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 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 on the Balcon de Europa at 11am.

Once the church service is over there is singing and dancing outside the church 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.

Wednesday 15th Of May 2013

11am Mass in the El Salvador Church on the Balcon de Europa with the Peña Nerjeña Choir
12pm Midday “Homenage to the workers” Singing and dancing at the entrance to the church followed by the “Romería” where the ox-drawn carts make their way to the Nerja Caves, starting at Calle Diputación. The tractors and other vehicles depart from the corner of Castilla Pérez and El Barrio. All vehicles have to have advance permission from the local police to take part.
2.30pm Arrival at the caves.
3.00pm The “Verbena” starts in the official Caseta at the Caves.
5pm Prize giving ceremony.
5.30pm The Verbena and the party continue.
12am Midnight – End of the Verbena

If you don’t want to walk all the way from Nerja to the Caves and back, there is a special bus service that will run throughout the day.

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