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Water parks are among the attractions enjoyed by both tourists and residents. SUR
Malaga, a dominant force on Europe's culture and leisure scene
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Malaga, a dominant force on Europe's culture and leisure scene

Culture & Leisure ·

As well as being a place steeped in history and heritage, with a plethora of museums and exhibitions, Malaga offers the thrill of water parks and festivals for everyone to enjoy

Myrto Kaltsidou

Malaga

Monday, 3 June 2024

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As well as attracting millions of visitors every year who come to soak up the sun and sensational mountainous landscapes, Malaga province has long been known as a benchmark on the European cultural and leisure scene, making it equally ideal for cultural enthusiasts to get involved in the endless range of exhibitions, attractions and marvellous foodie experiences on offer.

Water parks

The province’s flourishing leisure scene is partly due to the fact that it caters to people of all ages. For example, Malaga boasts some of Spain’s best water parks, an essential part of the bustling summer season. The three main ones include Aqualand Torremolinos, the biggest and most popular water park on the Costa del Sol, which is home to a universe of different water slides; Aquamijas in Las Lagunas, which has just introduced a new children’s area this year; and Aquavelis, located just outside of Torre del Mar in Véléz-Málaga. This is a well-established water park and a firm favourite among many of Malaga’s residents.

Zoos and gardens

Malaga’s cultural scene is further enriched by the Bioparc Fuengirola, a zoo that stands out for its firm commitment to nature and species conservation. Not only does it reproduce the living conditions of more than 130 species inhabiting the jungles of Africa, Asia and the Indo-Pacific islands, but it also takes visitors along a unique zoo immersion experience. The Bioparc has allocated more than 28,000 euros to biodiversity conversation projects around the world.

Selwo Aventura in Estepona is both a prominent zoo and theme park: as well as encountering lions, giraffes and hyenas, visitors can take part in an extensive programme of activities, including the 116-metre-long Ziwa zipline, in addition to attending talks about the various species that reside there. The park even offers environmental education summer camps for children.

Moreover, La Concepción botanical garden, known as the jewel of Malaga, was first created in 1850 and is one of the most beautiful and significant of its kind in Spain and Europe, consisting of more than 25,000 species of plants and trees.

Festivals and concerts

The province’s music scene is thriving now more than ever, with several concerts and festivals taking place all year round, particularly during the summer season. The Starlite festival in Marbella, for example, is one of the most important annual events on the entertainment calendar in Spain. Taking place over June, July and August, this festival will feature concerts by the likes of Camilo, Aitana, Take That and Ricky Martin, among others, who will perform for a live audience of 15,000 people. The event will create around 450 jobs this year and will be broadcast in 60 countries across many major platforms and TV networks, with millions tuning in to catch their favourite tunes.

Marenostrum Fuengirola, which generated over 30 million euros in 2023, has already kicked off the concert season with its ninth edition that runs until 7 September, and will feature artists such as Macklemore, Maluma, Niña Pastori and Queens of the Stone Age, among others. It has announced the creation of more than 80 jobs for this year’s event.

Malaga is also a hub for cinephiles, as it holds its own annual film festival, which took place in March this year. Focusing on Spanish-language cinema, the 2024 festival included some 246 screenings - more than any of its previous editions.

Museums and exhibitions

It is no wonder that Malaga, a place steeped in heritage and history, is known as the ‘city of museums’, and features a plethora of permanent and temporary exhibitions for those who want to learn more about the province’s cultural importance.

Art lovers can visit the Museo Picasso Malaga, where they will explore Picasso’s life and artistic legacy through collections that highlight his creative genius; the Picasso Birthplace Museum (El Museo Casa Natal Picasso), with over 7,000 works of art by some 200 artists; the Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga, with a collection of Spanish and Andalusian paintings from the 19th century; the Museo de Malaga, an archeological and historical museum that houses over 17,000 exhibits; the Centre of Contemporary Art Malaga (CAC), a visual art gallery with works from the 20th and 21st centuries; and, the Centre Pompidou, which exhibits two or three themed or monographic temporary exhibitions each year, among many others.

Wine lovers can explore the Museo del Vino Málaga (Malaga Wine Museum), which occupies an exhibition and interpretation area, as well as a tasting hall and shop, where visitors can buy the most delicious local wines.

Video game enthusiasts can discover the city through the Malaga Videogame Museum (OXO), which presents the history of video games and offers the opportunity to play with all types of consoles, from the most classic to the most current.

Outside of the city, people can also find worthwhile artistic spaces, such as the Museo del Bandolero (Bandit Museum) in Ronda, considered to be one of the most exhaustive in Spain, as well as the Old Toy Museum (Expo-Sala de Juguetes Antiguos) in the village centre of Alfarnate, which houses a collection of antique toys unique to Andalucía, among others.

A culinary destination

It is no secret that Malaga is home to countless culinary establishments that offer a delectable array of local, national and international dishes to suit all tastes.

For one, the province boasts several Michelin star restaurants which offer the finest dining experiences: José Carlos García (Malaga), Messina (Marbella), El Lago (Marbella), Nintai (Marbella), Sollo (Fuengirola), Kaleja (Malaga), Bardal (Ronda), and Skina (Marbella).

In fact, regarding Malaga (including the Costa del Sol) as the leading Andalusian province in terms of company creation in 2023, its “food and beverage services” were responsible for 10% of the new companies created, that is, 753 new businesses.

The province is also packed with year-round foodie events such as the Feria Gastronómica de la Serranía de Ronda in Benarrabá, which also holds a jamón slicing competition; the Moliendo de Riogordo festival, which is olive oil themed; the Fiesta de la Sopa de los Siete Ramales, which celebrates a longstanding soup recipe that contains just seven ingredients; the Hinojá de Algatocín festival in the Valle del Genal, based on the fennel, and which includes a competition and tastings of dishes using the vegetable; and, cheese fairs in Torre del Mar and Álora, among many other gastronomical events. The local Sabor a Málaga collective brand regular tours the province with fairs to showcases local producers.

As far as leisure is concerned, Malaga province has a wide range of holiday resorts and hotels, both on the coast and in beautiful inland areas, which provide the perfect place to escape the hubbub of everyday life by relaxing by the pool and enjoying the hospitality.

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