Residents in seaside towns and villages flocked to the shoreline on Tuesday evening for the annual processions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (or the Virgen del Carmen), the images of the Virgin Mary traditionally seen as watching over seafarers. The celebrations coincided with the Carmen feast day itself (16 July), however some of the more eye-catching land and sea events will take place this Sunday, 21 July, attracting many spectators.
The annual ritual of carrying the images of Our Lady to the water's edge on their ornate platforms or 'tronos', ahead of a waterborne procession in the middle of a flotilla of small boats, is always an emotional experience for many who were brought up by the sea. In the Malaga district of El Palo, one local resident said on Tuesday, "I was a fisherman for fifty years of my life, a seafarer through and through. Today is a great day. I've taken the Virgin of Carmen down to the sea [previously], and now it's the turn of the younger ones; but the emotion is the same." Similar emotions were repeated along the coast.
In Marbella, as in other places, flowers were scattered in memory of those seafarers who had been lost at sea.
Vantage points along the promenades were packed, with 'chiringuitos' reporting that tables had been booked weeks ago.
More to come on Sunday
On Sunday, 21 July, three important processions will take place in Malaga city, attracting many visitors and locals.
On the central La Malagueta beach at about 11am, divers will bring up an image of Our Lady which, unusually, is kept in an underwater grotto all year. This is followed by a procession in the area. It will return to its underwater home after 6pm.
Nearby, the separate procession of the Our Lady of Carmel statue from the Perchel area will reach the city's port at 10am for a two-hour seaborne procession before moving to Malaga Cathedral for mass at 1pm. The image will leave the Cathedral again at 8.30pm.
Meanwhile, a more relaxed community atmosphere will prevail in the evening in the Huelin area, west of the city centre, with the image setting out at 7pm from San Patricio church for a maritime procession from San Andrés beach (at the far edge of the port) from 9.30pm.
One more procession will take place next Friday, 26 July, in Torre del Mar, Axarquía, from San Andrés church at 7.30pm.