The Murcia Fair (Feria De Murcia) is an annual collection of distinct events held throughout Murcia City in the beginning of September. The two-week celebration can be thought of as several fairs within a fair, some occurring simultaneously. The fair dates back to 1266 and began life as a livestock market where local farmers would come into the city to trade their livestock. Businesses and events soon sprang up to cater for the yearly influx of people (and their money) and the fair became a grander and more exciting event.
In keeping with tradition, proceedings still begin with a livestock fair in La Azacaya, just outside the city. The event features various displays and competitions, including dog obedience shows and a horse parade that heads into the city centre.
As well as celebrating this long-held tradition, Murcia Fair honours the patron saint of the city, the Virgen de la Fuensanta. On the first day of the fair, a statue of the Virgen de la Fuensanta is carried in ceremonial procession to the Cathedral of Murcia, in the city centre, from its home in Sanctuario de la Fuensanta (pictured). Here the statue remains for the rest of the fair for prayers and services before being returned to the church for another year.
A highlight of the Murcia Fair for the young and young-at-heart is the funfair at La Fica. The 46,000 square metres of rides and attractions draw in thousands of visitors each night and is certainly a fun way of spending an evening.
If you don’t have a head for the heights at the fairground, wander the riverside Gardens of Malecon (Huertos del Malecon). Local groups construct scaled-down versions of traditional rural houses set in unique gardens in which you can sit and order local tapas and wine.
During your visit to the Murcia Fair you might come across soldiers bearing swords and armour at a concert, shopping, or perhaps eating some candyfloss. That’s because Murcia’s Moors and Christians fiesta also forms part of this fair of fairs. In commemoration of battles that took place locally between Christians and the Moorish invaders in the 15th century, locals don medieval costumes and march through the streets in impressive parades. The temporary soldiers also re-enact key moments from that period of history and demonstrate the power of the harquebus (an early muzzle-loaded firearm) in events throughout the fair.
It’s hard to run out of things to see and do during these 2 weeks: with canoeing on the Rio Segura, craft fairs, kids activities, bullfighting, fireworks displays, street theatre, fishing competitions, water polo, and plenty of musical performances, there’s always something happening.
This year (2013) the fair runs from September the 5th until September 17th. At the time of writing the schedule for this year’s programme is not yet available. General tourist information can be found at the official Murcia Tourist Office website and for a comprehensive guide of what to see and do in Murcia we recommend Murcia Today.
Murcia City is around an hour’s drive from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Alicante Airport.