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Five best festivals on the Costa Blanca

One of the most notable differences between life in Spain and life in the UK is the bewildering amount of festivals and public holidays in the Spanish calendar. To somebody raised outside Spain, it can seem that every other day some festival or other is taking place. In fact, in any given year, there are more than twenty public holidays throughout the country, some of which are only celebrated in certain regions while others are nationwide. Below is Sonneil’s list of the five best festivals to be enjoyed on the Costa Blanca. 

Moros and Christians

The festival of Moors and Christians celebrates the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic monarchy after 700 years of Muslim rule in 1492. The reconquest is celebrated annually throughout Spain, but the cities of Valencia and Alicante have a particularly strong association with the tradition. Locals dress as either Moors or Christians for the occasion and re-enact battles. The two groups fight it out in the streets, which are filled with noise and smoke, watched by thousands of spectators. In contrast, in mid-August, Dénia celebrates the festival of Moors and Christians as a tribute to the coexistence of cultures, highlighting the virtues of tolerance and multiculturalism.

San Juan

The fires of St. John (Fuegos de Sant Juan) announce the arrival of summer. At midnight, the city of Alicante offers a magnificent firework display and papier-mâché statues are burned during a ceremony called the Cremá de la Hoguera. In the afternoon, everyone heads to the beach to share a picnic and barbecue grilled sardines or meat. This is followed by the customary midnight swim, which is said to wash away bad luck and invite good fortune.

Las Fallas

The Costa Blanca celebrates the famous Las Fallas festival in March, during which giant satirical statues of celebrities or politicians are carried in procession through the streets before being burned. It is the most important festival of the Valencian community and attracts thousands of tourists each year. While Valencia itself has the most spectacular Fallas celebrations, there are also festivities in Benidorm, Calpe, Denia, and Gandia among others. 

Carnival

Carnival is perhaps most famously associated with Brazil; however it is in fact widely celebrated throughout the Latin world, including the Costa Blanca. Starting on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday in the Christian calendar, Carnival serves as one last blowout of excess and debauchery before the austerity of Lent. In Benidorm, where the biggest parade takes place, thousands of people turn out to watch the giant decorated floats and dance to the marching bands. 

Tres Reyes

This is one of the most anticipated days of the year for children as it is when the Three Wise Men come bearing gifts. At this time of the year the streets are still decorated with Christmas lights, and the squares are filled with Nativity scenes carol singers. On the night of the epiphany, January 6, The Three Kings arrive on their camels loaded with presents and throw sweets and treats out to the thousands of children assembled along the parade route. Experiencing this deeply rooted Spanish tradition is an absolute must.

Five best golf courses on the Costa Blanca

Five best golf courses on the Costa Blanca

The Costa Blanca is a paradise for golf lovers with 21 courses – including 3 pitch and putt – several of which were designed by some of the most famous names to grace the game. With most of the courses situated along the coast, you can make the most of the warm Mediterranean climate and hit the fairways all round. Below is just a selection of some of the Costa Blanca’s best golf courses.

Las Colinas

Located at the southern tip of the province of Alicante, near Torrevieja, Las Colinas Golf and Country Club has been ranked among the top 100 golf courses in Europe by Golf World magazine. Designed by the renowned North American landscape architect, Cabell B. Robinson, it’s a true championship course, with the sole aim of offering the best services and amenities to ensure that every player has a unique experience.

La Finca

The La Finca golf club lies in natural surroundings of great beauty and with fantastic views. Its facilities are open to those who want to play golf in the heart of nature while being able to enjoy the beaches, sailing clubs and a host of other facilities and services just a few minutes away. Several lakes with running water and reed beds along the course add beauty and difficulty to the game, and have made the course the home of a wide variety of migratory water birds, such as ducks and egrets, while the interior of the course is home to olive and palm trees, thus creating a beautiful backdrop of vegetation with a distinctly Mediterranean flavour.

Don Cayo

Founded in 1974 but completely redesigned in 2006, this 9-hole course offers spectacular views, especially on the third hole which takes in the bay of Altea, north of Benidorm and the 7th, where you can make out the Sierra Bernia mountains surrounding the Marina Baixa. It is very attractively designed, and the location makes this an unbeatable place for a round of golf. It is a semi-private club that is open to the public, with members and green fee players both using the course.

La Sella

Located south of the city of Denia, this 27-hole gem is the work of the great José Maria Olazabal. Built in three 9-hole pitches between 1990 and 2010, the La Sella golf course has hosted the Ladies European Tour on four occasions. This impressive course dotted with pine, almond and carob trees, boasts of wonderful views of the mountains and the Mediterranean. 

Oliva Nova

Created in 1992 by the Spanish legend Severiano Ballesteros, the Oliva Nova links course is spread over 50 hectares. The course, located in a huge residential complex, meaning it is surrounded by homes, but it is nonetheless very attractive. Water is constantly at play on this highly technical 18-hole course that alternates between short holes and much longer holes. Only holes 1, 2, 13 and 14 are free of water hazards but the wind remains a very important element throughout the course. 

Wines of the Costa Blanca

Wines of the Costa Blanca

When it comes to Spanish wines, the Costa Blanca is somewhat overshadowed by the more famous Rioja and Ribero del Duero regions. This just makes it all the more exciting to discover that the Costa Blanca, Alicante specifically, has a long and distinguished oenological history and remains one of Spain’s most varied wine producing regions. 

Alicante wine comes from two well defined regions: The coastal area north of Benidorm, between the towns of Denia and Calpe, is known as La Marina and has a Mediterranean climate ideal for growing Moscatel; while the larger, more-inland of region Vinalopo, with its dry continental climate is home to red Monastrell wine. Indeed, with more than 14, 000 hectares under cultivation, around 80 percent of the world’s Monastrell wines come from Vinalopo.

Other notable red grapes grown in the region include Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouché) Merlot Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, while whites include Airén, Macabeo, Merseguera, Moscatel Romano, Planta Fina and Verdil.

In a category all of its own is Fondillon: a sweet, non-fortified wine made from extra-ripe monastrell grapes that are allowed to remain on the vine longer than usual, before being pressed, fermented with their skins and then aged for at least eight years in oak. It is characterised by a high level of alcohol and complex flavour, that can range from dry to sweet depending on the on the grapes used. Once upon a time Fondillon was as famous as Rioja is now, reaching the height of its prestige in the 17th century when France’s King Louis XIV is said to have refused all wines except Fondillion when he was on his deathbed.

The technique for making Fondillon was all but forgotten after the spread of the ruinous phylloxera plague that ravaged the region’s vineyards in the late 19th century. Fortunately, in the mid-20th century one Alicante winemaker, Salvador Poveda Luz, decided to re-establish Fondillon. Using a small number of old casks of Fondillon, he experimented until he developed the proper production techniques. Today, Fondillon is one of only five wines recognised by the European Union as unique “luxury” wines.

Alicante wines have also had their quality accredited by the Regulatory Council of the Protected Designation of Origin Alicante, created in 1957. The Designation of Origin Alicante is intended to safeguard the designation of origin recognised in 1932 and promote the wine industry in Alicante, through tasting routes, training, tourism, and events. Added to this quality assurance is the fact that Alicante winegrowers have united to form a cooperative that over the years has become a modern producer of quality wines. 

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