Festivities & Traditions
The City of San Roque’s Holy Week processions have incomparable charm and the added value of having been awarded the title of Andalusian National Tourist Interest. This event is brimming with religious sentiment and strong popular support, as well as ancient statues brought from Gibraltar dating from the 14th until 18th centuries.
In addition, the parades are a singular procession that combines the beauty of the iconography and typical architecture of an Andalusian town. After all, the town of San Roque was founded after a long and painful procession. In many ways, Christ carrying the Cross forms a vivid symbol for the exiled Gibraltarians who left in 1704 due to the loss of the Fortress of Gibraltar and settled on the hill of San Roque where they founded a new City.
Later on, that procession would continue, as the exodus was not only made up of people but also of age-old statues. The iconography which was left in Gibraltar was eventually retrieved and brought to San Roque, where it can be admired to this day, along with other more modern statues, when the Magna Procession of the Holy Burial is held every Good Friday.
Easter week is an intense experience in San Roque, due to the fact thousands of local people and visitors participate and enjoy the cavalcades each year. Locals fervently pour all their energy into the City’s 9 brotherhoods and guilds. The itineraries of the different processions all pass through the Old Quarter of San Roque, which was declared a collection of listed historical buildings in 1975. Due to the beauty of its architecture and unique history, it is one of the main tourist attractions in the Gibraltar Area. Throughout Easter week, processions leave the four churches in the city and end at Saint Mary the Crowned Parish Church. The Good Friday processions start at the temple and make up the incomparable Magna Procession of the Holy Burial in San Roque.
The Magna Procession is one of the city’s symbols. In essence, it is a comprehensive religious portrayal of the Last Days of Jesus Christ – an awe-inspiring spectacle. The unbeatable setting of the Church Square, Saint Mary the Crowned Parish Church, with the departure of the floats down the steep San Felipe Street is the starting point of San Roque’s depiction of the Passion of Christ.
The Statues from Gibraltar paraded in San Roque are the following:
- Our Lady of Mercy is thought to come from Gibraltar (16th century). Accompanied by the Christ of Medinaceli.
- Christ of Humility & Patience (Christ of the Cane)
- Our Father Jesus the Nazarene.
- Christ of the True Cross at Calvary, is one of the most ancient statues. Our Lady Of Sorrows, Marie Magdalene, and Saint John which accompany the Mystery in Calvary, all the statues come from Gibraltar (15th century).
- The Holy Burial (15th century).
- Our Lady of Solitude (15th century).
Processions in the City of San Roque:
- Friday of Sorrows: Via Crucis
- Palm Sunday: Solemn Procession of Palms and Olives.
- Monday: Venerable Guild of Our Father Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane & Our Blessed Lady of Sorrows.
- Tuesday: Venerable Guild of Christ of Humility & Patience and Our Lady of Hope.
The Most Ancient and Venerable Brotherhood of the Holiest Christ of the True Cross at Calvary (Christ of Waters).
Venerable Brotherhood of Our Captive & Released Father Jesus (Medinaceli) and Our Lady of Mercy.
Venerable Brotherhood & Guild of Penitence of Our Lady of Anguish.
- Maundy Thursday:
Venerable Brotherhood of the Holiest Christ of a Happy Death and Blessed Mary of Extreme Sorrow.
Brotherhood & Guild of Our Father Jesus the Nazarene and the Most Blessed Lady of Sorrows.
Silent Procession of Our Lady of Solitude.
- Good Friday: Magna Procession with 14 different floats, including the Holy Burial.
- Easter Sunday: Our Father Jesus the Resurrected Parish Association.
Processions in borough villages:
During Easter week different processions are held in different urban areas in the borough:
Friday of Sorrows: Via Crucis (Campamento).
Saturday: Procession of Our Captive & Released Father Jesus (Taraguilla).
Palm Sunday: Solemn Procession of Palms and Olives (Guadiaro, Estación de San Roque & Puente Mayorga).
Tuesday: Via Crucis (Guadiaro & Estación de San Roque); procession of Christ on the Cross (Estación de San Roque).
Wednesday: Procession of the Nazarene and Our Lady of Sorrows (Estación de San Roque); Our Captive & Released Father Jesus and Our Lady of Sorrows (Holy Encounter, San Enrique de Guadiaro).
Maundy Thursday: Via Crucis (Puente Mayorga).
Good Friday: Procession of the Holy Burial and Blessed Mary of Sorrows (Holy Encounter, Guadiaro).
This festivity is linked to Lent is a time of the year for fancy dress, parades, and floats. What stands out in our province are carnival choir competitions.
In San Roque town centre and the different villages in the borough, it is celebrated in February and sometimes at the beginning of March. “Chirigota” and “comparsa” choirs attend from all over the province of Cadiz.
The Carnival Choir Competition is held at Juan Luis Galiardo Theatre in which all the “chirigotas” and “comparsas” from the Gibraltar Area that wish to compete for can. The best reach the final on a Friday, a final in which there is always a “chirigota” or “comparsa” invited along.
Days go by with the traditional parade featuring animation, musical bands, charanga bands, and passacaglia music, but the main component is the large number of people wearing fancy dress costumes who flock to the event and have the chance to participate in the fancy dress competition.
San Roque Pilgrimage
It is held every year in the last week of April, organised by the “Romeros de San Roque” Association, in association with the Council. The statue of the co-patron saint of the city, San Roque is paraded from the San Roque Shrine to the Pinar del Rey with colourful carriages and hundreds of horse riders and pilgrims on foot.
People camp out on Saturday and Sunday and enjoy the company of all the other pilgrims. On Sunday a “rociero” mass is held accompanied by the city’s “rociero” choir, in which a blessing of medals is organised. The performance of different dance groups can be enjoyed. Mid-afternoon on Sunday the pilgrims make their way back to the Shrine and leave the statue of the patron saint there.
San Enrique Pilgrimage
The pilgrimage and open-air dance of Our Lady of Fatima are held in May in San Enrique, one of the villages in the borough. It is a weekend party for the village folk and visitors to the area.
On Saturday the open-air dance is celebrated in the village square until the early hours of the morning. On Sunday the pilgrimage starts in the morning with a mass at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church, accompanied by a “rociero” choir.
Then, the statue of the Virgin is taken from the abovementioned parish church to a nature spot by the River Guadiaro, accompanied by a group of pilgrims on foot and horse riders from the local horse riding clubs. In the afternoon the statue is taken back to the parish church accompanied by the pilgrims.
Saint John’s Eve Bonfires
To celebrate the beginning of the summer, Saint John’s Eve is celebrated on the evening of 23rd June every year in different villages in the borough of San Roque with bonfires at midnight. “Juanillo” dolls are burnt on the bonfires in Taraguilla, Torreguadiaro, Puente Mayorga & Guadarranque, a tradition which is complemented by events organised by the Council and local associations.
The Festivity of the Virgin of Carmen
Every 16th July the festivity of Our lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated, the patron saint of mariners. The festivity of the Virgin of Carmen is one of the most popular ones in the maritime village of San Roque. The statue of the Virgin is carried around the streets and sails out to sea in the waters around Guadarranque, Puente Mayorga & Torreguadiaro.
Royal Fair of San Roque
During August San Roque dresses up in colourful polka dot dresses to tribute to the patron saint, Saint Mary the Crowned. The fair starts on Tuesday with the coronation of the teenage and infant queens and their respective entourages.
On Wednesday the street lighting is switched on and the parade is held with colourful floats down the local streets as far as “El Ejido” Fairground, also accompanied by a parade of horse riders.
On Thursday a big children’s water party is organised in the Alameda Alfonso XI Square with animation, bouncy castles, and water attractions. In the evening on the same day, a dinner party for the senior citizens is held as part of a tribute to the elderly in San Roque town centre.
As a gesture of solidarity from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm the sound of attractions is kept silent and marquees lower the volume to the minimum to cater for parents with autistic children.
On Friday there is a bullfight every year during the Royal Fair at 7:00 pm at the historic bullring, inaugurated in 1853.
On Saturday a tapas route is held organised by “La Polaina” Horse Riding Cultural Association, with horse riders dressed in typical costumes guiding their horses to the rhythm of “rociera” music and stopping at different bars and restaurants to savour typical dishes prepared for the occasion. It is also traditional on this day for women to organise a lunch party at the municipal marquee in the fairground.
Sunday is known as “Domingo Rociero”, marquees open from 1:00 pm onwards with groups and “rociero” choirs performing in the municipal marquee and the music accompanied by a popular giant paella. At midnight fireworks are let off from the Alameda Alfonso XI Square, a show that almost brings an end to the festivities, although the “Toro del Aguardiente” bull run starts at 7:00 am with the bang of a firecracker which announces that the bull has been let loose and is being directed by the bull run club to run along several streets until it reaches the bullring.
The grand finale comes on 15th August with the festivity of the Assumption of the Virgin Saint Mary the Crowned, when the statue of the saint is carried around the streets of the town in procession, in which what is profane and religious go hand in hand.
Fairs in the villages of San Roque:
Taraguilla Fair takes place coinciding with Saint John’s Eve (23rd June) and goes on for 4 days.
Guadiaro Fair is celebrated the last week in June or the first in July and lasts 4 days.
The Bay Fair (Campamento & Puente Mayorga)
The Bay Fair (Campamento & Puente Mayorga) takes place in the first week of July and lasts 4 days.
San Enrique Fair
San Enrique Fair is celebrated at the end of July and lasts 4 days (from Thursday until Sunday).
La Feria de San Enrique se celebra a finales de julio y tiene una duración de 4 días (desde el jueves a domingo).
Miraflores Fête takes place in late July and lasts three days.
Estación de San Roque Fair
Estación de San Roque Fair is the last one in the municipality, it is held in the last two weeks in August, coinciding with the festivity of its patron saint, Saint Bernard. It lasts 4 days.
San Roque’s Noche Blanca
Noche Blanca (White Night) is one of the most awaited dates in late August with a programme full of activities in the streets and squares of San Roque at nighttime, using the incomparable background of the Historic Centre. The event features dancing, museum visits, passacaglia music, cinema projections, or photography. It is recommended to attend dressed in white in tribute to the name of the event.
San Roque’s Nativity Scene Re-enactment
In San Roque town centre the Nativity Scene Re-enactment is organised in the Plaza de Armas Square and in the streets around Saint Mary the Crowned Parish Church with the participation of over 200 people and around 50 market stalls representing the birth of Christ with Nativity Scenes, a pond with ducks, stalls with artisan products, Herod and Romans.
Nativity Scene Re-enactments in the villages
Also in Estación de San Roque, Taraguilla & Puente Mayorga there are Nativity Scene Re-enactments. In the first two villages they are celebrated on a Saturday and Sunday and in Puente Mayorga it is organised only on a Sunday.
Three Kings Parade
After Christmas and at the beginning of the New Year, young ones in San Roque get ready for the imminent arrival of the Three Kings. From 3rd and 4th January the boys and girls in San Roque enjoy are grand Christmas and Three Kings kids’ party in the Alameda Alfonso XI Square and they can also enjoy the skating rink.
San Roque and its villages celebrate their respective parades and receptions with the Three Kings in which the thrill of little ones is the emphasis on the eve of the Three Kings celebration.
On 5th cans and tins are dragged around the streets, a real tradition in the whole of the borough, in which little ones go out early with very singular contraptions made of tins and drinking cans made by family members.