The oldest horse race in Spain, run the length of a famous beach in Andalucía, seeks Unesco cultural heritage status

The oldest horse race in Spain, run the length of a famous beach in Andalucía, seeks Unesco cultural heritage status

This year marks the 179th running of these historic equestrian races along the shoreline of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz province, an event which has to be perfectly timed to coincide with the low sea tides

La Voz


Monday, 10 June 2024, 11:07


The local council in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz province has joined the campaign for its horse racing event to be declared as being of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. It has added a letter of support to the application to the world body being prepared by Sanlúcar's Royal Society of Horseracing. The letter has been formally signed by mayor Carmen Álvarez (Izquierda Unida political party).

As such, the town hall is adding its considerable weight to the support already gathering for the initiative led by the aforementioned horse racing society (Real Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar). All are pushing for this "extraordinary" event to be successful in this application. The races take place every year on Bonanza beach split over two rounds lasting several days apiece in August. Everyone wants it to become part of "such an important international list of artistic, festive and social activities."

In the letter issued by Álvarez, it mentioned that, way back in June 2016 at a full meeting of the council, all the municipal groups supported a proposal to declare these horse races as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a list which includes customs that are "as universally recognised and at the same time so unique to us as flamenco."

Carmen Álvarez explained that "cultural heritage is not limited to monuments and collections of objects", but that it also includes "traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants." In this respect, she pointed out that "this is what the horse races on the beach represent for Sanlúcar, which, with their centuries-long history, have united several generations of people from Sanlúcar around this event that is so much our own."

This year, 2024, marks the 179th year of the horse races on the beaches of Sanlúcar, an event which has also been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest since 1997. This event on the equestrian calendar will be divided into two rounds of racing lasting three days apiece, all in the month of August. Therefore, the first round of evening races will take place on the 14th, 16th and 17th of August and the second on the 28th, 29th and 30th.

As it is a natural racecourse, the approved dates are as always based on the tidal calendar, as race days have to coincide with a good low tide so that the horses can compete with sufficient shore and track on the beach.

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