Like any other region of Spain and particularly in Andalucía, Granada has a large variety of festivals throughout the year, from the religious and traditional to the modern and musical.
Feted with a special intensity in Andalucía, the Holy Week is a mix of religion, tradition and enjoyment.
It’s an opportunity to experience a different side of Granada, where Catholics, other faithfuls and pagans join in a city-wide celebration.
Semana Santa is similar to Easter. It starts with Viernes de Dolores (Friday of Sorrows) and finishes with Resurrection Sunday. In these 10 days, the streets of Andalusia are taken over by representations of the imprisonment, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in various procesiones, or street parades. In Granada alone, you can witness 32 processions, each one undertaken by a different brotherhood.
There are two particularly beautiful processions to attend. These are: Holy Wednesday, known as Cristo de los Gitanos (Christ of the Gypsies) During the journey, the neighbourhood gypsies light bonfires, sing and dance to Christ and the Virgin and on Holy Thursday, the processions move to the Albaicín with the “Hermanidad del Silencio,” whose tradition imposes an absolute silence save for a lone drummer and is guided only by candlelight.
Corpus or “la Feria” began over 500 years ago by royal mandate of Queen Isabel the Catholic and has been celebrated ever since with fervor and passion by granadinos young and old alike. It is a time to take a break from the daily grind and to enjoy a bit of merriment and fun with your fellow neighbors.
Corpus is usually in early June, but the dates change according to the holy dates. Corpus takes place 8 weeks after Semana Santa (Easter)
Beginning on the Monday, at midnight with the alumbrado, when the thousands of lights that decorate the fair are lit, and ending the following Sunday with a spectacular fireworks display (trueno gordo); Corpus is a must-see cultural event.
The fair boasts a variety of activities and events and coincides with the official start of the bullfighting season in Granada.
On the 3rd of May every year Granada celebrates the “fiesta de las Cruces” a festival that is emblematic of the city. A date filled with tradition and charm. The fiesta of the cruces stems from the XVII century and takes its current configuration from the early years of the twentieth century. It brings a festival in which each barrio or neighbourhood organises to erect in the street a large cross ornately adorned with flowers and precious metalwork.
The barrios with the most tradition are those of the Albaicín and the Realejo, but all of the city and its inhabitants compete to erect the best Cross and to collect one of the prizes awarded by the Town Hall.
As with most Spanish festivals there is plenty of music and dancing as well as flowing beer and Tinto de Verano (similar to sangria).
June “Festival Cines del Sur Granada”. This annual cinema festival celebrates some of the best movies from developing countries including works from Africa, Asia and Latin America
June – July The Annual “Festival Internacional de Musica y Danza Granada”. Probably the best recognized music and dance festival throughout Spain. The festival consists of some of the finest performers from all parts of the Iberian peninsula and the rest of the world, from the classic to the contemporary.
A couple of other festivals worth keeping an eye out for:
International jazz festival (October / November)
Concurso de Tapas (March)
International Tango Festival (March)