From 25th August to the 9th September.
This is three events rolled into one, a religious core, an Autumn Feria and a Romería, all taking place within the same week as the heat of summer dies down.
The Fiestas of the Santos Mártires San Abdón and San Senén.
The main religious acts of these fiestas take place in the July, the Fiestas patronales of these 2 patron saints of the town. Originally the acts which accompanied the fiestas, including the bull running, the encierros, took place alongside these religious celebrations, but the two parts were separated in the 19th century and held at different times of the year, mainly due to the heat of summer.
The autumn feria centres around the age-old traditions of livestock Ferias like this one dating back to the mediaeval autumn fairs. After the heat of the summer, the ganaderos would bring their livestock down to the Ferias for sale, and the events grew into sociable occasions with entertainments, music and plenty of other goods and services on offer for the duration. Murcia has a number of livestock fairs in September, and this one in Calasparra focuses on the two great obsessions of the area rice and bullfighting.
The Feria begain in the nineteenth century, when the council were trying to revitalise the economy following economic recession, merging the activities of the religious celebrations of the two patrons with the livestock sales.
Nowadays, there is no livestock fair at the heart of this feria, bullfighting having become the core element of the week, although the events which draw even more people than the bullfighting are the encierros, the bullrunning, which takes place at 10am every morning for the duration of the 6 days of the bullfights.
This is a similar activity to the run at Pamplona, but not through such a dangerous course. At 10am, the bulls which will be participating in the evening events run a 1 km course through town, with the young bloods running in front of them. It's over in about 5 minutes, and is televised for those who would rather enjoy the safety of home than risk being down in the streets as the bulls run. People do get injured, normally because they trip or become over-confident.
Whilst many expats are offended by any coverage relating to bullfighting, it's very difficult to separate the Feria from the bullfighting, as there is such a strong following in the north-west of the region for bullfighting. Nearby Caravaca and Cehegín both have busy permanent bullrings and the bullfights during this week are inevitably fully sold-out.
Having been made very aware of the anti-bullfighting sentiments of some readers, no programmes are included on the site, although the encierros are put in to the what´s on section as they attract thousands of spectators, amongst them many ex-pats. In addition, you´ll find the Recinto ferial set up at the end of Gran Vía, with a tapas route running, rice and plenty of beer on sale, and the inevitable stalls which accompany the Ferias, as well as fairground and musical entertainments.
Romería of the Esperanza
The Virgen de la Esperanza has been venerated in Calasparra since the early 17th century, and although she was brought down into the town sporadically over a period of several hundred years, this Romería in her honour didn´t begin until the early 20th century.
She was named Patrona of the town in 1840.
The Romería is always celebrated on the evening of the 7th September with the main religious events on the 8th. Click Romería de la Esperanza for more information.
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