The feast of Moors and Christians, celebrated at different times of the year throughout Spain, is a symbol of remembrance of the retaking of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rule.
Whilst the festival in Alcoy, Alicante is probably the most well documented, the town of Vélez de Benaudalla, in the Costa Tropical de Granada, is renowned locally for celebrating this annual event in style. Each year detailed preparations are made for the celebration which is held over 4 days straddling the 13th June.
The battle itself takes place in two stages on the 13th, the first stage occurring just before lunch and the second during the evening. Participants are divided into two camps, Moors and Christians, and are dressed, somewhat elaborately, to correspond to the medieval times of each culture. In many areas the groups will adopt historical collective names.
The Christians usually have names like Almogávares, Navarros, Crusaders, Mirenos, Andalucíans, Knights del Cid, Knights of the Barony, with the Arabs, for their part having names such as Almoravids, Almohads, Bedouins, Abenzoares, Magenta, Berbers etc. Lines are drawn and a zealous battle commences, with the crowd cheering on raucously. Despite the foregone conclusion of the Moors being summarily defeated by the Christians, this does not lessen the enthusiasm nor the excitement of the re-enactment.
Other activities across the period include a giant paella, a children's funfair, children's games, dance performances and theatre productions.
Any Spanish fiesta would not be complete without a parade, and particularly one that is notable for the spectacular costumes, elegant horses and intricately decorated floats. To this end the Moors and Christians Festival is definitely a Spanish fiesta that should feature on your 'must do' list.