Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Special Events’ Category

Seville | Film Festival 2015

cinesevilla2015seff

The 12th Sevilla Festival de Cine Europeo (SEFF 2015) comes to town on Friday, November 6, for a nine day stay until Saturday, November 14. The primary organisers are the Institute of Arts and Culture of Sevilla (ICAS), and the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA), with the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. It aims to bring together performers and professionals from the world of cinema, with journalists and critics, financial providers and the general public, and to showcase the best of contemporary European cinema.

The core of the Festival is the competitive sections of different categories of films. The main Official Section is for the year’s most important new European films, the winners receiving the Gold (first prize) and Silver (second prize) Giraldillos. Among the films on show will be “Bitter Well”, “Berserker”, “Toxic Love”, and “The Foreigner”. Other sections include New Wave and New Wave non-fiction for new talents and fringe cinema, short films, Spanish cinema and cinema for younger viewers. There will also be awards for Best Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay. The principal venues will be at Cines Sur in Nervion, the Alameda Theatre, and the Lope de Vega Theatre, where you will also be able to see special screenings, tributes and retrospectives.

There will be opportunities for roundtables and seminars with leading figures from the world of European cinema, and exhibitions and concerts with cinematic themes.

For lovers of cinema planning to visit the festival we still have a range of quality holiday apartments available in the historic centre of Seville.

Seville | Noche en Blanco (sleepless night) 2015

noche-blanco-sevilla

“Noches en blanco”, literally meaning Nights in White, but here used colloquially to mean sleepless nights, have become increasingly popular around Spain in recent years, including here in Seville, where the fourth annual Noche en Blanco event will be held on the evening of Friday, October 2, starting around 8 pm and continuing into the small hours of the morning. It’s organised by the Association Sevillasemueve in conjunction with many of the city’s monuments, museums and theatres, as well as tour companies and guides, with the purpose of promoting Seville’s rich cultural life to as wide an audience as possible.

The night visits and tours allow you to see monuments and museums in a different light (both literally and figuratively), and some will give access to parts of buildings normally closed to the public. Among this year’s top attractions are guided tours of the Cathedral, Los Venerables, the Archives of the Indies, the Antiquarium, Saint George’s Castle (headquarters of the Inquisition), and the Triana ceramics centre and museum, as well as exhibitions at the Casa de Murillo, Casa de la Provincia, Contemporary Arts Centre and Santa Ines Monastery.

noche blanco flamenco

Musical events include flamenco at the Casa de la Memoria and Casa del Flamenco, and a rock concert at the Mudejar Museum.

If you want to know more about Seville there’s a wide range of themed walking tours through the night time streets that will introduce you to aspects of the city you didn’t know existed.

The full programme of events can be found here.

If you’re coming to Seville on holiday, renting one of our apartments will give you the flexibility to stay out as late as you like. Have a good weekend.

Granada | Cruces de Mayo and the Feria of Corpus Christi

There are always good reasons to visit Granada. The best known is Europe’s most visited monumental complex, the Alhambra Palace, last refuge of the Moors in Spain, and capital of the Nasrid dynasty of Spain for 250 years until it surrendered to the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. There are also the historic neighbourhoods of the Albaicin, Realejo and Sacramonte to explore, and the bars and restaurants of San Matias to sample some of the local hospitality. But this time of year, as spring turns to summer, is when Granada puts on its gladrags and celebrates some of its major festivals.

granada cruz mayo (1)Cruz de Mayo at Mirador de San Cristobal [photo courtesy of John Sullivan]

The first of these is the Cruces del Mayo (May Crosses), held on May 3, although celebrations continue for several days around the official one. According to the stories this is the day when Saint Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, discovered the pieces of the True Cross of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, but this event has been assimilated to a pagan spring flower festival. The result is the appearance of flower-decked crosses in the streets and plazas of the city (this year about 80 of them), with a competition for the best. The festival has a special emphasis on children, who build their own crosses and parade them through the streets.

granada corpus (2)Dragon float

Undoubtedly the principal attraction of this time of year, and in fact Granada’s biggest annual festival, is around Corpus Christi (this year falling on June 4), and includes Granada’s feria, bullfighting, the Corpus Christi religious processions, and the essentially pagan procession of La Tarasca. The Feria of Granada starts officially at midnight on Saturday May 30 with the Alumbrao, the switching on of the lights, though people will start coming to the fairground earlier in the day. It ends at midnight the following Saturday with a fireworks display. Like most Spanish fairs the daytime is for the parades of horses and carriages, their riders and drivers in traditional costume, and everything and everyone at their smartest and shiniest. Night time is for eating and drinking and dancing flamenco.

From Thursday June 4 to Sunday June 7 is Granada’s main bullfighting season, with fights at the bullring each evening at 7 pm.

granada corpus (1)La Tarasca

At midday on Wednesday is Granada’s famous La Tarasca procession. The participants wear big papier-mache heads and fancy dress costumes (which are a closely guarded secret until the parade assembles in the Plaza del Carmen), but the centrepieces are the gigantes – statues of famous historical figures, and the traditional fire-breathing dragon. It’s colourful and noisy in the best carnival tradition and draws huge crowds of both locals and visitors, so arrive early if you want a “ringside seat”. This is the most popular day of the holiday, so afterwards the partying will carry on until the small hours, so you need plenty of stamina.

granada corpusCorpus Christi altar

The following day (starting at the Cathedral at 10.15 am) is the religious procession of Corpus Christi, the Catholic celebration of the Eucharist. This is the solemn and serious part of the holiday, and is still a popular day in the religious calendar, with large numbers paying their respects to the Sacrament as it’s carried through the streets.

granada cruz mayo (3)Cruz de Mayo at San Agustín Market [photo courtesy of John Sullivan]

If you’re coming to Granada for the celebrations we still have apartments for rent in locations around the city centre and old town.

Seville | Bienal de Flamenco

Flamenco is the traditional song, dance and music artform of Andalucia, which evolved from it’s gypsy and North African roots into something like its present form around the 17th century. If you’re into all things Flamenco, then for sure Seville is the place you want to be during the next five weeks. If you’re not, then come anyway, and you may well become a convert. From September 12 to October 15 the city is hosting the Bienal de Flamenco, the largest festival of flamenco in the world, and the city will be alive with the passions, sounds and rhythms of Spanish guitar and flamenco dance.

bienal flamenco 2014photo courtesy of the Bienal de Flamenco website

The slogan for this, the 18th edition of the festival which began in 1980, is fuente y caudal, source and flow, a reference to a 1973 album by the legendary Paco de Lucia. I have been lucky enough to have seen him play twice at previous bienals, and was looking forward to seeing him again this time around, but sadly it was not to be as he passed away suddenly earlier this year. A number of events have been planned as a homage to his memory, including a “We Play For Paco” event the day before the official opening, which will be held in Plaza San Francisco.

paco de luciaPaco de Lucía – photo courtesy of the Bienal de Flamenco website

Many of the big names in flamenco will be here, performing in the city’s major venues, such as the Espacio Santa Clara, the Alcázar Palace, the San Telmo Palace, and the city’s four main theatres, the Maestranza, Lope de Vega, Alameda and Central, but the Bienal is not just about big name performers. There will be dozens of rising talents and young hopefuls in the smaller theaters and clubs, and because flamenco is a tradition that develops, rather than being fixed and rigid, I’m expecting fringe and fusion styles of flamenco to be well represented.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s festival the official venues for street performances are clustered along the river, and around some of the city’s famous fountains, such as in the Puerta Jerez and Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes, but as in previous years less formal shows may pop up almost anywhere in the city.

There will also be exhibitions of photographs and flamenco memorabilia, forums and other activities, including a special symposium on the life and work of Paco de Lucia.

Bienal de Flamenco 2014
September 12 – October 15
Official Programme

Jerez – Xèréz – Sherry (and Horses)

This week we’re going to take a look at what’s going on in and around Jerez, which can be easily reached from Seville by train or by car, and makes a great destination for a day out. As we all know, Jerez de la Frontera (to give it its full name) is the centre of the Sherry region, and is also world-famous for its horses. Not surprisingly, both of these figure prominently in the Jerez Spring Fair, La Feria del Caballo, which this year is between May 11 and May 18, immediately following the Seville Fair.

feriaFeria del Caballo in Jerez de la Frontera

The Jerez fair is probably the oldest of Andalucia’s horse fairs, with roots going back to the 13th century, and it’s also my favourite. For a start it’s held in a pretty public park, Parque González Hontoria, rather than a glorified parking lot like many other fairs. There’s more space, the great majority of the casetas, including those of the big sherry houses, are open to the public, and the whole thing has a more relaxed, almost genteel, feel to it. The horse and carriage parades are fabulous, even for non-horsy people like me, and for the aficionado there is a commercial horse show and market, Equisur, alongside the main fair. And if you do want a bit more noise and excitement there’s always the nearby Calle del Infierno (Hell Street) with all the familiar fairground attractions.

After Jerez, it’s the turn of the second of the sherry towns, El Puerto de Santa María, where the Feria de Primavera and Vino Fino runs from May 21 to May 26. As well as the fair, try and fit in a visit to one of the old bodegas, which are fascinating places.

sanlucar bartapas bar with sherry casks in Sanlucar de Barrameda

It’s immediately followed by the last of the sherry towns, Sanlucar de Barrameda, whose Feria de Manzanilla kicks off at midnight on May 27 and lasts until June 1. Apart from the usual “fun-of-the-fair”, including horses, bullfights and manzanilla sherry, Sanlucar is also a seaside town with a nice beach, a traditional central square with lots of restaurants, and a small but historically important old town, the Barrio Alto.

To while away the time in between you might like to pay a visit to the Vinoble International Exhibition of Noble Wines,  a biennial event in Jerez for fortified, dessert and sweet wines, this year running from May 25-27. This coincides with Jerez being named the European Wine City for 2014 and is the premier international event of its kind, and apart from local producers also attracts exhibitors from around the world. Have fun and find out about some unusual and excellent wines at the same time. To make it a real win-win, the venue is the  Alcazar de Jerez, a stunning combination of Moorish fortress, mosque, palace and gardens.

vinoble 2014

Last, but not least, if all this has whetted your appetite for all things sherry, June 2 to 8 is International Sherry Week, with sherry events both locally and in 20 countries around the world. There are over a hundred events in Spain alone so have a look at the website for those taking place in and around Seville.