Maybe youd like to visit southernmost Spain for the reliable, sunny weather this Autumn, or perhaps youre planning for a tour of one of the iconic cultural and historical sites such as the Alhambra in Granada or the Mezquita in Cordoba after the summer crowds have thinned. Theres always a great reason to visit Andalucia in any season, though Autumn offers some undeniable advantages.
The weather is perhaps the most comfortable of the year, plenty warm enough for sunbathing and bumming around at the beaches, but not so intense that you risk your wellbeing on a mountain hike. And any experience will be all the more enjoyable for the increased intimacy that again settles on the region after the school holidays have ended.
Still, theres one other incentive that is often overlooked from abroad but thoroughly embraced by the locals: the string of harvest and culinary festivals taking place all across Malaga Province every Autumn. Particularly in the pastoral, agricultural region known as La Axarquia in easternmost Malaga Province, September is as bountiful with culinary festivals as the harvest itself.
Each fiesta will include music, dancing and entertainment, as well as tonnes of whatever the particular culinary focus may be. Whether or not the festival celebrates wine, you can be assured that plenty will flow. Nobody does a fiesta quite like the Spanish, get in now with an Autumn tour and taste what youve been missing.
The legacy of Moscatel
Malaga Province has been famed for its exquisite, sweet Moscatel wines since the Roman era, and in fact, production began some 3000 years ago with the Phoenicians. Its only natural that the region would still be celebrating this local treat. The vendimias are festivals dedicated to the grape harvest and youll find them all across Andalucia; but Malaga Province, including the region of La Axarquia, hosts many of these and many of the best. There was a time in the region when the raisins were even more prized than the grapes or wine; this tradition carries on.
Grape harvest festival, Manilva, 5th September
Wine makers festival, Moclinejo, 13th September
Festival of raisins and wine, Viñuela, 13th-14th September
Raisin festival, El Borge, 20th September
Malaga Province is also a huge production centre of almonds; as with the Andalucían olive, its virtually impossible to walk into any tapas bar and not see salted almonds offered along with a cold drink. Autumn is the time when these ubiquitous nuts are ready to harvest, and therefore time to celebrate. Not only is there an Autumn fiesta dedicated to the almond itself, but another to celebrate ajo blanco, a local cold soup made from ground almonds and garlic, and traditionally served with sweet grapes or raisins. Best made with slightly green almonds, the September festival is a prime time to sample ajo blanco. Try it, you’ll like it.
Almond and garlic soup festival, Almachar, 5th September
Almond festival, Almogia, 27th September
However, almonds are not the only nut in production and chestnuts are not limited to the winter holidays. In Malaga Province the harvest comes already by the end of October. The village of Alcaucin proudly hosts a truly communal celebration, handing out a mountain of roasted chestnuts along with roasted sweet potatoes, almond cookies and a small shot of liquor all for free to residents and visitors.
Chestnut festival, Alcaucin, end October
And from the sea…
With a privileged position on the Mediterranean Sea, Malaga Province contains some of the busiest fishing ports on the entire Spanish coast. Naturally then, the fruits of the sea must also be celebrated. Another local delicacy is the boqueron, a type of white anchovy usually preserved in vinegar or lightly fried with lemon. When the season is right, these run in schools swarming by the thousands. In September the season is right.
Anchovy festival, Rincon de la Victoria, 25th-27th September
This is just a taste of whats to come in terms of gastronomic festivals, rest assured that there are plenty of other non-culinary festivals in Autumn. And if the fiesta is not exactly your thing, you can still take advantage of the perfect weather, the dissipated crowds and the uniquely Spanish cultural heritage that has forever drawn travelers to these shores.
Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.
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