Murcia is a festive and happy city. The good all year round climate and the extrovert Mediterranean character of the people make for the celebration of a wide range of fiestas around two particular months: April and September.
These popular celebrations are characterised by widespread participation with some of them having become famous outside of the region. The Murcians, who are great lovers of tradition, celebrate the fiestas with gusto and love to share them with visitors.
Christmas holidays in Murcia begin with the “Cuadrillas de Ánimas” and “Campanas de Auroros”, pious brotherhoods who walk the paths of the Huerta on Christmas Eve, under the protection of the Virgen del Rosario de la Aurora, asking the neighbours for the “aguinaldo” and announcing the birth of Jesus. On Twelfth Night we have the Mystery plays, ancient religious dramas represented ny the neighbours of some nearby towns, especially Churra and Patiño.
Christmas time also brings craftwork exhibitions and musical concerts. The squares and churches of Murcia fill up with Belenes, the traditional nativity scene in Murcia, which is internationally recognised. Markets are set up and the traditional Three Wise Men parade takes place, together with other Christmas activities, bringing festive jy to locals and visitors.
Easter in Murcia is an explosion of beauty, passion and Baroque. The processions express the Murcian character, their generosity, their love and their faith.
In the Murcian, processions the lights from the sky, candles and lanterns all mingle with the scent of orange blossom and incense, colour, music and art, offering a feats for the senses.
The variety of the processions turns the Murcian Easter into something unique and different from other, as it stands apart in the world and is one of our most characteristic features.
Any visitor will be captained by the works of art and artistic treasures which leave the museums to be paraded in the processions. The handing out of sweets, boiled eggs and buns, aan ancient custom and another example of Murcian generosity will also surprise them.
The Murcian Easter, full of tradition, is a mix of religious and festive sentiment where thousands of people flock to the streets to see the beautiful processions and sculptures, which are mainly transported, on the shoulders of the Nazarenes, dressed in a unique style and displaying impressive devotion.
In the afternoon on Holy Wednesday, the “coloraos”or reds, in reference to the colour of their tunics, parade the streets in the colour of blood. The “Archicofradia” of the “Preciosísima Sangre” is the oldest.
On Maundy Thursday night the city lights are turned off as the procession of silence passes by, surrounding the streets in an aura of breathtaking devotion only interrupted by the voices of the “Auroros” and the choirs singing to the “Cristo del Refugio”, who gives his name to the brotherhood and is the only Easter sculpture brought out in the procession.
On the morning of Good Friday is the procession of “Los Salzillos”. Its Nazarenes wear purple tunics and many go barefoot, carrying crosses on their shoulders for more than eight hours while they walk the streets of Murcia.
They begin on Easter Sunday and are lively celebrations in which Murcia makes merry to celebrate the arrival of spring and the end of Lent. Street musicians, street theatre, fireworks, the Youth orchestra Festival, The Festival of “Tunas”, The Murcian Spring Parade with floats decorated with flowers…
However, at this time, the most emblematic fiestas of National Tourist Interest, are the “Bando de la Huerta” and the “Entierro de la “Sardina”, where people give and receive with generosity and abundance.
Bando de la Huerta
It is the Murcian Fiesta par excellence. It is always celebrated on the first Tuesday alter Easter and it opens the Spring Fiestas.
In the most important squares and parks, during the days before the parade, the groups or “peñas” of huerfanos, or people from the Huerat, mount their famous “barracas” where you can find the traditional performances and see the old houses and customs of the Huerta, recreated by the “peñas”.
The day of the Bando is an explosion of colour and joy in which the whole of the city and the Huerta takes part, either in the parades or as a member of the public. No visitor can fail to be moved by the fun and merry making and feel happy to be taking part in such a great event.
Burning of the Sardine
This is a unique and original fiesta which takes place on the Saturday after Easter Sunday. Together with the Bando de la Huerta, it is the big Murcian fiesta.
Fireworks, music, brass bands, dancers, floats, toys, carnival groups, “hachoneros” (people who guard the floats), a concert of whistles… All of these come together in a night of madness and magic, when everybody without exception, flights for a toy.
King Alfonso X the Wise, and takes in a wide range of celebrations granted the fair, celebrated in the first fortnight of September. For example, the fun fair, the bullfighting fair, the castle fair, the Moors and Christian fiesta, the “Tunas” festival, the International Mediterranean Folklore Festival and the Great “Romería” (pilgrimage) to accompany the patron Virgin on her way to her mountain sanctuary. Romería: The “Romerías” to the Virgin of the Fuensanta deserve especial mention. Twice a year, in spring and September, the Virgin comes to the city from her mountain sanctuary and is accompanied on her journey back from the Cathedral.
The September “Romería” is extremely well attended, as well as historical. It commemorates the solemn coronation of the Virgin. The day the Virgin returns is always a local holiday in the city’s calendar, which, together with the great participation and rejoicing, turns it into one of the most important holidays in Murcia.