The Moors and Christians festival in Villajoyosa
Every year in the last week of July, the people of Villajoyosa hold their annual Moors and Christians fiesta, recreating an epic battle fought in 1538 in which Berber pirates attacked the costal town. The festivities begin with processions around the streets on the 25th and 26th of July. The two armies, dressed in their historic costumes, march to the beat of drums and sounding of horns. These parades start at around 8 or 9pm and can finish at midnight. After the procession, many of the spectators will head off to one of the temporary bars set up about town. Moors and Christians festivals can be found in many towns and cities in Alicante and each is unique. What makes the Villajoyosa festival particularly special is the sea battle and beach landing, or “Desembarco”. Just before dawn, on the 28th, around 30 Moorish ships gather off the coast of the town while the defending Christians let off cannons and handheld mortars. A land battle then ensues as the Moors disembark their ships, and push the Christians from the coastline back to the castle walls, which are subsequently captured by the invaders. In the afternoon of the 28th the Christians make an attempt to recapture the castle, first through negotiations, and then with force after the negotiations break down. Another large battle follows resulting in the retreat of the Moorish troops. When you’re not in the heat of battle there are other events to enjoy, including concerts, dances, cooking competitions and (no Spanish fiesta is complete without one) fireworks displays. The Moors and Christians festival in Villajoyosa lasts from the 24th of July to the 31st. The highlight is the beach landing at dawn on the 28th; spectators begin assembling on the beach at around 5 o’clock so it is an early start should you wish to catch it. Or you can do as some of the locals do and simply stay up all night! Villajoyosa is around a 40 minute drive from Alicante Airport. For a taster of the Villajoyosa Moors and Christians festival watch the following video.
The Moors and Christians festival of Villajoyosa was declared to be of National Tourist interest on 3 July 2003: visit the official Desembarco website for more information.