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The fiesta of the Virgen del Carmen remembers those lost at sea

The Virgin is escorted into the sea by dozens of devotees.
The Virgin is escorted into the sea by dozens of devotees. / SUR
  • The festivities will be taking place all along the coast on Tuesday 16 July with processions and live entertainment

The Virgen del Carmen festivities will be taking place all along the coast on Tuesday 16 July, and this colourful, religious event is one of the most popular summer activities on the Costa del Sol. Processions in honour of the much-loved Santa María de Monte Carmelo, known also as the Virgen Del Carmen, the patron of mariners and fishermen, take place after a traditional seafaring mass.

One of the most emotional moments comes when the Virgin is escorted into the water in order to honour those that lost their lives in the sea. She is taken out to sea on a flower- adorned boat accompanied by dozens of small fishing boats signalling the beginning of the fiesta, which in some cases will incorporate the town's feria, or a series of cultural activities and concerts.

The festival can be found taking place on numerous beaches along the coast, including Almuñécar, Nerja, Caleta de Vélez, Rincón de la Victoria, La Malagueta, La Carihuela and Fuengirola.

Celebrations in honour of the Virgen del Carmen in Almuñécar take place between Saturday and Tuesday and, along with the procession, will include children's attractions and live entertainment.

Nerja's celebrations generally take place over three days and this year will begin on 15 July. Local people visit the El Salvador Church at 7.30pm to say prayers to the Virgin and enjoy a performance by the Peña Nerjeña Choir.

The formal procession on Tuesday starts from Plaza El Balcón de Europa at 6pm, while an open-air party with live music is held in the Plaza de los Cangrejos the following day at 10pm.

La Caleta de Vélez enjoys a two-day event that starts on Monday with a gastronomic fair and entertainment on the beach, followed by a concert by Spanish singer Sergio Contreras. The procession will take place at 9pm on Tuesday.

The Fiestas Marineras y Deportivas in El Palo, Malaga, is held from today until Tuesday, 16 July. This small feria is held in the Plaza Padre Cigando and the Plaza de La Milagrosa, where visitors can enjoy the fair and the music and entertainment from midday until the early hours. The procession of La Virgen del Carmen de los Submarinistas breaks with tradition, as it is held on the Sunday 21 July. The procession will leave the parish church in El Perchel at 8am, but, instead of heading to the cathedral as in previous years, will head to Muelle 2. At 10am, the image of the Virgin will embark on a two-hour boat journey from the port to the Playa La Malagueta, after which, it will move to the cathedral for an afternoon mass, before returning to El Perchel in the evening.

Another popular event is La Feria del Carmen in La Carihuela (Torremolinos), held from Saturday until Tuesday. This small feria, held in the Plaza del Remo, commemorates the fishing disaster of 1949, when almost every family in the village lost a relation. The procession leaves the Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen on Tuesday at 7pm.

The Feria de los Boliches is also held in honour of the Virgen del Carmen and this traditional celebration takes place from Saturday 13 until Tuesday 16 July.