Orihuela Moors and Christians Festival

The Orihuela Moors And Christians Festival promises visitors a riot of colourful costumes, song, dance, fireworks, fierce battles and frightening explosions. Often just referred to as Moors and Christians (Moros y Cristianos) it is a well anticipated festival that takes place each year in various Spanish towns and cities. Although some of the re-enactments are huge, elaborate affairs, the festival basically depicts the liberation of Orihuela and other towns from Muslim rule.

Orihuela Moors and Christians Festival
Source: Flickr / Jesús Aledo

Records show the festivals began as far back as the 1500's with the first Orihuela Moors And Christians Festival being held in 1579. They were fairly small events to begin with. However the increased liberation after the Spanish Civil War led to the festivals growing in size and splendour. These days months are spent in preparation for the event. As is usually the case with Spanish festivals, everyone gets involved. Individuals, theatrical groups and various societies all lend a hand in the preparation of floats, parades, firework displays stage props, weapons and costumes.

Orihuela Moors and Christians Festival Events

The week long festival usually takes place in mid July, with various events held throughout the streets of the old town. At the end of the festival, the spectacular re-enactment of the main battle takes place around the remains of Orihuela Castle. This truly is an event to behold, with various regional and national television stations on site to record the festivities. Participants in the events include just as many women as men, and the elaborate costumes are a wonderful sight.

Spectators love to get involved too, many choosing sides and children dressing up to look like their chosen heroes. Moors in their flowing robes wield scimitars and ride upon majestic camels or even elephants. Christians bedecked in furs with fearsome weapons and armour parade on horseback, letting off loud shots from their muskets. During the Orihuela Moors And Christians Festival visitors will get to witness some fantastic parades, dancing, medieval music, fireworks and even gunpowder explosions. A variety of stalls provide spectators with much food and drink.

Orihuela Moors and Christians Festival Battle

Each day's events are celebrated with much fanfare, and the more boisterous spectators continue partying well into the early hours. Sore heads in the morning are greeted with the next day's line up of noisy events as a punishing reminder of the night before. However, most visitors take this in their stride as the anticipation of the final battle mounts. The final event takes place around the castle with a fearsome battle display ending with the Christians defeating the Moors.

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