The multicultural cavalcade of the Pregó, the Romeria de les Canyes (a procession), the Encesa de Gaiates (the switching of the Gaiatas) and the offering to Our Lady of Lledó are the exciting package of emotional traditions that surround the Magdalena festivals, in Castelló de la Plana. Its character is different with respect to the rest of Spain because it does not pay homage to its patronness saint, the Virgin of the Lledó, but it commemorates its origins, when in 1252 the city moved from the hill from which the Hermitage is named, to the plain next to the Mediterranean. From 23 to 31 March, more than 250 shows are waiting for visitors, who will be able to benefit from important AVE and long-haul trains discounts.
Castelló de la Plana is not only unique because of its geographical location-which allows it to combine sea, mountain and orchard in the same natural environment– but also because of its biggest festival: la Magdalena. In it, far from being dedicated to its patron saint, the Virgin of the Lledó, which is common in most cities and towns of Spain, what is commemorated is a crucial historical fact for the future of Castelló: its transfer from the hills to the plains.
History explains that the origin of Castelló was located at the top of the Cerro del Castell Vell (Hill of the Old Castle) – a fortress of Arab origin– where the Hermitage of la Magdalena is also located. But the harsh living conditions in that area meant that once in the hands of the Christians, an edict by King James I allowed it to be moved in the 13th century to the farm (rural settlement) of Benirabé, a flatter and fertile place where the city grew on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The castellonese tradition points out that this transfer took place, in particular, during the night of Saturday to Sunday third Lent, in 1252, hence this feast does not have a fixed day –another of its singularities– since it can be celebrated in February, in March… or even in April.
In 2019, the Magdalena festivities will take place from Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 March. Nine intense days in which castellonenses and visitors can enjoy more than 250 scheduled events, including concerts, pyrotechnic shows, animation companies, gaiatas and collas filling the streets with colour, warmth and overflowing joy. A magical fusion of history, mythology, legends and traditions that leaves no one indifferent.
Four are the peak moments of these festivities. The first is the multicultural parade of the Pregón, which will start the festivities on Saturday the 23rd. More than 3,500 troupes will parade through the streets with their horses, traditional dresses, Giants, heads, representatives of Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures… and even Berber Pirates. An emotional day that not only celebrates the city but also shares it with the rest of the province. On the same day the various markets and fairs will be opened: the gastronomic one, in Santa Clara’s square; the Mesón De Cervezas y Tapas (Beer and Tapas’s Fair), in España’s square; the Food Trucks, in Bisbe Pont I Gol’s square; or the Taurina Fair , next to the Bullring.
The Cane Procession will mark the Sunday start on March 24. A mass pilgrimage from the Plaza Mayor, in the heart of the city, to the hermitage of la Magdalena, with a stop in San Roc to taste the typical lunch of tortilla de habas (Beans Omelette).
The third big moment of the fiestas will take place on the night of Monday, March 25. At 8 p.m., on Avenue Rey Don Jaime, you will proceed to the Encesa de Gaiates (Switching on of the Gaiatas), a symbol of the fiestas. They consist of monumental illuminated structures, about 5 meters high, representing the reeds, canes and lanterns that, according to tradition, the first castellonenses used to see the land on their way back from the chapel of the Magdalena to the plain. There are a total of 19 gaiates, one for each sector or neighbourhood of the city.
The fourth major traditional event of the founding festivities of Castelló will arrive on Saturday, March 30 with the offering of flowers to the Virgin of the Lidón, on an urban tour to the Basilica of the patroness of the city in which thousands of castellonenses pay homage to the Lledonera.
But if there is one element that distinguishes the Magdalena Fiestas are its gaiatas, monuments of light and colour that symbolize the staff and lantern that accompanied the first castellonenses in their transfer from the hill to the plain. And of course, there is no lack of the stunning shows of music and fireworks.
This year, those who wish to attend the celebrations of la Magdalena will benefit from the agreement signed in FITUR by the mayor, Amparo Marco, and Renfe that will allow important discounts on both the high-speed train, AVE Madrid-Castellón, and the long-haul trains. A very important strategic alliance that will enhance the arrival of visitors to the main events that the capital of La Plana hosts throughout the year.
For further information, please consult the website: www.castellonturismo.com