The highs and lows of Málaga's Feria

From the 14th to the 22nd August Málaga's feria, a week of singing, dancing and horsemanship amongst other things, is non-stop However, not all the fun is considered by everyone to be 'good fun'.

I love Málaga, its architecture, its food, its history, its climate and the wholehearted way that the people throw themselves into making each and every feria and fiesta - religious or otherwise - a spectacle. . 

Singing their way up Calle Larios

Plaza de la Constitucion

This feria week is no exception. There were people of all ages and persuasions singing and dancing in and around Calle Larios on Saturday afternoon. The Plaza de la Constitucíon was packed with people at the San Miguel and Cartojal bars - both local beverages - and in the cafes and bars surrounding the plaza.

After the procession

Saturday had started with the procession of the horses (which I missed due to a huge queue at the Alsa ticket office, but that's for another time). Men and women dressed in their traditional costumes sat astride their mounts, or in traps; the horses were immaculately groomed. (This I know from the few traps that remained in the centre after the procession, from seeing them from the bus and from last year's experience.)

The rest of the day is processions, music and dance and a lot of that takes place outside of the old city at the freia ground. However, in the city, in the Plaza del Toros there takes place what I consider to be the fly in the ointment as far as the feria is concerned - the corridas, or bullfights.

One Spanish animal rights activist, who was filming a corrida in Málaga on 13th August, walked into the ring to comfort a dying bull before she was hauled out of the ring. As reported in The Dodo, 
"I could hear him crying in pain and I jumped down, walked across the ring to where he lay dying," Ms. Ruiz explained to me via Skype this morning. "He looked at me and I believe he felt my energy. I wanted to give him love before he left this earth," she said.
As she was pulled off the bull, the crowd of bullfighting fans jeered, yelling "fuera!" (get out) in unison. "They called me names," said Ruiz, "they kicked me, they spit on me, they told me to go back to the kitchen and they called me a whore."
The bull was stabbed to death.
 We mustn't forget that it isn't just Málaga that holds these fights, and that this is something that needs to be addressed by the country as a whole (and quite frankly the arguments of the bullfighting fraternity to keep it going are nothing short of pathetic). The politicians need to stop being scared of "losing the votes of the 'traditionalists' ", as a student of mine told me, and stop this barbaric act. If Spain as whole followed the lead of Portugal by not killing the bull, we'd be taking a step in the right direction and that in turn may lead to decent laws protecting the rights of all animals. However, when the former King Juan Carlos, (I used to like him, not anymore since his hunting exploits have come into full light) cheers the return of corridas in San Sebastian, I fear we could be fighting a losing battle, unless we can make the voices of people like Ms. Ruiz louder than his and other supporters of this cruelty.

The bull-fights are just one part of the feria, and not as popular as many would have you believe. The rest of the feria is fun-loving and the Malaguenans are there to celebrate their town, their culture and above all to have fun. Dress up as a barrel of Cartojal and dance through the streets of Málaga with friends, as one gentleman did, or simply walk the streets and the feria ground drinking in the atmosphere, and perhaps a little of that sweet white wine.

On the way to the feria

Calle Larios

Local sweet wine, very popular at feria time.


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