Cries of "Viva La Virgen del Rosario" and "Viva la patrona de Fuengirola" rang out through the streets of the town last Sunday as thousands of people dressed in typical 'rociero' attire and dazzling flamenco-style dresses took part in the long-awaited return of the 'romería' in honour of Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
The festive pilgrimage, which was last held in 2019, pays homage to Our Lady of the Rosary, the town's patron, and locals turned out to admire the gaily decorated Gypsy-style caravans and floats and the elegant Andalusian horses that accompanied the iconic image.
The event began at the parish church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, where a mass was held, after which the procession trundled off on its three-hour journey to Parque El Esparragal in the neighbouring municipality of Mijas.
Here, worshippers and revellers, many of whom arrived with a plentiful supply of beverages and picnics, enjoyed an afternoon of dancing 'sevillanas' and singing traditional flamenco songs and 'cantes rocieros'.
One thing they all had in common was the delight at being able to celebrate their romería once again, an event the town's mayor, Ana Mula, described as "a great day for all residents of Fuengirola and its visitors".
For the first time, the bars located in the park were run by two local charities: the Spanish cancer association (AECC) and the association for families of those with Alzheimer's (AFA), while 36 kilos of rice was used to make a huge paella for more than 400 people.
The day passed without any reports of serious incidents, which, according to the town hall, was due to the "excellent" services of the Local Police and Guardia Civil from both Fuengirola and Mijas, along with the assistance of the emergency and civil protection services.
Councillor for Fiestas, Isabel Moreno, said, "Without their efforts, none of this would have been possible."
Sunday's romería was just a prelude to the town's Feria del Rosario on the fairground. Municipal workers and the associations that manage the "casetas" had four days to decorate the area with thousands of lights and colourful bunting in time for the six-day fair, which got going yesterday (Thursday) and continues until Wednesday 12 October.
The job of officially opening the fair on Thursday night, during a ceremony in the Palacio de la Paz, was given this year to local artist Fran Terrén. This marked the start six days of partying in true Andalusian style in the numerous casetas on the fairground.
Today (Friday), the town centre will witness the beginning of the daytime celebrations, when Andalusian stallions and magnificent carriages are paraded around the streets. Meanwhile locals and visitors, dressed in traditional attire, enjoy local gastronomy and dance in the streets and elegantly decorated bars and taverns.
Along with nightly performances in the municipal auditorium at 10pm by some of Spain's top groups and singers, including Manuel Lombo and La Oreja de Van Gogh, this fair offers equestrian activities - such as the colourful horse and carriage parade - bullfights, and the Juan de la Loma - El Jabegote Flamenco Festival, which takes place on Wednesday 12 October and features the celebrated singer José Mercé.