The Party's Over

It's easy to focus, as this photo does, on the fun side of the festival; that after all is what attracts the thousands of visitors who throng the streets over the four days. Apart from the stalls, there are the street theatre groups of 'strolling players'; there is the chidrens' corner with special events for them; there are the craft stalls, the food stalls and a wide choice of street food. And every night there are the concerts, followed by a disco until three in the morning. The festival opens and closes with spectacular firework displays, and in between people move from bar to bar sampling the range of tapas which is presented for the occasion - complete one of the tapas routes and you can claim a free t-shirt from the information tent! However, this is a festival with a more serious intention. It reminds us of where Frigiliana and the area that surrounds it, La Axarquía, comes from; its geographical and cultural origins dating from the days of Al Andalus, the seven hundred years of Arab/Muslim rule of much of the Iberian Peninsula, and the migrants who were attracted to this great civilisation. It reminds us, equally importantly in today's troubled world, that for seven centuries, Jews, Muslims, Christians lived together peacefully and harmoniously; a peace and harmony that only finally collapsed when 'Los Reyes Cátolicos', the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabela decided to unite the Peninsula apart from Portugal as the Catholic Christian country of Spain, thereby gaining very valuable support from Rome. The concerts illustrate the rich heritage of the mix of cultures, so that this year we had music from Morocco, from Portugal, from Rumanis, from Catalonia and the Basque country, as well as from Andalusian flamenco itself. In previous years we have had music from Galicia, from the klezmer tradition of eastern Europe, from Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire, and nearer home, from the Sephardi tradition of the Jewish heritage of southern Spain. Augmenting this, we had experts giving lectures on their specilist interests - the Iberian origigns of Andalusian music, and the contribution of St Teresa de Ávils to Christianity in the Peninsula and beyond. Preparations will soon begin for next year's festival, with the clear objective that it shall build on and surpass this tear's.

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