There are many popular festivals in Nerja throughout the year, marking the changes of the seasons, religious dates and patron saints – in fact pretty much anything and everything is an excuse for a fiesta whatever the weather. One of the biggest festivals here in the small town of Nerja in Southern Spain on the Costa del Sol is San Isidro, celebrated every year on the 15th of May.

The festival is in honour of Isidro, a farm labourer from Madrid, who in legend received divine assistance to perform his work. As a result he has become the patron saint of farm workers and other labourers in many Spanish speaking countries. San Isidro was born in Madrid in 1082 and the city also holds a large festival on the 15th of May at the Pradera del Santo.

Here in Nerja the day starts with a service in the town’s main church El Salvador. This white washed church stands on the square in front of the main tourist attraction in the town – the Balcon de Europa, perched on the cliff tops with spectacular panoramic views out over the Mediterranean towards North Africa.

Once the church service is over, it is followed by a long procession made up of dozens of ox carts, carriages, horses and men, women and children on foot all dressed up in smart riding gear or traditional farmers outfits. For the women and girls its an excuse to wear their colourful flamenco dresses and everyone makes a huge effort for the day.

The vibrant procession winds through the narrow streets of the town, packed with tourists and locals alike, and ends up in the grounds of the Nerja Caves, a few kilometres outside of Nerja. Here the party starts in earnest, with singing, dancing, barbecues, picnics and drinking until late at night. Stalls are set up selling food and drink, but many people bring their own picnics and stocks of alcohol. The ox carts always carry food and drink as well as their human cargo, who return many hours later exhausted from the day long fiesta.

For visitors to Nerja, the best place to watch the procession is near to the start point at the Balcon de Europa, or you can follow the procession all the way to the Caves and join in the party, as everyone is welcome.

About Nerja

The pretty Andalucian town of Nerja, with its miles of sandy beaches, is located on the southernmost coast of Spain, less than an hours drive from Malaga airport. The narrow winding streets of the old town are home to many tapas bars, restaurants and small shops and lead down to the renowned Balcon de Europa with its panoramic coastal views towards Africa. Benefiting from one of the best climates in Europe, enjoying on average more than 300 days of sunshine a year and with mild winter temperatures, Nerja is truly a year round holiday destination.

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