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Festivals in Ayllon
Ayllon - El Pueblo Español
The most popular festivals are the traditional 'San Miguel' (Saint Michael's festival), patron saint of Ayllon, on the 29th of September, and the most modern festival, 'Medieval Ayllon' which takes place during the last weekend of July

The Saint Michael festivities

These festivities last about a week coinciding with the 29th of September which is the Saint's Day of the patron saint of Ayllon. Now I live in Barcelona and I work at that time so I am unable to go but when the day arrives, I always remember my childhood and youth in the Ayllon festivities and I allow my imagination to transport me for a moment to my town and I must tell you what we used to do:

The young people of the town in groups of friends, had a month in which to prepare a 'peña' which consisted of getting a room ready for the festivities.

We would spend all our afternoons there painting and decorating but the most important thing was the opportunity to meet up and have fun doing something together. When it was time for the festivities, each 'peña' or group of friends had prepared their premises to the best of their abilities and a contest was organised to see which was the most attractive of all. The most important thing wasn't the prize itself, I don't remember our 'peña' ever winning it, but It gave us sufficient motivation to want to do our very best.

The festival began with a parade of floats with the queen and ladies-in-waiting, who were of course, the prettiest girls in the town. Afterwards, the Lord Mayor would make his proclamation announcing the start, one more year, of the festival of our patron saint 'San Miguel'.

Nobody missed it. From the youngest to the oldest, we all listened enthusiastically to those words which meant that everybody joined together one more year in the festivities of our town. When he had finished speaking, the music started in the square and everyone there started to dance to the sweet sound of that music, which I still remember to this day: those 'jotas' (Aragonese music) played by the new master in the art of minstrelsy , which I loved and still listen to at home from time to time. We used to go from peña to peña to see how they had been decorated and to drink the delicious lemonade which had been prepared by each peña and which had its own particular taste, depending on where it had been made.

Those days were full of joy and bustle, and I have fond memories of them. People used to drink too much but that was put right by sleeping a little and then, thenext morning, they would be ready to begin another day of festivities. The musicians of the town and the young men, playing music for street marching, used to go from house to house wherever there was a young woman, who would then come out to the balcony to watch them.

There was always bullfighting. I know some people don't like it because they think it involves cruelty to animals. Personally, I didn't like to see the bull get killed. I have memories rather of the festive atmosphere and the music which was played there.

Another interesting thing we used to do was enter contests and take part in activities. There was something for everyone in the town, from the youngest to the oldest, everyone could participate. One of the activities consisted of trying to fill a basket with more potatoes than your opponents by having to run from one side to the other with your legs tied.

There were contests like typical dance competitions: pasodobles, tangos and of course, jotas. There was even a tug of war competition with two teams pulling on a rope at opposite ends to see which team could pull the other. It was, all in all, a wonderful week for everyone.

Night time entertainment had to be present and groups used to get people dancing in the town square and the town dance hall.


Medieval Ayllon

Another festival well worth mentioning and which is of growing importance is the Medieval Ayllon festival. It is held during the last weekend of July. It was held for the first time in 1997 and every year as well as people from the town, an increasing number of visitors have come from nearby towns and from all over. At first, the festival only lasted a day but because of the huge participation, it now lasts two days, Saturday and Sunday.

This festival takes us back to the medieval period, to the year 1423. A change, or rather, a real transformation takes place.
A few weeks before the festival, the townsfolkchange the appearance of Ayllon from what it looks like now to how it used to look at that time. Everyone participates, the carpenter, the blacksmith,the masons and of course all the ladies of the town make outfits for all the family so everyone looks just right.
It looks as if everyone, from Grandfather to the youngest member of the household, has gone through a time tunnel and landed in the most splendid period of the medieval age in the 15th century.
All the houses are adorned with banners, flags and the coats of arms of the ladies and gentlemen who lived there. People go out onto the street waiting for the arrival of the King. The town of Ayllon holds a market during this festival, in the middle of the square which has been transformed into a medieval square.

All the townsfolk, and anyone else who would like to, dress up as they would have done in the 15th century. There are horsemen with their horses, ladies of noble birth,beggers, monks, Moors and Christians and no end of characters awaiting the arrival of King Don Juan II and the Supreme Commander of the Military Forces of Castilla, Don Álvaro de Luna. While waiting for such important charactures, you can enjoy the story teller telling the tale of Don Álvaro de Luna from when he arrived in our town to his banishment and tragic death.

You can find outmore about this on this web page, in the history of Ayllon. Youcan also enjoy walking around the market where craftsmen, moulding clay, carving wood or blowing glass, can be seen, and there are no end of stalls where you canfind anything from clothes from that period, armour and ornaments like the lace edging made by expert hands that you can see in the photos.

In the afternoon, you can enjoy concerts, listening to ancient and renaissance music, and at night all artificial lighting has disappeared and instead, torches from that period light the way.The town recaptures a special look , that of a real medieval town. Celtic or folk concerts give a finishing medieval touch to he town.

Eunday is market day again and those who couldn't go on Saturday can have fun looking round the different stalls, as well as those who did go and who continue to enjoy watching how roof slates are made by hand or eating bread with chorizillo, a pork sausage, spiced with red pepper, and delicious tocinillo or bacon which will make you lick your fingers - a Spanish expression meaning really tasty. Ah, and something else I haven't told you, everything you buy at the market has to be paid for in 'maravedíes' which was the money used at that time. There is a bank where you can change euros for maravedíes, because the market stall holders don't know anything about euros, of course!

In the afternoon, the best horses and their riders compete in a tournament to see who wins. It is well worth seeing and I personally am transported to that period when I see the horsemen with their armour. It really is well worth seeing.
At night, the last performance with Celtic or folk music is a final goodbye but only until the following year when we will be thrilled once more with that music which enlivens the entire festival.

Torneo     Torneo


Of course these are not the only festivals held in Ayllon, although they are the most important. Of the other festivals held in the town of Ayllon, the 'Romería del Padre Eterno', or Eternal Father Procession, which takes place on the Sunday after Whit Sunday, in Estenbavela, a neighbouring town of Ayllon, is worth mentioning for the fervour it arouses amoungst the people of the area.

ERMITA "SANTO CRISTO" Another festival worth a mention, is the 'Cruz de Mayo' or May Cross festival which is held on the first Sunday of May. This festival is held because the people of Ayllon are very devoted to the 'Santo Cristo' or Holy Christ which is the name given to a hermitage which you can see on your way out of the town. It is frequently visited every afternoon by people who go there to pray. INTERIOR DEL "SANTO CRISTO" On the day of the festival, however, different offerings are auctioned off: rosquillas or breadbun rings made by the baker, fresh lamb or even a handmade shawl. The proceeds are used for the upkeep of the hermitage. The townsfolk look after it, giving it a great deal of care and attention. Afterwards, everybody, young and old, goes to a field outside the 'Exconvento' and they dance all afternoon to the sound of music. It is a festival which I particularly enjoy.

Apart from this festival, there are others like the Maundy Thursday festival which is held on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, when 'tendida' is eaten. This consists of omelette and chorizo with a special kind of bread, and is delicious. Afterwards, on Shrove Tuesday, carnaval day, you can see the young and the not so young, dress up and disguise themselves in imaginative fancy- dress costumes.


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