Tag Archives: Fiestas

Christmas Lights and Shop Windows in Ronda

The 4th of December was the day the Christmas lights went on in Ronda, heralding the start of the Christmas holiday season, which in Spain extends through to the 6th January.

Christmas in Spain is unlike English speaking countries. Here the 25th of December is a religious holiday, whilst the 5th of January, known as the three kings day, is the important day for giving gifts. Of course Hollywood’s influence means this is becoming muddled and children in Spain often get presents on the 25th and 5th.

Switching on the Christmas lights is an important occasion, made even more special as this is a long weekend celebrating two holidays, Constitution Day on the 6th, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th.

The streets of Ronda were filled with people coming out to see this years lights, and to mix and mingle with friends in coffee shops, start the Christmas present buying spree, and enjoy the fresh evening air before the cold of winter really hits us.

The excitement was contagious, children were running and playing, calling to each other, staring with wild eyes in the windows of the shops with nativity scenes or Santa decorations, and Rondeños of all ages couldn’t contain themselves.

Several of the churches held special evening Mass services, so many in Ronda were wearing their Sunday best, though many more weren’t, being content to simply walk and enjoy the evening with friends.

The Christmas lights run the length of Carrera Espinel, Calle Sevilla, Virgen de la Paz, Calle Armiñan, Avenida de Málaga, Avenida de Martinez Astein, and are also in Plaza Socorro. The open air nativity is in the bandstand in Plaza Socorro.

While walking down La Bola taking the photos you see below, our friendly local busker was dressed as Santa playing Christmas songs on his accordion while singing “Merry Christmas” over and over again. We wondered if he knew the words and was just singing what he did know. Sadly the battery on the camera went flat and I wasn’t able to capture his Christmas spirit.

ronda-christmas-lights

Damas Goyesca of Ronda

Since the inception of the Corrida Goyesca in Ronda’s September fair in 1954, the ladies of Ronda have been the official representatives of the city, and welcoming committee for visiting dignitaries.

The role is exceptionally demanding, not only from the responsibility of the role, but also from the demanding schedule of training, and gown fittings before the build up to the week’s festivities.

So exceptionally popular have been the Dames Goyesca, that in 2009, a bronze statue of a Goyesca lady was inaugurated in Alameda park, directly across from the statue of Pedro Romero, Ronda’s most famous bullfighter.

Every year a president of the Dames Goyesca is chosen, usually she is a woman well respected in Ronda, someone who has earned the affection of the people of Ronda, and who is held up as a model of womanhood for others to emulate.

At the same time, fourteen younger Rondeñas are picked to support the president in her duties, typically the younger Dames Goyesca will be in their teens, and of course chosen for their beauty, as well as their grace.

The Goyesca Ladies

Every year in Ronda several of the town’s ladies are chosen to be the Dames Goyescas, and represent the ladies seen in some of Francisco de Goya’s paintings of bullfighting and pageantry from the late 18th century. Many of Goya’s paintings were in fact commissioned by a tapestry workshop in Madrid, the aim being to print the paintings on fabric.

When Goya painted his portraits of nobility, the fashion of the day was for colourful fabrics, and matching accessories such as shoes, fans, hairpieces etc. The gowns worn by Ronda’s Dames Goyesca are not exact copies of those seen in Goya’s paintings, instead they are designed to reflect the matador designs seen in Goya’s paintings of Pedro Romero, so can be said to be complimentary rather than historically correct.

Some art historians argue Goya’s paintings of the Duchess of Alba are the inspiration for the gowns worn by the Dames Goyesca, and to a lesser extent this might be true, in that many of the simpler gowns worn by the Dames Goyesca are very reminiscent. The more complex designs however have been developed in the 20th century in response to perceived fashions of the 18th century, and as such are even more stunning and beautiful than they would have been.

Each outfit can cost many thousands of Euros, everything is custom made to suit the lady, right down to handmade shoes and lace shawls. In addition, each Goyesca lady usually has another gown for less formal occasions, and perhaps a third for specific medal ceremonies.

Pedro Romero Feria Parade 2009

The Pedro Romero Feria in Ronda is the biggest carnival event in Ronda’s social calendar, a week of partying, of live shows, of fairground rides and attractions, and of course culminating in the Corrida Goyesca, the only bullfight to occur in Ronda’s famous Plaza de Toros.

Wednesday the 2nd of September 2009 was a special day, this was the day of the feria parade, a 3 hour extravaganza that departed from Alameda and the Plaza de Toros, and then snaked it’s way up La Bola, onto Avenida de Málaga, before turning down into the fair grounds near the hospital.

Carnival atmosphere reigned in Ronda, well before the parade began balloon sellers were offering large silver balloons in the shape of animals, aeroplanes and other things for 5€, and woe betide any child who let go, the balloon quickly ascended, and reached the heavens, never to be seen again.

2009 was my first year seeing the parade, though I’ve seen other parades in bigger cities in the UK, Germany, the USA, but little Ronda put on a show worthy of the biggest of cities. One can only speculate at the amount of money invested in giving Rondeños such a spectacle, but it was worth it. Despite the gloomy economy, on parade day everyone wore a smile.

Just as the sun set over Ronda the parade reached Avenida de Málaga, a great shout rang around the crowd who had been waiting for an hour or more, and then the first sign that something was happening. The Policia Local quickly cleared the road of balloon and sweet sellers, and leading the parade, a group of riders on horseback, looking resplendent in period costume from the late 18th century.

Corrida Goyesca
It wasn’t long till the great big animals, Tigger the Tiger, and his Disney friends appeared along with 100 children in colourful outfits, then dancers, acrobats, larger than life insects that attacked the crowd, Ronda’s brass bands, and too many other floats to mention.

At last, the moment everyone had been waiting the longest for, the Goyesca Ladies on their float that looked like the Palace of Versaille on wheels, the President atop her thrown, and the other dames waving from balconies below her.

What a parade! Incredible effort must have been expended, and all this in a small town in Southern Spain. 2010 will be a must see parade, and if you have the chance to book a hotel room in anticipation of being in Ronda for the feria, do it now, there is not time to waste.