It goes without saying that the fiesta is the quintessential element of Spanish culture and the Spanish people simply wouldn’t be who they are without it. The concept may seem quite alien to the British, whose experiences may well have been limited to a rain-soaked summer carnival and a travelling fairground in a muddy local park every summer. However there are over 15,000 fiestas every year throughout Spain and it is said that even if you attempted to attend more than one a day, you wouldn’t be able to see them all in a single lifetime. And Jávea is no exception when it comes to the enthusiasm to party and there are celebrations of all shapes and sizes throughout the year.
Fiesta Programme 2023
This programme is subject to change and will be continuously updated throughout the year
Thursday 5th January 2023
The arrival of the Los Reyes Magos – the Three Kings – by fishing boat in the port of Xàbia, followed by a procession through the streets of the port and up to the historic centre. On this night, the children will be expecting a visit from their majesties at their homes, laden with presents, and they will be polishing their shoes to leave outside their doors.
More Details: Fiesta LOS REYES MAGOS
Friday 6th January 2023 – LA EPIFANÍA · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
La Epifanía del Señor – the Epiphany – brings the Christmas season to a close. It is the day that Christians celebrated the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ and commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men or Three Kings to visit the baby Jesus after following an angel to Bethlehem.
Tuesday 17th January 2023 – SAN ANTONIO ABAD
Xàbia celebrates the feast day of San Antonio Abad, the patron saint of animals, in many ways. On this day, there is a mass in the church of Mare de Deu de Loreto in the port, followed by the blessing of the animals on the port promenade with the headland of San Antonio in the background. Normally, on the weekend before, a special event will take place in the historic event, known as the ‘Burning of the Pine’, an ancient tradition honouring the saint and giving light to the world as it moves slowly away from the darkness of winter. In the Plaza de la Constitución there is another animal blessing ceremony.
More Details: Fiesta SAN ANTONIO ABAD
Friday 20th January 2023 – SAN SEBASTIAN · Patron Saint of Xàbia
This day is the feast day honouring San Sebastian, the patron saint of Xàbia who – it is said – saved the village from the horrors of ‘Black Death’ in medieval times and has forever been honoured as the saviour of its people. Celebrations have recently been revived with bull-running around the church square over the weekend nearest to the feast day.
More Details: Fiesta SAN SEBASTIÁN
Saturday 18th February 2023 – CARNESTOLTES (Carnaval)
This is an annual event that marks the onset of Lent, a solemn religious observance that commemorates the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert and enduring the temptation of the Devil. Therefore it’s an evening of great indulgence, dressing up and general merriment. Although Xàbia’s celebrations don’t quite meet the great standards set by Cadíz, Santa Cruz de Tenerife or Rio de Janeiro, there are normally two parades – one for children and families and one for adults – before dancing to music late into the night.
More Details: CARNAVAL – Party Extraordinaire
Sunday 11th March 2023 – LA BAIXADA
On the Third Sunday of Lent, the people of Xàbia dress in their finest and walk up to the blue-domed church of Calvario to accompany the treasured image of Jesús Nazareno and the Virgen Maria in its journey down to the village. They will carry long candles to light the way down the Vía Crucis and through the great tosca gateway to the heart of the historic centre where the image will sit inside the fortress-church of San Bartolomé over Easter and throughout the festivities honouring it at the end of April and beginning of May. On Wednesday 3rd May, it will be carried back up the chapel in great celebration (see below).
More Details: Fiesta JESÚS NAZARENO
Sunday 19th March 2023 – SAN JOSÉ · REGIONAL HOLIDAY
March 19th honours San José, the husband of Maria, the mother of Jesús Christ, and consequently it is known as ‘Día de Padre’ – Father’s Day – across many parts of Spain, including the Comunidad Valenciana. In the city of Valencia and across many towns of the Valencian region (although not in Xàbia), it is the final day of the great festival of Las Fallas.
More Details: MARCH 19 – Día de San José
FESTIVAL ARENAL BLUES
A celebration of blues and the first music festival to grace the promenade of the Arenal beach.
Friday 7th April 2023 – VIERNES SANTO (Good Friday) · REGIONAL HOLIDAY
Although there is the Easter Market in full swing, the oldest of its kind in the Comunidad Valenciana which fills the streets with great colour and fantastic aromas, this day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on the hill at Calvary and, as the sun dips behind the buildings of the historic centre, the people dress in their finest and, carrying long candles to light the way, make a short and very solemn procession through the narrow streets accompanied by slow music from the town’s band and emotional singing by an all-male choir.
More Details: EASTER IN XÀBIA
Sunday 9th April 2023 – DOMINGO DE RESURRECIÓN (Easter Sunday)
One of the popular acts of the day is the traditional gathering of the penyas and associations in the square around the church in the heart of the historic centre, a noisy and sometimes boisterous couple of hours in the early afternoon during which a number of temporary bars offer food and drink whilst hats, cakes and other home-made items can be bought at several stalls.
More Details: EASTER IN XÀBIA
Monday 10th April 2023 – LUNES DE PASCUA (Easter Monday) · REGIONAL HOLIDAY
Most shops and business will be closed or open for the morning only. It will also be the final day of the Easter Market in the historic centre.
More Details: EASTER IN XÀBIA
FESTES EN HONOR A JESÙS NAZARENO
At the end of the month, the village will start preparing for the biggest religious celebrations of the year, those which honour the treasured image of Jesús Nazareno. There will be bull-running in the Placeta del Convent, discos and live music, flower offerings, the famous flower crosses placed around the historic centre, and the return of the image to the blue-domed chapel on Wednesday 3rd May, with the festivities brought to a close with a stunning firework display.
More Details: Fiesta JESÚS NAZARENO
Monday 1st May 2023 – DIA DEL TRABAJADOR · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
Most shops and businesses will be closed. In Xàbia, May 1st marks the day when the famous flower crosses are installed around the historic centre and, armed with special maps showing their locations, the people wander through the streets to marvel at these intricate creations. In the evening, there is a special procession to visit many of them with musicians serenading their creators.
Tuesday 2nd May 2023 – PUENTE
Wednesday 3rd May 2023 – LA SUBIDA · LOCAL HOLIDAY
Most shops and businesses will be closed. In Xàbia, this is the final day of the celebrations honouring the treasured image of Jesus Nazareno and there will be a special mass in the fortress-church of San Bartolomé, followed by a deafening ‘mascletà’ in the Plaza de la Constitución, a true Valencian celebration of noise. In the evening, the people of the village will dress in their finest and, carrying long candles, they will accompany the image back to the blue-domed chapel of Calvario. Afterwards, there will be a firework display in the Plaza de la Constitución.
More Details: Fiesta JESÚS NAZARENO
XÀBIA FOLK 2023
One of the most popular music festivals is Xàbia Folk. Over one weekend, there will be a series of concerts featuring traditional music from across Spain and Europe, sometimes from further afield to the Middle East and Africa. The concerts take place in the Plaza de la Constitución, except the final Sunday lunchtime concert which usually takes place inside the small chapel of Santa Llúcia on the hill overlooking the village.
May and June are traditionally the months for children to take their ‘Primera Comunión’ in Spain. The First Communion is a ceremony which is very common in the Catholic Church during which a young person, typically aged between seven and thirteen, first receives the Eucharist, given the sacred wafer and wine for the first time.
More Details: FIRST COMMUNION
SAN FRANCISCO DE PAULA
The oldest fiesta in Xàbia, the details are to be confirmed.
FOGUERES DE SANT JOAN DE XÀBIA
The month of June is dominated by the biggest party of the year in Xàbia – the Fogueres de Sant Joan – in which the whole village comes out to celebrate midsummer. The festivities usually begin on the first weekend in the month with the emotional coronation of the Fogueres Queen and the presentation of the Quintà, the young people coming of age during the year who will be the main protagonists of the fiesta.
The party proper normally kicks off on June 13th with the official pregón and from then on, it’s a packed programme of bull-running, live music, discos, shows, parades, flower offerings, sports, competition before the famous ‘Nit dels Focs’ – the ‘Night of Fires’ – on June 23rd and the final emotional day on June 24th, the feast day of San Juan/Sant Joan and a LOCAL HOLIDAY in Xàbia, when there will be a special mass, a deafening ‘mascletà’, a float parade, the legendary firework display set to music, all culminating in the tear-jerking burning of the statues.
More Details: Fiesta FOGUERES DE SANT JOAN
Saturday 24th June 2023 – DÍA DE SANT JOAN · LOCAL HOLIDAY
Some shops and business will be closed.
FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE XÀBIA
Details to be confirmed.
The International Festival – often dubbed the ‘food festival’ – features a number of stands from many of the nationalities that make up the population of Xàbia in which they showcase not only their heritage and customs but also offer typical food and drinks. There is also live music and entertainment.
MOROS I CRISTIANS DE XÀBIA (14-22 July 2023)
In July, the fiesta action moves down to the coast with the spectacular festivities of the Moors and Christians. For a week, the streets of the port will be filled with colourful costumes and deafening gunfire as the festeros remind us not only of the re-conquest of Spain from Muslim rule but also the daily struggle against pirates from North Africa which plagued this part of the Spanish coast right up until the 18th century.
More Details: Fiesta MOROS I CRISTIANS DE XÀBIA
Sunday 16th July – VIRGÉN DEL CARMEN
The Virgen del Carmen, another invocation of the Virgin Mary, is the patron saint of the sea, and particular of the Spanish Navy and her feast day is celebrated on July 16th which a modest celebration in the port zone of Xàbia.
More Details: JULY 16 – Virgen del Carmen
Wednesday 2nd August 2023 – VIRGÉN DE LOS ÁNGELES (La Plana)
The fiestas in honour of the Virgen de los Ángeles are modest celebrations that are also known as the ‘fiestas of La Plana’ since they are centred around the sanctuary of Mare de Déu dels Àngels on La Plana. The fiestas include traditional music and dancing, community dinners and dancing to a band or disco until the early hours.
More Details: Festividad de la VIRGEN DE LOS ÁNGELES
Tuesday 15th August 2023 – LA ASUNCIÓN · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
August 15 is a national holiday in Spain marking ‘La Asunción’ and is one of the Catholic Church’s ‘holy days of obligation’ when the faithful are expected to attend mass. However, over the years, the religious character of ‘15 de agosto’ has been lost and to many Spaniards it marks the start of their holidays.
More Details: AUGUST 15 – Asunción de la Virgen María
FESTES EN HONOR A LA VIRGEN DEL LORETO · The Port Fiesta
Although the festivities start at the tail end of August, the main celebrations claim the first week of September with the feast day of the patron saint falling on September 8th when there is the great aquatic firework display. If the Fogueres de Sant Joan in June kicks off the summer season then these celebrations brings it to a close. The children return to school and the beaches become noticeably less crowded. During this special fiesta, there is the bull-running on the very edge of the harbour, parades, live music, discos, solemn parades and, of course, the grand firework display.
More Details: Fiesta MARE DE DÉU DE LORETO
Friday 8th September 2023 – DÍA DE LA MARE DÉU DE LORETO · LOCAL HOLIDAY
Most shops and businesses will be closed.
Tuesday 12th September 2023 – VIRGEN DEL POPÚL
There is normally a modest pilgrimage and mass at the small chapel of Popúl on the road to Jesús Pobre, although on occasion the act can be moved to the closest Sunday and often forms part of the Loreto festivities.
Monday 9th October 2023 – DÍA DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA · REGIONAL HOLIDAY
October 9th is the ‘Día de la Comunidad Valenciana’ and the date commemorates the entrance into the city of Valencia by Jaime I in 1238. In Xàbia the day is marked by the traditional prize-giving by the Ayuntamiento de Xàbia, the Premis 9 d’Octubre Vila de Xàbia awarded for solidarity and civic values in a very formal ceremony inside the council chambers.
More Details: OCTOBER 9 – Día de la Comunitat Valenciana
Thursday 12th October 2023 – FIESTA NACIONAL DE ESPAÑA · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
Most shops and businesses will be closed. There’s plenty of excitement in the capital Madrid though where Spain’s military might parades through the streets (it’s broadcast live on national TV) and in Zaragoza where ‘Las Fiestas del Pilar’ are celebrated with a ten-day festival. In Xàbia, however, the day passes as just another day off.
More Details: OCTOBER 12 – Fiesta Nacional de España
Tuesday 31st October 2023 – HALLOWEEN
In Xàbia, there is normally a early evening party for all the family on the Plaza de la Constitución with a DJ and party games. Everyone dresses up and it’s a fun evening, especially when the parties really start warming up later in the night for it is a national holiday tomorrow!
More Details: Halloween
Wednesday 1st November 2023 – TODOS LOS SANTOS · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
November 1st – All Saint’s Day – is a very important national holiday in Spain as it is a commemoration of the dead when Spanish families head to the cemeteries to clean and place flowers on tombs of deceased relatives as a reminder that they may have passed but they have not been forgotten.
More Details: NOVEMBER 1 – Todos Los Santos
Wednesday 6th December 2023 – DÍA DE LA CONSTITUCIÓN · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
December 6 is a national public holiday in Spain which commemorates the anniversary of a referendum held across the country on December 6th 1978 in which 91.8% of voting Spaniards ratified a new Spanish constitution drawn up after the death of the dictator Franco three years earlier as the country made its transition to democracy. In Xàbia, it’s just another day off and most shops and businesses will be closed.
More Details: DECEMBER 6 – Día de la Constitución
Friday 8th December 2023 – INMACULADA CONCEPCIÓN · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
December 8 is a national public holiday in Spain which marks the Catholic doctrine of the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother Saint Anne. It’s often confused with the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. For most people, it’s just another day off and most shops and businesses will be closed.
More Details: DECEMBER 8 – Inmaculada Concepción
Wednesday 13th December 2023 – SANTA LLÚCIA
Twelve days before Christmas Day, the first real sign of the onset of the festive season in Jávea is the fiesta of Santa Llúcia on December 13th. It is a modest celebration, barely noticed by many who live in the town, especially if it’s a working day when shops and businesses are still open and students still go to school.
More Details: Fiesta SANTA LLÚCIA
Monday 25th December 2023 – DÍA DE NAVIDAD · NATIONAL HOLIDAY
A day for families to come together and have lunch so most bars and restaurants – those who decide to open – may well be fully booked. Present giving is not as common as other countries but the commercialization of Christmas is ever creeping into Spanish society so the exchange of gifts – which would normally take place when the Three Kings arrive – is possible.
More Details: CHRISTMAS IN XÀBIA
FIESTAS – THE PERFECT WAY TO INTEGRATE
Becoming a Moor
The huge bass drum pulsates through my body as we move forward slowly along the road, a cymbal crashing violently on every step. Either side of us the street is lined with people, some cheering, some applauding, some even bemused by it all. But everyone is smiling. I pick out familiar faces in the crowd. Their curious expressions turn into sudden realisation as they recognise me. They wave, they call out, there’s the occasional choice word. But all I can do is smile and give them a wink in return.
Ten Years A Prawn
We came to Xàbia keen to discover as much as possible about the town that would become our new home. And we were eager to delve into the world of the ubiquitous Spanish fiesta, something so alien to us but so essential to the identity of a nation which simply wouldn’t be what it is without it. There are over 15,000 fiestas throughout Spain and it is said that even if you attempted to experience one a day, you’d be hard pressed to see them all in your lifetime. However it would be nice to give it a try.
“And it is significant that a country as sorrowful as ours should have so many and such joyous fiestas. Their frequency, their brilliance and excitement, the enthusiasm with which we take part, all suggest that without them we would explode.”
OCTAVIO PAZ (1914-1998)