Marbella is both typical and modern town, with streets and brilliant white houses, the famous celebration of the Moors and Christians regularly took place in bygone times.
Amongst key dates on Marbella’s calendar of celebrations are the traditional fair or “feria” around 11th June, in honour of the town’s patron saint, San Bernabé – Saint Barnabas. This colourful event is a riotous combination of flamenco music, parades of horsemen and women, of the typical dances of Andalusia, and of pop music for the young. Celebrations where the smell of orange blossom drenches the Plaza de los Naranjos, and citizens and visitors throng the Old Town’s streets, squares and bars from early morning. Strangers shake hands to show their friendship and respect, toast each other with a glass of wine, and continue celebrating far into the night.
The festival of Nuestra Senora del Carmen takes place on the 16th July, is the festival of the men and women of the sea – fishermen and their wives and families. With visitors and citizens, they share their famous procession, part on land, part at sea, their traditional dances and the popular “Moraga”, skewers of sardines roasted before blazing log fires on the beach.
Before this, a recently revived celebration is the excursion at the beginning of May up to the Juanar area of the Sierra Blanca mountain range behind the town. Participants wend their way through the foothills to the peak with its iron cross, symbolizing tales and legends of bygone times. A thanksgiving mass is celebrated at the foot of the cross.
The last celebration of the year is on 1st November, All Saints’ Day, and “El Toston” – nothing to do with either a Portuguese coin, nor the idea of boredom or annoyance – but in its Marbella meaning – the roasting of chestnuts.
For many years, groups of citizens have left their homes early in the morning of 1st November to toast chestnuts and drink a small glass of absinthe at a number of spots on the townskirts – El Trapiche, Camojan, Puente de Palos and El Herrojo in San Pedro. All what they need to roast the chestnuts is an old tin with a few holes pierced on the bottom, a bag of salt and a box of matches.