(The fun) Romería de San Juan 2023

The Romería de San Juan (St. John’s procession) is the yearly event that opens the Feria de Benalmádena. In 2023 the Romería happened on June 18, and the Feria will happen between 24 and 29 of June. Till then, there will be a few religious events dedicated to San Juan in churches around Benalmádena.

Now, I thought it was going to be a slow, respectful, religious event, so I dressed accordingly, in a sober black coat (but a light one, because it’s hot even when it rains). Boy, I was wrong. A procession done the Spanish way, I learnt today, is an event that involves peoples of all ages, mixes the traditional drum and guitar with speakers, flamenco with religious hymns and bulls and horses with beer. It’s fun and surprisingly safe; super colorful and full of joy even on a rainy day like the one that this happened to be.  

The route of the Romería de San Juan

Now, this information was hard to find. I knew the procession was going to happen “in the streets of Benalmádena”, but had no idea where from, through or to. Until half an hour before the event I found this information in one of the 8.719 Facebook groups about the Costa del Sol that I follow:

romeria de San Juan Route
Route of the Romeria de San Juan 2023

Thank you Benalmadena Costa del Sol group, you made my day! On the left: The full route of the Romería de San Juan 2023; on the right, the same route on Benalmádena’s map, by Mama Málaga

The route itself was a hint of what was to come: it is slightly downhill, therefore easy to follow and inclusive. This route indicates not a pilgrimage, but a fun, easy flowing celebration. I believe it is the same route every year, therefore keep it!

The Romería de San Juan

So I run. I met the Romería de San Juan when it was just entering Calle Flores. Check our encounter below:

Police precedes and  follows the procession all the way, securing the path and the safety of the people. The Romería de San Juan is composed by the several bull-pulled carriages. The main one is the first, shown in the video above, carrying San Juan’s statue. It is followed by several others, that belong to different associations present in Benalmádena or to commercial entities that sponsor a carriage for publicity. Each carriage is followed by several people, partying (I mean, praying?) more and more as the romería proceeds.

In the different carriages there are sound speakers and refreshments for the followers, from what I could see.

The people

Romeria de San Juan 2023 - colorful dresses
Romeria de San Juan 2023 - enjoying the procession
Romeria de San Juan 2023 -the next generation

Among the things that stood out where the pride of the people following the Romería de San Juan. They were happy to be there, enjoying themselves in typical clothes and singing with enthusiasm. You could see their pride in being there.

The carriages

Romeria de San Juan 2023 - The main carriage
Romeria de San Juan 2023
Romeria de San Juan 2023

Also impressive was the cleanliness and order of the whole event. I was scared the first time I saw a bull up-close – it is huge! – but those bulls were very well behaved.

The middle

Now it is a party! As the event proceeds, more tourists gather to watch, participate and follow, while the participants continue singing with enthusiasm. Everybody is welcome.

More images

The end

The procession ends at the Recinto Ferial, the main location of the soon to come Feria de Benalmádena. The carriages move into the different structures that are already up for the upcoming Feria; there, the people say their farewells to their peers and enjoy the Recinto Ferial, which already has a few attractions ready to launch in a few days. There is also a big paella that is shared among the participants!

The Romería de San Juan happens (usually) in the last Sunday before San Juan’s day. Next year you can find me there with a pretty colorful dress and a rose on my head!

Next: Feria de Benalmádena 2023 – our fist time at this extraordinary event

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