Fiestas and Festivals in Ontinyent. Ontinyent Tourist Information
It is the tradition of festivals and fiestas which really makes Ontinyent special. Most months one parish or another in the City will celebrate their Saints Day, with street parties, fireworks and music. And the whole City takes to the streets for the big events.
Cavalcade of Kings
Ontinyent´s annual festival calendar generally begins on the 5th, which is when the three kings (from the nativity) visit the city to leave presents for the children. On the 4th, the association of Friends of the Kings organises a “grotto” at the ermita Santa Anna, where the local children have their last opportunity to deliver their letters to the king´s page.
Sant Antoni Abat – 17 de Enero / 17 January
Three bonfires are built in the streets with the largest being in the Plaza del Barranquet. All of the bonfires are lit after the traditional blessing of the animals. After this, hundreds of lamps are lit and a procession makes its way around the town. A market is also held where local products can be bought and the visitor can get ready for a real treat; to the rhythm of pipes and drums, numerous local dance groups perform traditional dances. A must is the “Correfoc”, a relatively new tradition to this area, introduced in the 80´s, it consists of jumping over the glowing embers of the bonfires.
February begins with the Candelària: According to an old saying, “If it´s sunny, summer´s around the corner, if it´s wet, winter won´t be long in going!” This day marks winter´s halfway point and the churches give out little candles or candeletes (not surprisingly!). Up until quite recently Sant Blai was also celebrated on the 3rd, who was said to protect the believer from sore throats!
Carnestoltes / Carnival
February is also the time of year when “Carnestoltes” is celebrated. There are processions where the participants march wearing hoods and masks and there have also been attempts in several parishes to introduce flour fights (a tradition here) although they only seem to have become popular with students. Schools also put on plays based on the old story of the “Case Against the Carnival King” which tells the story of a court who wanted to try the Carnival King for public disorder (an irreverant and overtly critical story) and processions through the streets that end on Friday with a burning of the carnival effigies.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and is when the faithful go to church to be reminded that we come from ash and to ash we return. The strange figure of the La Vella Quaresma is an old lady dressed in mourning, loaded down with fish and vegetables and, most strangely of all, with seven feet. The image is traditionally hung in windows and is used like an advent calendar. Every Saturday in Lent a foot is torn off and at the last foot, it´s Lent, which is when meat can be eaten again. Then the calendar is burnt to bring good luck.
Sant Josep (St. Joseph) is celebrated on the 19th, and in the parish that bears his name the children have games and activities with play back concerts before they burn the “Falla” which is an irreverantly designed bonfire depicting, via caricatures, news events or famous people. There are also traditional dances.
Semana Santa / Easter Week / Holy Week
The first Sunday after the first full moon of spring is when Floral Easter is celebrated and the days preceding this are known as Setmana Santa (Holy Week). The religious acts organised on the occasion of Easter Week take a special relevancy in Ontinyent for the solemnity and the fervour with which the inhabitants live through each of the processions, Masses or benedictions that are celebrated. The most relevant processions are the Encuentro Doloroso and the Santo Entierro, which are celebrated on Holy Friday. The very emotive Procesión del Silencio is held at night in the Medieval neighbourhood, La Vila, which is illuminated only by the light of candles and processional torches. The most relevant processions are the Encuentro Doloroso and the Santo Entierro, which are celebrated on Holy Friday. The very emotive Procesión del Silencio is held at night in the Medieval neighbourhood, La Vila, which is illuminated only by the light of candles and processional torches.
On Thursday there is a silent procession through the streets of the Vila. The participants are masked and hold candles and are accompanied by characters from the Bible.
On Friday morning, various processions converge on the Plaza Mayor and at midday there is a reenactment of the meeting between the “The Nazarene and La Dolorosa” and in the afternoon there is a procession to commemorate the holy burial and sweets are given out to the public.
On Saturday night, after supper, the faithful go to the Plaza de la Vila where they burn their images of the Quaresma and parade through the streets of the Vila to the sound of pipes and drums and bang metal objects together. These are later left at the doors of the Ayuntamiento and the traditional song of the resurrection is sung. (The second half of which was originally sung by children, but this tradition has now been lost).
On Easter Sunday, 2006 a lost tradition was recovered when the reenactment of the meeting between the lamb of Jesus and the mother of God was celebrated outside the Ayuntamiento. Afterwards there was a firework display.
May begins with the blessing of the fields on the day of the Holy Cross (3rd). Some schools make crosses of flowers which is actually a tradition from the city of Valencia. May is also the time when children´s first communions and silver and gold wedding anniversaries are celebrated and in the parish of Santa Maria the figure of the Immaculate Conception is paraded. At the end of the month the figure is returned to its chapel and blessed
On the 2nd, Saint Rita is celebrated and the Housewives´ Association presents bouquets of roses to the church of Sant Carles which are subsequently distributed amongst the public. The townspeople stick envelopes containing their photos to the image of Saint Rita.
The Day of the Corpus is celebrated in Ontinyent with the celebration of different religious acts such as the solemn Mass, El volteo de las campanasa “roll over” of the church bells and the procession. One of the most traditional acts kept by the city is the popular parade of Gegants i cabets. Standing out is the colour and the genuine traditional music of the processional dances, originating from the XVIII century: Gegants, Cabets, Arquets, Cavallets and Veta.
Giants and Big-heads / Cabets i Gegants
Another of the most impressive fiestas are the Giants and Big-heads that they go out twice a year to delight young and old. They perform their dances, usually before the procession of the Corpus Christi, in June.
The nearest weekend to the 24th is when the parish of Sant Rafael organises the Nit de Sant Joan. A bonfire is burned and there is a street party with hand held fireworks. The fiesta was originally held in the Plaza Santo Domingo where, until recently there was a bonfire, dancing and stalls. These traditions are still kept alive in the city.
Fiesta of the Cúgol
One of the oldest and most dearly held traditions in Ontinyent is the Fiesta of the Cugol one of the few harvest festivals in Valencia. The word cugol refers to the dried garlic roots that are stored in the ground until their collection. The service is held in the Hermitage el Pla and features dancing and stalls with theatre performances .
Sant Pere de Verona
Since the 90´s the Vila has celebrated San Pedro de Verona day, San Pedro was one of the original patron saints of Ontinyent and the celebration takes place over one of the last weekends in June. Of particular interest is the candle-lit procession with dancing and music between the plaza San Roque and San Pedro.
Lorry drivers celebrate the day of Saint Christopher on the Saturday nearest to the 10th when lorries are blessed during a procession past a figure of the saint. The celebration ends with a firework display.
Romeria to Sant Esteve
The penultimate Saturday of July is dedicated to Saint Stephen, when followers have already presented the queen of the fiestas and her court of honour at a supper. A bonfire is lit in the parish of San Rafael in memory of the now defunct “falla” which used to be lit at San Esteve. Nowadays, the “Light of Saint Stephen” is an electric display at the hermitage. There also used to be a procession which passed through most of the city.
Fiestas de Moros y Cristianos – 24 de Agosto / Moors and Christians August 24
Ontinyent celebrates its Moors and Christians Festivals each year towards the end of the month of August. Since the year 1860, the city has been commemorating the Christian conquest of the town founded by Jaime I in the c.XIII and the battles against the Moorish troops. These Festivals, which have been declared to be of Tourist Interest, are celebrated in honour of the Most Holy Christ in Agony, religious symbol of great devotion. Each month of August, the “morenet” (as it is popularly known) is brought down from the chapel of Santa Ana to the church of San Carlos in one of the most significant and surely the most authentic ceremonies of the festivities: “La Baixà”.
The Moorish and Christian ranks advance through the streets of the city to the sound of the kettledrums and flutes, dressed up in very beautiful and colourful costumes, representing the entry of the troops into the city. This ceremony and the one referred to as the Ambassadors are the most massively attended of the week-long festival. More than 6,000 people participate in the Entry, including participants, musical bands and choreography groups.
The ceremony of the Ambassadors signifies the dramatization of the history of the city with the mock battle between the ambassadors of the two sides, at the foot of the castle, symbol of the city of Ontinyent.
Squares, ballets, trappings, horses, camels, dromedaries … all accompanied by brass bands and that will add nearly 10,000 people take to the streets of Ontinyent
Pujada del Crist
September begins with a procession which officially closes Moors and Christians when the figure of christ is returned to Santa Anna and a final firework display ends the festivities
Romeria d’Agres / Pilgrimage to Agres
For several centuries, Ontinyent has honoured a virgin from Agres who is said to have saved the population from a dreadful plague in 1600. This devotion is expressed nowadays by a walk from Ontinyent to Agres which, although originally formal and solemn, has now lost all protocol and become simply a long walk over the mountains to Agres, ending in lunch at one of the restaurants there. After the arrival of the railway to Agres a hundred years ago, this pilgrimage became even more popular, added to this the modern trends towards health and fitness plus a wish to keep old traditions alive also helps swell the numbers.
Fiesta del Camí dels Carros
The “Festa del Camí dels Carros” began during the mid 19th century. In the old Albarrana tower there was a clock face which depicted the Mother of God of Agres and the shepherd who discovered her and whose arm she cured. More recently a new gegant has been created, Gaspar Tomás in memory of that shepherd in Agres
Fiesta del barri de Sant Rafael
Since 1964, the parish of Sant Rafael celebrates a festival dedicated to the archangel of the same name. It is normally celebrated on two weekends around the 29th of September. The first of these weekends is dedicated to sports and the naming of the Queen of the Festival.
The celebration begins on the Friday with a concert and on the Saturday there is a children´s fiesta. In the evening there is an informal celebration which features an entertaining personnage called the Cuc and later on there is dancing. Sunday begins with a procession and mass with a flower festival, followed by fireworks.
Festa del barri del Llombo
October begins with the last few days of Sant Rafael’s festival and then on the 9th is when the parish of el Llombo holds its celebrations.
Day of Valencia
October 9th. Regional Fiesta in the COmmunidad Valencia
Parade of the Gigants and Cabets
The 9th is also celebrated officially by the town hall in which some parishes hold lunches and every four years since 1994 there has been a special parade of the Gigants and Cabets as a way of saying thank you to the people of Ontinyent for the support they have shown to the group over the years.
Halloween and All Souls Day
November and Halloween come hand-in-hand. On the 1st is the traditional visit to the cemetary where families tend the graves of loved ones and is the day when “Fogassa” a type of cake decorated with seeds, nuts and almonds is traditionally eaten. A trip to Cocentaina fair is also popular.
The three musical bands in the city put on a concert, dedicated to the patron saint of music, Saint Cecilia, where the band members try to outdo eachother with their prowess.
La Fira – 18 de Noviembre / The Fair – November 18
On the 3rd Monday of the month is fair day in Ontinyent. The fair is known as the local festivity Ontinyente enjoyed in November. Once was an agricultural fair, but its evolution has led it to be fair based on attractions and games booths or huts. The Fair is held the weekend of the third Sunday of November, from Saturday to Monday, this is one of the two local holidays, but for a few weeks before and some after the attractions are located on the campus qualified to do so.
The bull run
Without the bull run, Ontinyent wouldn´t be the same. Historically, there were various bull runs which took many different forms, but it is the Puríssima run which has lasted down through the centuries in its original form of a bull, with a long cord tied to its harness, running through the streets, driving the crowd before it. The run takes place in the old part of the city below the Vila and across the old bridge and is one of the most important events in the Ontinyent calendar. Whether you decide to run or join the crowds at the ongoing party in the numerous bars which pack the old part of town, it mustn´t be missed.
On the Friday previous in the Plaza Mayor, at the improvised coral is where the “Embolada” takes place. This is when the bull has its horns covered with balls of cotton to avoid the worst of the injuries. On the Saturday morning there is a baby bull run for the youngest fans and then after a traditional lunch of “Cassola d´arròs al forn” which is oven baked rice, the runs commence and the fun begins!
La Purisima – 8 de Diciembre / December 8
With a long calendar of acts between November and December, the La Purísima festivities have a tradition that has been kept from the XVII century. The festivities are proceeded by the Heralds of the Virgen de Plata, els Angelets, personified by children voces blancas, upon floats, which cross the principal streets announcing the proximity of the festivities. The Cant dels Angelets is one of the treasures of old Valencian music that dates back to 1662.
One of the most popular acts is the Bou en corda, celebrated the weekend before the main holiday La Purísima. Also, with a marked popular flavour, there are the traditional dances, the Gegants, Cabets, Arquets, Cavallets and Veta, which are danced in the streets of the town on the eve of the main formalities.
The Immaculate Conception
On the Sunday morning there is a floral offering to the image of the Immaculate Conception when all the various associations and groups represented in the city who wish to present a bouquet may do so.
The 7th and 8th are still the most important festivals in Ontinyent, when the city pays homage to the patron saint. This has taken place since 1642 and is a highly solemn event. On the evening of the 7th, is the biggest and most important procession of the Gigants and Cabets through the streets of the Vila. Early on the morning of the 8th the bell bearing her name is rung, and there follows a day full of religious services, masses and processions, finishing with dances and fireworks.
Christmas / Navidad
Traditional mass, carols, food and family get togethers mark the season. Since 1999, an almost forgotten ancient traditional hymn has made a comeback known as “The Cant de la Sibil.la” it is performed by the group Menestrils
Dia dels Innocents
The year finishes (at least in terms of traditions) in Ontinyent on the 28th, which is the Dia dels Innocents (similar to the English April Fool’s day).
L’Home dels Nassos
On the 31st there is a tradition known as L’Home dels Nassos (The Nose Man?!) who claims to have as many noses as there are days in the year, strange but apparently true. Then it only remains to kick off your shoes and get some sleep because on the 4th those 3 Kings from the Nativity are back to start everything off again for another year