Chirigotas and comparsas, some of them over 30 years old, are a distinctive feature of Merida’s Carnival.
The celebrations open with the semi-finals of the adult group contest held at the Congress Palace, where chirigotas and comparsas compete.
There are also contests for youth and children. This event attracts groups from Merida and its surroundings as well as from other provinces.
During the Roman Carnival, Merida’s cultural agenda is packed with unmissable events like the National Drag Queen contest ‘Tomás Bravo’, the Drum and Percussion Regional contest, the parade of pasacalles to the sound of live music, the Itinerary of the Carnival Tapas and the Sunday of the Adas during which the groups offer ‘chocolatadas’, ‘canapetadas’, ‘salsichadas’, ‘paelladas’, ‘gazpachadas’ and other delicious tastings, not to mention the traditional burial of the sardine.
The Holy Week of Merida was declared a Festival of National and International Tourist Interest.
The Way of the Cross passes through Roman remains like the Temple of Diana, the Arch of Traian, the Roman bridge and the procession of the Santísimo Cristo de la O, which takes place inside the Roman Amphitheatre from the early hours of Friday to Holy Saturday, seamlessly blending into the monumental city.
The Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and for seven days more than 30 pasos – floats of religious scenes – are carried down the streets. Many are hand carved masterpieces.
Pasos that parade through Plaza de España and the Roman temples are a unique feature of Merida Holy Week, together with the pregón in the roman Theatre, The costaleros pregón (opening) or the contest of the saetas (holy week hymns).
Every year Mérida recreates its Roman past during the celebrations of Emerita Lvdica, when the city and its people are carried back in time to the I century AD.
Visit Merida during this event and you will have a better idea of how life of the ancient Romans was like. Merida citizens all come together to make this event a truly unforgettable experience.
There are endless activities you can enjoy, historical re-enactments like the roman markets, gladiator fights, marching legionaries, fashion shows with Roman style dresses, and theatrical performances.
Noteworthy the celebrations of the Roman White Night during which tourists and citizens can enjoy monuments until dawn.
The Roman bridge, the Alcazaba, the Temple of Diana, the National Museum of Roman Art, the amphitheatre, will provide the perfect backdrop for a Merida that will see mortals and gods walk again its streets.
The International Festival of Classical Theatre of Mérida is the oldest classical theatre festival held in Spain and is considered the most important of its kind. The first play, Seneca “Medea”, was performed by actress Margarita Xirgu in 1933.
The following year, due to the political tensions Spain was encountering, the ‘Festival’ was suspended until 1953, when “Fedra” by the French playwright Jean Racine, was staged by a university theatre company.
It was not until the following year that professional theatre made its comeback. Since then the festival has been held continuously. The festival takes place in July and August in the arena of the Roman Theatre, becoming the oldest theatre in the world to host representations of classical texts.
A festival that brings together every year the best performers of the Spanish theatre scene.
The Roman Theatre of Merida, where comedies and tragedies have been staged since the time of Emperor Augustus, is the prestigious venue of the nationally famous Stone & Music festival. The festival was first held in 2016 to liven up the warm nights in late August and September.
In just a few years the festival’s popularity spread beyond Spain’s borders and now attracts soloist performers and also national and international groups, enriching Merida’s cultural offering.
Few music festivals can boast of an arena like the Roman theater and that its public dance, sing and have fun among stones that are UNESCO World Heritage.