Every city or town in Spain has its own annual feria (fair) and the city of Valencia knows how to party like the best of them. A legendary festival, the first July Fair in Valencia was held in 1871 and lasted for just one day. In 2014, it will span the entire month and locals and visitors are in for a very special celebration…
A diverse events programme incorporates Valencian tradition and culture along with international influence, with performing arts, special exhibitions and cultural events taking place in iconic landmarks across the city. Colour, music, dancing and food and drink are high on the priority list and in true Spanish style, events are focused on good, old-fashioned family fun.
The festival’s opening concert is one of many spectacular performances that are scheduled to take place, from orchestras to flamenco dance recitals and drum battles. Nighttime recitals will take place in the Viveros Gardens (from 3-20 July), while the beautiful Palau de la Musica will also play host to a number of events. The City of Valencia International Music Band Contest will see bands from all eras battling it out for first place.
To accompany the music, there’ll be plentiful opportunity to have a taste of the Valencian kitchen with everything from paella to horchata on offer. Horchata – an intriguing drink with Valencian origins that contains tigernuts (chufas) – is traditionally served with sticky, sugar-glazed sweets (fartons).
All that jazz
A highlight of the month is the Jazz Festival (28 June-15 July) opening with a fantastic concert in the gardens of the Palau de la Musica that is free to the public. A star-studded lineup throughout the fortnight includes a whole host of Grammy nominees with classical and jazz fusion pieces, harmony, binary jazz and bass. Highly celebrated artists will be in attendance including Freddy Cole – brother of the iconic Nat King Cole – who will play with his quartet, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and singer Stacey Kent.
Bullfights will be held in the Plaza de Toros. Tickets can be bought outside the venue and it’s highly recommended to buy a seat in the shade as July temperatures in Valencia can be high. Young bulls will take up the fight against the highest-ranking matadors as part of the San Jaime fiesta. Elsewhere, the funfair in Turia Park will keep kids entertained for hours with a huge Ferris wheel, spooky haunted house and a number of colourful carousels.
The stunning Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers) takes place on the final Sunday of the month – an incredible parade of floats decorated with an array of colourful flowers that travel along the Paseo de la Alameda. This dazzling closing ceremony will see beautifully dressed women atop the floats throw flowers into the crowds, with spectators equipped with crates of flowers to throw right back! Make sure to stick around to see the Spanish light opera (zarzuela) with its music, dance and song and witness the sparking mascletà (string of firecrackers) and spectacular fireworks that will close the month’s festivities.