Entrada Cristiana

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If you’ve got children or grandchildren Monday 12 August is the day to take them to Jumilla, as there is a 2 x 1 offer on fairground rides (it saves you some money too!)  Not only that, but the Cabalgata Infantil del Vino will have lots of entertaining floats for them to watch, starting at 20.30.  As it’s holiday time, you might let them stay to watch the drama between the Moors and Christians being re-enacted on the Paseo at 22.45.  Don’t let them get too close to the sword-play though as they use real swords (we’ve seen the sparks flying!)

If you enjoy witnessing Spanish traditions then Tuesday will be a good day to visit, as there is a procession of all the peñas (local associations) dressed in their traditional costumes and carrying baskets of grapes. They will start parading around town at 20.00, leaving from the Paseo and finishing in the Patio of I.E.S. Arzobispo Lozano. At 21.00 they will offer their grapes to the Niño de las Uvas followed by the grape treading ceremony.

If you are only able to visit Jumilla on one day, and if you enjoy drinking wine, Wednesday 14 August is one of the best days to visit. At 20.30 the Cabalgata Tradicional del Vino will leave the Plaza de Rollo and the colourful floats will slowly wend their way through the streets. I say slowly, because the participants are busy handing out sangria, wine and snacks to all the people eagerly lining the streets.

Thursday is the saint’s day for Jumilla’s patron, Nuestra Señora La Virgen de la Asunción. There will be a special mass for Our Lady at 12.00 in the parish church of Santiago, with the local choir Coral Canticorum, plus a solemn procession in her honour leaving the north door of the church at 20.00.

If like me you enjoy watching horses and carriages, don’t miss the procession at 20.00 on Friday. This will be followed by a free fiesta flamenca on the Paseo at 22.30.

Saturday is the day for the young and young at heart (particularly those with a lot of stamina!). The infamous Gran Cabalgata del Vino attracts thousands of visitors to Jumilla, all aiming to get soaked in red wine. Many people wear white – all the better to show off the wine stains – and they revel in dancing through the streets while wine is poured over them.  Personally I prefer to drink my red wine, but no doubt that is showing my age!

Sunday 18 August will be the last day of this year’s Feria. Mass will be held in Santiago church at 20.00 after which the statue of Our Lady will be carried to the Ermita de San Agustín. This year’s festivities will be finished off in style with a firework display over Jumilla Castle at 24.00. I suspect that after several late nights I will be watching it from our bedroom window!

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Official launch of La Fiesta de la Vendimia, with the Niño de las Uvas

 August is an exhausting month for those of us who live in Jumilla, even if we are only spectating.  We met a couple of people last week who live near Pinoso, who said they were “all fiesta-ed out” after their own fiestas, and we knew exactly what they meant.

The programme for the Feria y Fiestas de Agosto shows 10 days of celebrations: at the time of starting this post we were only into day 7 and I was already flagging a bit and seriously considering having a siesta, which may have been the only sane way to survive all the partying.

Although there are activities throughout the day, most of the main events are held at an hour when many of our compatriots would be considering retiring for the night. Not only that, but you usually have to add at least thirty minutes to the official start time.  The Noche de las Antorchas was held in the castle, and with such an atmospheric setting we weren’t worried about the lateness of the hour.

The night of the torches in Jumilla castle

 We were fortunate to get tickets for the Gran Fiesta de la Exaltacíón del Vino held in the gardens of Salones Pio XII, which kicked off the proceedings for the 40th Fiesta de la Vendimia.  Our first year in Jumilla we had joined the queue outside the Ayuntamiento to buy tickets, but they had sold out before we reached the head of the queue.  The following year we queued outside the Roque Baños centre for several hours and this time we succeeded in getting tickets, presumably because they had limited everyone to a maximum of two tickets.  This year we used our contacts and reserved our two tickets in advance: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know……!!

Apparently there were over 1,000 people at the Gran Exultación, and we soon realised that it was the place to go to and to be seen at.  In our slightly biased view it wasn’t as enjoyable an evening as La Gran Cata, however with all our favourite bodegas being present, allowing us to wander around with wine glass in hand and ask for a taste of their best wines, plus plates of food constantly appearing, it was still a pretty damned good night out.  Being a child at heart, I absolutely loved the firework display at the end!

Entrance of the Christians

The first procession of the August Feria was the Entrada Cristiana on Saturday night, where we saw the first Christians approaching us at about 20.45.  As they were due to start at 20.00, we calculated that they probably left the Plaza del Rollo at 20.30, with the customary half hour delay.  Not that we worried as we were sitting with friends at a table outside Bar California, which was a prime viewing spot, enjoying some Jumilla wine. 

I have to say that I was impressed by the Gran Entrada Mora (the Moors) on Sunday night.  We went to watch the start at a spot conveniently close to Nuestro Bar, where we saw a group of splendidly dressed Moros enjoying tapas and drinks outside, while two of the bands had congregated inside the bar, with only ten minutes to go before the scheduled start time.  We decided to have some of the aptly named delicias de bacalao and a cold drink, as it didn’t looks as if the participants were about to go anywhere soon.  Much to our amazement, the Gran Entrada Mora set off barely ten minutes late. 

Although there are separate processions for the Moors and Christians, it’s all very civilised (apart from the fighting, that is) so lots of Moros appeared in the Cristianos procession and vice versa.  I do think that it is a bit unfair that the Moors have the most sumptous costumes, though the Christians looked impressive too.

Entrance of the Moors

If one fiesta wasn’t enough, we also enjoyed the National Folklore Festival last weekend.  The inaugural event was on Saturday night after the Entrada Cristiana, starting at 22.00.  The Jardín de la Glorieta was packed as we witnessed Los Armaos marching onto the stage for the traditional “el Caracol” before we watched several folk groups playing music, singing and dancing.

Impressive though it was, I think we preferred the more intimate atmosphere on Monday in the barrio of San Antón.  After performing several lively dances, the Grupo de Folklore Caramancho de Badajoz responded to the cries of “Otras” by persuading several onlookers to join in.  Luckily John and I were hiding in the shadows!

The neighbours joined in the dancing

If we had had the stamina there were dozens of events that we could have enjoyed, however we decided to limit ourselves as we were due to go away the following weekend – and we needed to conserve our energy for that.  We still managed to enjoy several folk dancing events, the Artisans´Market, the Solemn Procession in honour of la Patrona, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the Children’s Cabalgata and the finale of the Moros y Cristianos Fiesta.  The dramatic re-enactment of the Ambassadors and Parliament took place on the Paseo.  This event involved lots of fighting and bodies falling to the ground, the clashing of heavy swords with sparks flying and a large horse charging towards the Moros.  Spendid stuff!

Waiting to charge at the Moors

Of course most people associate August in Jumilla with the Fiesta de la Vendimia, and so we had two groups of British visitors on Thursday who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  We showed them around Jumilla in the morning, stopping only to enjoy the Feria de Día (a glass of wine and special tapa for 2€) in a couple of good bars.  We had also booked a visit to Bodegas Silvano Garcia to keep them occupied in the afternoon. 

 The visitors had opted for the Cabalgata Tradicional (the one that doesn’t involve getting drenched in red wine) so we all met up again at 20.30, having booked a couple of tables across the road from Nuestro Bar.  Everybody ordered drinks and tapas, though once the procession reached us we were being handed tiny plastic glasses of wine and sangria, plus tastings of food, so we weren’t in any danger of becoming thirsty or hungry.

Cabalgata Tradicional - wine anyone?

I nearly forgot to mention the Miniferia del Vino that took place on the first Saturday of the fiestas.  3€ for a wine glass that you can take home, then a stroll through the gardens, where we tasted wine at the many stands representing some of Jumilla’s best bodegas and snacked on cheese, ham, nuts etc.  Not surprisingly we were there – as we have been for the last three years – tasting our favourite wines. 

An honourable mention too for the Ofrenda de Uvas to the Niño de las Uvas, which is one of the most popular processions.  We sat outside the ice-cream parlour enjoying home-made ice-cream (as you do) while watching men, women and children dressed in traditional costumes carrying their baskets of grapes into the Jardín.

Offering of the grapes and first must

 An amazing ten days of celebrations in Jumilla – now we have to catch up the many hours of sleep that we missed!

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Grupo de Coros y Danzas Nazarín

So much has happened since my previous post that I would need to write another book just to relate all the stories!  These are the edited highlights:

Thursday 12th August: Gran de Exultación del Vino.  What a great party that was, as described in my previous post.

Saturday 14 August: National Folklore Festival, with performances in the streets and plazas at 13.00.  Well I was there at 13.00, as were many friends from La Asociación de Amigos de Jumilla who were the hosts, plus two officers from the local police – but where were the performers from the Grupo de Coros y Danzas Nazarín?  They eventually strolled up at quarter past one and by half past the performance had started.  The only problem was the local police had become bored and wandered off, so the Presidente of the Asociación had to direct the traffic!

What I loved about the different groups taking part in the Folklore Festival was the way they all obviously enjoyed performing for us.

At the end of the performance, guess who turned up?  Yes, the local police returned with barriers to stop the traffic coming through.  Sorry, guys, you are a bit too late: we’re all off now for wine and nibbles at the Asociacón’s meeting place!

Except that I didn’t go this year, even though I had an invitation, as John wasn’t feeling well so I had to hurry back home now that I had taken my photos.  I say “hurry”, however I had a slight detour to make.

Saturday 14 August: Miniferia del Vino  We know so many of the local bodegas that it would have been very rude to have ignored this event, wouldn’t it?  Yes, that’s what I thought.  I paid 3€ for a glass and was then able to go round the 13 stands set up by local bodegas in the Jardín del Rey Don Pedro for free tastings.  Not that I had 13 glasses of wine (of course not!) and anyway you don’t get a whole glassful, but I had to say “Hola” to Fina, Fernando, Silvano and many other friends, didn’t I?  And I couldn’t insult them by refusing to try their wine, especially when Silvano was offering his award-winning Monastrell Dulce. “Un poco, gracias!”

Gracias, Silvano!

Saturday 14 August: Entrada Cristiana  Luckily John had recovered by the evening, as we had arranged to meet friends at Bar California so that we could watch the Entrance of the Christians.  This procession has everything: fantastic costumes, music, dancing, drama and a wonderful atmosphere.  At regular points they have a jousting display, however I had to run up the street with my camera to take photos as it didn’t happen opposite our table.

Entrada Cristiana

My photos were a bit dark, which I suspected would be the case, after all the procession was due to start at 10 in the evening.  I say “due to start”, however we weren’t surprised when it started later than that, which is why we had grabbed a table and ordered tapas and a bottle of wine so that we could wait in comfort.

Entrada Cristiana on YouTube

Sunday 15 August: National Folklore Festival with more performances in the street.  We decided to watch the performance in Calle Calvario, as it was a group from Tarragona and we hoped that they would form a casteller or human castle.  We were not disappointed, although they didn’t have much space so it had to be a small castle compared to the nine storeys they usually form in the region of Tarragona.

Building the human castle

On our way back we bumped into Carmelita, who told us to go to a bar up the road where there would be a “comida” at 2pm.  We hadn’t made any plans so the four of us followed her instructions, only to discover that the bar was in a garage! The Asociación de Vecinos de San Antón were providing lunch, sangria and wine for the folk group from Asturias , however we were immediately welcomed, told that we were “Jumillanos” as well as being  “Ingleses”, and asked whether we wanted sangria or vino.  You cannot beat Spanish hospitality!

They can't stop dancing!

After the meal, a couple of the musicians started playing and the dancers soon joined in.  Over two hours later we continued our journey home.

Monday 16 August: Entrada Mora  Another 10pm start, more or less.  Our previous strategy of getting there early and grabbing a table had proved successful, so this time we headed to Bar Canovas.  A table outside? Tick.  Bottle of wine and tapas? Tick. Camera ready? Tick. Procession starting on time? No way! Not that we minded waiting: sitting outside the bar on a lovely August evening wasn’t exactly a hardship.  We all agreed that, brilliant though the Entrada Cristiana on Saturday night had been, the Entrada Mora was even more exciting.

Entrada Mora

We enjoyed watching a dramatic re-enactment of a damsel in distress being rescued from the dark forces by our hero, although we weren’t really sure what it was all about!  Watch the video below, then if you know more than we do, please leave a comment explaining its significance!

Entrada Mora

Tuesday 17 August: Representación de las Embajadas y Parlamento de Moros Y Cristianos  John and I had stumbled across this last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we persuaded four other Brits to join us on the Paseo Poeta Lorenzo Guardiola.  The performance was a brief history of the Castillo de Jumilla, which was originally held by the Moors until the Christians captured the castle.  Lots of drama and clashing of swords, which incidentally weren’t plastic imitations judging by the sound of metal against metal, with a few sparks flying! 


Thursday 19 August: Cabalgata Tradicional  This is the highlight of the Fiesta de la Vendimia so far as John and I are concerned.  We had persuaded several friends to come along and watch this procession, so we decided to book a couple of tables at Bar California.  Being optimistic we arrived at 8pm, although the procession wasn’t due to leave until 8.30.  Our major mistake was ordering a second bottle of wine, just before the procession reached us!  We knew many of the participants, who handed us plastic glasses of wine and sangria, and even small bottles of wine!  The floats were brilliant, the atmosphere was amazing, with lots of music and dancing, and it was lovely to recognise and be recognised by so many of the people taking part.

Cabalgata tradicional

Friday 20 August: Desfile de Carruajes y Caballos  I was due to fly to London on Friday to help my daughter Vicky celebrate her 40th birthday, however I had already packed and I didn’t want to miss the horses and carriages on Friday morning.  I was hoping that for once the event would start on time, however it wasn’t to be.  Still, it was worth the wait to watch the beautiful horses parading past us.


Saturday 21 August: Gran Cabalgata del Vino  This is the famous (or should that be infamous?) procession on the final Saturday of the Fiesta de la Vendimia.  To be quite honest, although it’s good to watch (mainly young) people enjoying themselves as they get drenched with red wine, once you have seen it you don’t really need to see it again.  Plus I had an important date in London!  John went though with a couple of friends, so this is his photo.

Apparently 80,000 litres of wine and sangria were sprayed over the 75,000 participants who came from Alicante, Albacete, Valencia and Murcia provinces and even the Canary Islands.  John saw several busloads of people arriving, however in spite of all the strangers in town there were no serious incidents.  I suspect that there were a few sore heads the following day though!

So the Fiesta is over for another year, and life will return to normal – except that we had a message from our friend Toñi, telling us that there is a Fiesta in Torre del Rico and would we like to go there?

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