If you have been to Altea, you may have noticed that there always seems to be festivities or some sort of a festival going on. Throughout the year, each neighborhood in Altea honors its patron. The Fiesta of San Pedro and Virgen del Carmen is July 16th in Altea.
In February are the Midyear (Mig Any) of Moors and Christians in honour of San Blas and the Cristo de la Salud in Altea la Vella. In February there is also a pork festival. In May there is a story telling festival. In June, the festivities in honour of the Holy Trinity, San Antonio and San Juan. In July, San Pedro and the Virgin of Carmen, San Jaime and Santa Ana in Altea la Vella. August begins with the feast of San Roque, San Lorenzo, San Isidro and San Luis. In September, the St. Thomas and, to cap the end of the summer, the fourth weekend in September, the festivity in honour of "Cristo del Sagrario" accompanied by the Moors and Christians. In December, Altea celebrates the feast of Santa Barbara and La Purisima in Altea la Vella.
San Pedro and Virgen del Carmen is one of the most important fiestas celebrated along the coast of Spain. During mid July fiestas are held to honor Virgen del Carmen, the Patron Saint of fisherman and the sea. In municipalities with long maritime traditions, the festival has been important in order to ask for protection and luck on the perilous Mediterranean sea as well as commemorate those who never returned back home. Particular importance of the fiesta is for people whose life is connected with the sea. Since ancient times, all the fishermen and sailors of Spain have postponed business for several days to honor the day of their saint, who was also called the Queen of the Seas. According to legend, Virgen del Carmen protects the coastal waters, makes them clean and safe.
The origins of the festival for the Virgen del Carmen is located in the former Carmelite Order, founded in the thirteenth century and later spread throughout Europe.
In 1609 the church itself decided to dedicate the 16th July to its patron saint, the Virgen del Carmen. In 1901 Virgen del Carmen declared the patron saint of the Spanish Navy and was extended to protect all types of marine-related groups such as fishermen's organizations, which, in fact, is now responsible for organizing the celebrations in the coastal population.
In Altea San Pedro and Virgen del Carmen is celebrated from July 11 to July 14, 2097 at the seafront promenade. In addition to the religious celebrations there will be games and fun activities such as competitions, races, concerts and spectacular fireworks sent up from the shore as well as from boats and rafts on the sea.
Among the highlights is a colorful maritime procession carrying Virgin del Carmen's image. The image is placed onto a flower adorned throne and carried by a group of men through "maritime neighborhoods" and finally the entire procession, including the virgin image, is taken out to sea by a boat decorated with ribbons and flowers, followed by a lot of small boats. The sea parade is accompanied by the launching of flowers and candles on the water, and ends with a festive fireworks display. It is an emotional procession in which it is made an "offer" of flowers and laurel wreaths that are thrown into the water in memory of those who have died at sea and while singing the hymn "Salve Marinera", which is also used in the Easter processions. There is also lit candles floating in the water. This starts in front of hostal San Miguel, down on the boardwalk, next to the harbor July 16th at 19:30h, followed by a Large Fireworks Display at 23:00h.
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