Entrada Mora

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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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I imagine most people’s reactions to the title of this post will be “I wish!”  How many times have you had a wonderful holiday, used your credit card to its max, then returned home to the worry of paying your credit card bill?  Doesn’t it negate some of the positive effects of your holiday – so why not do things differently this year?

Lock up all your credit cards!

The first step is to plan your holiday well in advance, looking online for information about the area you will be visiting.  I can give you plenty of general tips for saving money in Spain - and most of those will apply to other countries - but even within Spain different regions have different traditions.  Some holiday-makers may return home from Spain raving about the free tapas they had with every drink, but others may say they had to pay for their tapas, albeit they were very cheap, so it helps to know in advance.

Before moving to Spain, we decided to use the train to travel there, partly because it is stress-free compared to flying, and partly because we didn’t have to worry about the weight of our cases!  On checking online we discovered that Renfe have a special discount card for over 60s (la tarjeta dorada), which gives discounts of between 25% and 40%.  At a cost of 5€ for the annual card, we were soon saving money! 

Don't try checking those in for your flight!

We also discovered that Renfe have occasional Estrella offers, so we were able to travel first-class for the same price as normal second-class fares.  Not only did we have more comfortable, spacious seats, but our lunch and drinks were included, so we were actually saving money.  Note however that, if you are a vegetarian or have special dietary needs, you will need to book your meal in advance. 

If you are staying in a hotel, check what is included in the price.  If a buffet breakfast is on offer it may be cost-effective, as a good breakfast will keep you going for hours.  However if breakfast is extra, and especially if it is a continental breakfast, it could be cheaper going to the nearest bar.  This is where prior research is useful: I have to thank fellow travellers who posted on tripadvisor for identifying local bars where we could buy a cheap breakfast and good budget restaurants close to our hotel.

Families may find it cheaper to stay in a self-catering apartment, however be aware that supermarkets on a resort may be surprisingly pricey, and what you don’t want to do is arrive just before it shuts and spend a small fortune trying to stock up for your holiday!  If you have done your advance research, you will know where the nearest large supermarkets are and, more importantly, what is the local market day.  All you need when you arrive are a few basics until you can go shopping in the morning.   Fruit and vegetables will be a lot tastier if you buy them in the local market, as well as cheaper, and you may find good cheeses, cold meats and other local delicacies on offer there.

Explore the local markets

A good option on a hot day is to visit a couple of air-conditioned museums!  Be aware that in Spain many museums are closed on Monday, however if you have checked in advance you will already know that.  You will also know whether museums are free on certain days (in Madrid, for example, many museums are either free or cheaper on Sunday mornings) and whether discounts are given for EU residents and/or pensioners (have your passport with you!) 

If you are going out for the day, budget for a cheap menú del día (in Spain) or look out for le menu or la formule (in France) or similar offers.  If you decide to have just a snack for lunch and eat later on, you will probably end up spending a lot more money, particularly if you become very hungry!  I know – that happened to us in Paris!  

Beware of optional day trips, which may sound tempting but often end up costing you a lot of money.  When we were staying at an apartment-hotel in Marbella, we were told about a day-trip to Gibraltar.  We thought it was a bit expensive for what was basically a coach-trip with nothing extra included, so investigated the alternatives.  We found out that the local bus to La Linea was a lot cheaper, so we took that to save money.  We discovered that it saved time too, as lots of coaches and cars were lined up waiting to cross the border, while we strolled across in seconds!

Don’t stop for food or drinks in the main plazas or squares in any tourist area, or you will be charged tourist prices.  John and I saw a reasonably priced menú in the window of a restaurant on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, and were impressed by the cost in what we expected to be a pricey area.  We then noticed that it didn’t mention any drinks, even though a menú del día usually includes one, so we went inside to check.  The waiter was keen to take us to a table (it was obvious that we were tourists!), however before sitting down we asked whether drinks were included.  They were not.  We then asked to look at the wine list, before beating a hasty retreat!  The food might have been reasonably priced, but the drinks were definitely over-priced. 

We turned down a side street and soon discovered a good neighbourhood restaurant, which seemed to be full of locals rather than other tourists, and where the final bill came to less than the food alone in the first restaurant.  Lesson learnt!

Join in the local fiestas for a great and cheap night out.  Many resorts offer free entertainment, but some acts are not much better than a karaoke evening, and most bars will charge you a lot for a couple of drinks – remember the worse the act, the more you are likely to drink!  I hasten to add that we have enjoyed watching some very talented performers while on holiday, but these have been the exception rather than the rule.

Wander into the town centre where the local fiesta is taking place, and you will soon be enjoying a real party atmosphere.  The entertainment will be free, any food and drinks will be either free or far more reasonably priced than back at your hotel or resort, and the whole experience will be one to remember.  No doubt we are prejudiced, but we can highly recommend a visit to Jumilla in August.  As well as the renowned Fiesta de la Vendimia, you can enjoy the National Folklore Festival and the spectacular Moors and Christians parades.

Entrance of the Moros

I suspect that you won’t be brave enough to leave your credit card at home when going on holiday, but I am hoping that with a bit of advanced planning, and by using your common sense while away, you may be able to leave it in the safe until you return home.

If you have any of your own budget holiday tips to share, please send them to me via the comments box below, and maybe we can have an “International Budget Holiday Tips” feature next time!

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