Coronavirus crisis throws the Costa's summer cultural calendar into turmoil

Organisers of Starlite are optimistic that the show will go on.
Organisers of Starlite are optimistic that the show will go on. / SUR
  • Some town halls hope to go ahead with events that are scheduled for late summer and autumn, although with capacity restrictions

As Malaga and the Costa del Sol looks forward to entering phase two of the lockdown on Monday, there is an optimistic feeling that life will slowly return to some sort of normality. This is a time of year when many town halls are preparing for their annual ferias, romerías and festivals, while promoters and entertainment venues are gearing up to host concerts and live entertainment.

Although town halls are showing optimism about the future, some have already been forced to cancel events because of the state of alarm; others are hoping to go ahead with celebrations that are scheduled for late summer and autumn, although with strict capacity restrictions.

Malaga city hall has announced that this year's feria is for now still due to take place from 15 to 22 August, providing the state of alarm has been lifted and there is no chance of putting the public's safety at risk. The council said that "a final decision would be taken at the end of July".

Torremolinos town hall is also hopeful that its cultural agenda can return in the near future. The San Juan celebrations in June have been postponed (as in all resorts along the coast) but the cultural department is keeping an open mind about the Romería and Feria de San Miguel in September.

Councillor for Culture David Tejeiro told SUR in English, "Providing Torremolinos meets all the correct standards and we can ensure health and safety for our visitors, some events like the romería and feria will probably take place. It is difficult to say for sure, because we need to wait to see what happens next."

However, the councillor hinted that, like many town halls in the province, "finance could also be a problem".

The coronavirus pandemic has increased councils' costs, while income has been lost, so some town halls could struggle to find funds to finance events.

Benalmádena is one town that had no option other than to cancel this year's feria, which is usually held in June. Mayor Víctor Navas said, "It is with deep regret that the pandemic has forced us to break with tradition and suspend the Feria de San Juan this year."

Many concerts scheduled for the popular Marenostrom music festival in Fuengirola have been cancelled or postponed, but the town hall is hopeful that the Feria del Rosario will be able to go ahead in October. Like all councils, Fuengirola is currently looking at ways to avoid potential health hazards during large-scale events.

Organisers of the Starlite Festival in Marbella, one of the year's most anticipated musical events, issued a statement earlier this month saying that they were "doing everything in their power" to make sure this year's festival will take place. Pointing out that their main priority is the wellbeing of the audience, staff and performers, they said they will adhere to "all recommendations and protocol issued by the authorities".

Although tickets are currently on sale for all shows, there is a possibility that some of the events in early July might have to be cancelled.

Financial concerns

One of the main concerns for promoters is the financial implications caused by limited capacity and the new regulations that will be enforced at outdoor events. BigM promotions, one of the coast's main concert and event organisers, is one of many that is working alongside town halls to find ways to overcome the problems they face. The company has been forced to cancel numerous events and founder Martyn Wood declared that he was "still calculating whether it will be worth trying to organise anything this summer".

"Now we are having to work with a much smaller budget and a much-reduced capacity. We would have to use extra guards to control entry, and there would be extra health and safety measures. The overall expense to put on an event is now higher with these extra measures and the number of tickets that can be sold are less. This means that ticket prices must be higher," he explained.