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Even though we are in the 21st century where pretty much everything requires a charger, battery life or social media page I think it’s refreshing sometimes to switch off and go back to a more traditional time. The Noche De La Velas, translating to ‘Night of the Candles’, in Mojácar was the perfect example of just that. For one night of the year, the whole of Mojácar Pueblo (old town) turn off the electricity and light up the streets with only candle light. What’s more, the event is completely FREE.
Thousands of lanterns, torches and flames are lit making the whole place come alive once the sun goes down. It was like a fairytale..aside from the crowds of people who were with me haha! As a younger statement event for Mojácar, it’s very popular amongst locals and tourists alike in the Almeria region of Spain.
If you’re curious like me to know why the event takes place, it coincides with the festival to honour the tears of Saint Lorenzo which is known as the ‘rain of stars’. It’s Mojácars’ way of celebrating by allowing everybody to contemplate the starry skies above by switching the lights off and creating a warm fuzzy glow for everyone to enjoy.
It’s truly an event that is not to be missed. But, I feel there’s a few tips to share in order for you to prepare and have the best evening possible.
I found myself very fortunate to arrive in Mojácar just in time for this magical festival as it only happens annually in July! The date is determined by the celebration of Saint Lorenzo, so I would check on the Mojácar Tourism official website for the dates of when it will take place.
As I was wondering around, I kept thinking how this should be a regular thing in more places! I definitely felt that Bath in UK would look beautiful by candlelight or even Venice in Italy. It just makes everything a little bit more special. Just one night where people switch off and make it all warm and romantic.
2. The roads are closed so hop on the public buses
Mojácar Pueblo is situated on top of a steep hill and so, unless you’re planning on hiking, you need a vehicle to make your way up to the top. The roads are closed just before you reach the main part of the old town, so you’ll need to park there if you’re heading up yourself. You may struggle to find parking as spaces will be limited.
Most people that visit will catch the public buses up to the top of the hill for the festival. These are special services that run up and down to the old town for Noche De La Velas and back around certain routes in Mojácar. These routes can be found in Lines (Linea) A, B, C, D, E and F. Each bus will have the route number in a big letter on the front of the bus so you can’t miss it! You can (and I would recommend) buying tickets in advance for this earlier in the day as the qeues get crazy long!
Talking of queues, I didn’t occur to me that there would be so many people heading back at the same time around midnight. I guess after the performances are over, people want to leave and head on home. In the end, myself and Claire from (tales of a backpacker) had to wait 45 minutes for a bus back. It was a typical chaotic fashion where no one knew where the queues were through the crowds of people. But, eventually two came at the same time and we piled on in!
I don’t know if you can really avoid this as it was the same at all hours of the evening, but if you’re not up for queueing you could leave earlier or later in the evening peak times. The buses run at all hours of the evening so don’t worry about missing it!
The queue to get back!
3. Arrive in Mojácar Pueblo as the sun goes down
I would recommend getting to Mojácar Pueblo as the sun sets, even if it is just for the spectacular views of the town, Mediterranean sea and beyond.
Not only will you avoid the queues for the buses and the crowds of people for arriving a little earlier, you’ll get to see the candles being lit up at dusk.
4. Make sure you wear white
So, this one isn’t completely necessary but it’s traditional to wear white at the Noche De La Velas. So, make sure you pack something in your suitcase! If you’re worried about missing out there are plenty of places that sell pretty white dresses in the main town. The perfect reason to treat yourself.
It was a complete fluke that I packed one in my case, usually I wear black so it was like fate!
5. Don’t worry, not all electricity will be off
Before I arrived I had this vision of it being really hard to see and navigate around but there are so many candles the whole place is a-glow!
Restaurants and bars will still have their electricity going, so don’t worry about not getting decent food – they’re not going THAT traditional (although the service will be delayed, more on that below).
Some places like the alleyways and stairs around the church were almost pitch black as candles went out. But, who doesn’t have a smart phone nowadays that has a torch?!
6. There will be hundreds of people in the streets
As a statement event in Mojácar and even the province of Almeria, expect to see tourists en masse flooding the streets during this event. Even when we got here for sunset, the square and the small streets around it were awash with people eagerly awaiting what the night had to offer.
Despite the crowds, there is room enough to enjoy the twinkling candles. You can always find a quiet street or spot to yourself. The event is pretty relaxed and laid back with everyone just wanting a good time.
7. Get a programme to see events going on
What I loved about Noche De La Velas in Mojácar was the fact that it was more than just a candlelit evening. The town really put in the effort with events happening all over the town. You couldn’t turn a corner without a street band playing, a concert of singers or parades of drums and fire which really tempted you to dive into the festivities. There were even telescopes on the rooftops to allow you to feast your eyes on the galaxies above.
Always make sure you grab a programme to see the times of events and what’s going on from the Mojácar Tourism office in the centre of town.
8. Restaurants will be busy, prepare to wait!
We were lucky enough to be invited to a beautiful rooftop restaurant called Arlequino which had jaw dropping views of the old town at sunset. It was the perfect start to the evening and the vibe held the promise of great food by candlelight.
Although the restaurant was stunning, I was a little disappointed with the service. Obviously, Noche De La Velas is a busy event and the whole town really come together to make it happen. Apparently, some of the waiters that evening were local lawyers and school teachers helping out.
But, I think that this really affected the service which was slow, there wasn’t much care taken with the food and plates were being thrown on the table. Any other night and I think this restaurant would be stunning and relaxed.
It’s definitely something to be wary of if you plan to eat in the town that evening. I would make a reservation in advance to ensure you save yourself a place and expect a long wait for your food.
9. It will be like a fairytale
Noche De La Velas really met my expectations of a fairytale evening. I mean, when else in the 21st century do you get to experience a whole town lit up by candlelight?! Seeing the quaint little streets with a fuzzy warm glow was so stunning. I could of stayed there all night gazing at all the glittering lights under the stars.
I counted myself as lucky that my trip coincided with such a special festival in Mojácar. The fact that it brought the whole town together really was the cherry on top of an amazing visit to Spain!
You really don’t want to miss when this magical event hits the town. It was truly a night to remember.
Want to see more? Watch my vlog!
Getting to Mojácar
Mojácar is based in the stunning Costa De Almeria region in the south of Spain. With its 17 kilometres of unbroken coastline paired with pristine beaches, white washed buildings and swaying palm trees, the tropical vibe will quickly take hold. I had never heard of Mojácar until I flew here with Jet2holidays. Now I’m dying to go back!
Although you may feel like you’ve been transported to an exotic paradise, the journey time here is only a quick 2 hours from UK. Jet2 run flights from London Stansted, Belfast, Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. You can take a look at all Jet2 flights to Almeria here. The closest airport is Almeria which is a quick hour’s transfer down the road. The views are so eye catching, you’ll hardly have time to notice the drive.
Where to stay in Mojácar
If you’re lucky enough to be spending longer than one day in Mojácar, I would highly recommend the luxurious Alegria Palacio Mojácar where I stayed with Jet2holidays. It’s a little out of the main town but the distance is worth it for the peace and quiet you will get in return.