Night pilgrimage of the Virgen de Gracia. Archidona. August. Unique Festival
This festival has been declared to be of Tourist Interest by the Provincial Council of Málaga.
Please check with the local Town Hall or Municipal Tourism Office for the festival date before planning any sightseeing activities.
The pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgen de Gracia takes place in the early hours of August 15th. It happens to coincide with the beginning of the Feria de Agosto in Archidona (this fair is celebrated between August 14th and 18th), thus becoming one of the most visited cultural events in town.
The whole procession constitutes a ritual—a purposeful, two-kilometre itinerary starting at dusk on August 14th and lasting the entire following day. It is known for happening at night and for the fact that there is no sacred image to parade. In this case, the pilgrims are the ones travelling to the sanctuary to visit the patron saint.
This walking pilgrimage takes the winding road to the shrine while penitents light up the way using candles and torches. Interestingly, there is no other pilgrimage taking place at night in Andalusia, except for the one celebrated in Monachil (Granada). Also, the ritual is associated with two other local traditions: the "Repiques", having the bell towers in every temple ring the bells three times a day, and the "Luminarias", responsible for the delicate lights on the facades of the houses from 9 p.m. onwards.
Even though it is a group pilgrimage, it is individually articulated. That is, it is not organized into a procession, nor is there any protocol. Each participant will personally decide when and for how long to climb to the shrine within the pilgrimage time frame. Likewise, everyone will be free to either attend religious services or not.