Marbella – Feria de San Bernabe

Cool off at the Marbella fair with your very own a Spanish fan!
Authentic flamenco fashion.

Every year at the beginning of June, Marbella pays homage to its patron saint San Bernabe (Saint Bernard) with a weeklong fair. The Marbella féria includes all the traditional elements of an Andalusian fair: food, drink, dancing, entertainment and of course, the trademark “casetas” that are set up just for the fair.

The actual date of the Marbella fair is determined by San Bernabé Day, which is June 11th. This is always a local holiday and the fair takes place during the first or second week of June depending on where the 11th falls and how the Town Hall thinks it best fits with all the festivities.

In the runup to the Marbella Fair, a contest is held to choose the King and Queen of the festivities. The compitition usually takes place the week before the fair begins at one of the town’s many well equipped hotels, and it is open to the public.

The fair itself generally receives an official inauguration the Sunday before the Monday when all the activity really starts. On Monday night everyone heads for the beach near the emblematic El Fuerte Hotel (one of the oldest in town) to see the fireworks before diving in to a full scale feria frenzy the next day. From there, you can expect the “day fair” to take over the old part of Marbella and the “night fair” (féria de noche) to be held outside of town near the La Cañada shopping centre. Bus service connects the city centre with all the action on the outskirts.


Cool off at the Marbella fair with your very own a Spanish fan! © Michelle Chaplow

Cool off at the Marbella fair with your very own a Spanish fan!.

There are so many things going on during féria week you would do well to obtain one of the many guides available – either a free guide or one distributed in the local newspapers. Stop by the tourist office (there is a centrally located tourist office in the centre of Marbella’s old town in the Plaza del Naranjo) to load up on information and maps and also to get the friendly staff to help you come up with a workable plan in order to see the sights, experience the most authentic fair events and get in on the concerts, dance performances, parades and so many other activities that will be taking place throughout the week.

To really experience the Marbella Fair in style you might like to dress in authentic flamenco fashion. Ask your way to a shop selling “trajes de gitano” in the old town and you are sure to find someone who can deck you out like a native. Do be advised that flamenco dresses run into the hundreds of euros. However, as an alternative you can purchase a simple black lycra flamenco style skirt – the ones used in dance classes and some performances – and then combine it with a lycra flamenco-style body suit (they come with ruffles on the sleeves). Wear this outfit with your hair slicked back, strategically placed flowers, large plastic ear rings, necklaces and bracelets, artfully applied makeup – and don’t forget the flamenco shoes – and you’ll be ready to sing and dance with the rest of them (for a fraction of the cost of dressing in full flamenco gear)!