One of the biggest events in Malaga takes place in August and for many locals and holidaymakers, August means feria time. For just over a week, Malaga fair welcomes thousands and parties from dawn till dawn.
Billed as southern Europe’s biggest summer party, Malaga fair provides eight full days of music, dancing and fun. It’s a huge event that takes place over 2 venues where you can see free concerts, dancing, fireworks and ride the rides. Read our guide to everything you need to know to enjoy (and survive) Malaga fair.
Why does Malaga Fair take place?
Malaga fair commemorates the city becoming part of Castille when the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella conquered Malaga from the Moors on 19 August in 1487. The fair has been celebrated in some form or other since 1491. Nowadays, it’s one of the largest held in Spain during the summer and visited by thousands.
When is Malaga fair?
The dates for 2019 are Thursday 15 to Saturday 24 August. Celebrations start with a massive firework display near the port at midnight on Wednesday 14 August. Then festivities continue on La Malagueta beach with a concert, usually featuring one of Spain’s best-known groups.
Where does Malaga fair take place?
Malaga fair has two main centres:
Old quarter – the area around Calle Larios becomes the party centre during the day (from midday to 6pm). The streets are packed with revellers, many dressed in traditional Andalusian costume – look for the latest fashions in flamenco dresses – and there’s also a daily parade of horses and carriages.
During the fair there are free concerts in several squares in the old quarter such as Plaza Uncibay, Plaza Mitjana, Plaza de las Flores and Plaza de San Pedro de Alcántara (off Calle Carreteria).
Real de la Feria – the fairground in the west of city where partying goes on low-key during the day and at full intensity at night. The fairground is divided into the funfair and nearly 180 casetas areas, ‘huts’ with their own bar and music.
Top tip – free dancing shows (flamenco and traditional Malaga dances) and concerts take place in the City Hall caseta every evening from 11pm.
What can you do at Malaga fair?
Partying – the main activity accompanied by dancing verdiales (music and dances from the Malaga mountains) and sevillanas (typical dance from Seville) and plenty of drinking, usually Cartojal, a Malaga sweet wine or a rebujito (glass of fino or manzanilla sherry mixed with lemonade or Sprite) plus eating – plates of pescaíto (fried fish – baby squid, red mullet, anchovies, sardines).
Funfairing – some seriously big and heart-stopping rides pack into the fairground, crowned by a ferris wheel with great views of Malaga from the top.
Concert-going – lots of concerts (mostly free) take place during Malaga fair week. Here’s a link to the programme – click on each date to see what’s on and when. The daytime fair has 4 live music locations – Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza de las Flores, Plaza de la Merced and Plaza Mitjana. In 2018, Free Soul Band play every day between 1 and 6pm; a DJ plays in Plaza Mitjana every day from 4 to 6pm; and Plaza de la Constitución and de la Merced offer concerts by a variety of Spanish artists and groups.
Horse-shows – at the Real de la Feria every day at 4pm and 8pm.
Bull-fighting – some of Spain’s top bullfighters take on their quota of five bulls the fair. Fights take place at the bullring in La Malagueta.
Sports – sporting events take place during the week prior to the fair. These include a swim across the port, jabega races (find out more about these unusual boats), free yoga and an exhibition of waterpolo. More information here.
Tips for enjoying (and surviving) Malaga Fair
- For big, big crowds and lots and lots of noise. And in a small space. If you want to get a taste of the fair but don’t like the idea of so many people, pop along to Calle Larios at noon for a bit. Or visit the Real de la Feria during the day.
- For the heat – August is hot and sticky in Malaga so wear light clothing, stay in the shade and keep a bottle of water handy.
Use public transport
Give Malaga city centre and the fairground a wide, wide berth if you’re in a car. There won’t be any free parking spaces! Take public transport instead. Line F bus runs 24-hours a day between the centre of Malaga and the fairground. If you’re based outside the centre and want to get to the fairground on public transport, there are bus lines from most parts of town. Tickets cost €1.50 or you can buy 10 tickets for €9.95.
Top tip – if you’re coming to Calle Larios from outside Malaga by car, park (free) at the Martín Carpena sports stadium and get the Metro to El Perchel. Calle Larios is a 10-minute walk away.
Like all big fairs in Andalusia, celebrations in Malaga are fun but tiring. So take some time out on the beach or visit some of the Malaga attractions outside the centre – the Russian Museum, the English cemetery, La Concepción Botanical Gardens…
For real party fun, dress the part. Dresses cost from €100 and there are several good shops in the centre selling them and accessories. If you’re looking for a budget option, head for the Cudeca charity shops (located in Calle Compañía and Plaza de la Merced) for second-hand dresses from €30. You can also buy hats, hair accessories and other fair essentials at stalls on Calle Larios and the surrounding streets.
For fully up-to-date information about Malaga Fair and what’s going on in the city during the rest of the year sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter. In your inbox every other Friday.
Photo credit: Thanks to Emma Munck for permission to use her photo of Malaga fair fireworks.