Some dates below are approximate, as exact days may not be announced until 6 weeks before the actual festival. Confirm all dates with the Tourist Office of Spain.
Granada Reconquest Festival, Granada. The whole city celebrates the Christians' victory over the Moors in 1492 and the highest tower at the Alhambra opens to the public. For information, contact the Tourist Office of Granada (tel. 95-822-59-90). January 2.
Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), throughout Andalusia. Parades are held all over the province on the eve of the Festival of the Epiphany. Various "kings" dispense candy to kids. January 6.
Andrés Segovia International Guitar Competition, Almuñecar. The great Segovia, who as a young man fell in love with this part of Spain, created the "Andrés Segovia Award" in recognition of the importance of the Spanish guitar. Talented musicians from all over the world participate. Call tel. 95-864-04-25 (www.almunecar.com) for more information. For 5 days the first week in January.
Carnavales de Cádiz, Cádiz. The oldest and best-attended carnival in Spain is a freewheeling event full of costumes, parades, strolling troubadours, and drum beating. Call tel. 95-622-71-11 or go to www.carnavaldecadiz.com for more information. Mid-February.
Semana Santa (Holy Week), Seville. Although many of the country's smaller towns stage similar celebrations (especially notable in Málaga), the festivities in Seville are by far the most elaborate. From Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday, a series of processions with hooded penitents moves to the piercing wail of the saeta, a love song to the Virgin or Christ. Pasos (heavy floats) bear images of the Virgin or Christ. Again, make hotel reservations way in advance. Call the Seville Office of Tourism for details (tel. 95-422-14-04). Usually the last week of March.
Bullfights, all over Spain. Holy week traditionally kicks off the season all over Spain, especially in Seville.
Feria de Sevilla (Seville Fair). This is the most celebrated week of revelry in the country, with all-night flamenco dancing, merrymaking in casetas (entertainment booths), bullfights, horseback riding, flower-decked coaches, and dancing in the streets. Reserve a hotel early. For general information and exact festival dates, contact the Office of Tourism in Seville (tel. 95-422-14-14; www.turismo.sevilla.org). Second week after Easter.
Jerez May Horse Fair. Jerez de la Frontera stages this spectacular equestrian event at Gonzalez Hontoria Park. Many of the greatest riders, certainly some of the world's finest horses, take part in various endurance trials, coach driving, and dressage competitions. Call tel. 95-633-11-50 (www.andalusia.com) for more information. First week of May.
Festival de los Patios, Córdoba. At this famous fair, residents decorate their patios with cascades of flowers. Visitors wander from patio to patio. Call tel. 95-747-12-35 for more information. First 2 weeks of May.
Romería del Rocío (Pilgrimage of the Virgin of the Dew), El Rocío (Huelva). The most famous pilgrimage in Andalusia attracts a million people. Fifty men carry the statue of the Virgin 15km (9 miles) to Almonte for consecration. Check www.donquijote.org. Third week of May.
Corpus Christi, all over Andalusia. A major holiday on the Spanish calendar, this event is marked by big processions, especially in Málaga, Seville, and Granada. Mid-June.
International Music and Dance Festival, Granada. Granada's prestigious program of dance and music attracts international artists who perform at the Alhambra and other venues. It's a major event on Europe's cultural calendar; reserve well in advance. For the schedule and tickets, contact El Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada (tel. 95-822-18-44; www.granadafestival.org). Last week of June to first week of July.
Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen. In mid-July, the towns and fishing villages along the southern coast of Spain honor la Virgen del Carmen, the protector of seamen. An effigy of the virgin is paraded through the streets and taken for a sail on one of the gaily adorned boats in the harbor. The best place to see this fiesta is Estepona, but other major events honoring the saint take place in Málaga, Nerja, Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola, and Marbella. Check www.andalusia.com. July 16.
Feria de Málaga (Málaga Fair). One of the longest summer fairs in southern Europe (generally lasting 10 days), this celebration kicks off with fireworks and is highlighted by a parade of Arabian horses pulling brightly decorated carriages. Participants are dressed in colorful Andalusian garb. Plazas rattle with castanets, and wine is dispensed by the gallon. For information, call tel. 95-221-34-45; www.feria-de-malaga.es. The weekend before August 19.
Feria de Agosto, Málaga. Málaga's major fiesta of the summer honors the Reconquest of their city on August 19, 1487, from the Moors. The Old Town turns into one big street party with lots of entertainment. Locals dress up in the traditional costumes, and food and wine flow freely. At night the celebration moves to the city's fairgrounds in the suburbs. Call tel. 95-205-86-94 or visit www.feria-de-malaga.es. August 19.
Feria de Pedro Romero, Ronda. This fair is famous for a bullfight on the first Saturday in September. The matadors dress in "suits of light" from the 18th and 19th centuries. Before they face the bulls, horse-drawn carriages parade through the town with participants in what Andalusians call "Goyesque costumes." The procession ends at the bullring. Call tel. 95-287-12-72; www.spanish-fiestas.com for more information. First week in September.
Autumn Festival, Jerez de la Frontera. The whole sherry-producing town celebrates with a grape harvest parade, a "treading of the grapes" ceremony, a horse show, horse races, a locally staged opera, a flamenco festival, sports activities, and various religious observances honoring the town's patron saint. For more information, call tel. 95-635-98-63; www.andalucia-travelguide.com. All month.
Grape Harvest Festival, Jerez de la Frontera. Andalusia's major wine festival honors the famous sherry of Jerez, with 5 days of processions, flamenco dancing, bullfights, livestock on parade, and, of course, sherry drinking. For information, call tel. 95-633-11-50; www.whatsonwhen.com. Mid-October (dates vary).
All Saints' Day, all over Spain. This public holiday is reverently celebrated with relatives and friends laying flowers on the graves of loved ones. November 1.
Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales, outside Málaga. Verdiales are traditional forms of song and dance in Málaga province. On April Fools' Day, there's a competition staged at Venta San Cayetano del Puerto de la Torre on the outskirts of the city, to decide which village troupe can sing and dance the best. The party goes on all night, with music, food stalls, and lots of flowing wine. Check www.andalucia.com. December 28.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.