Photos of flamenco dancers in their elaborate dishes and castanets splash across guidebooks and tourist brochures throughout Andalusia. As a result, flamenco has come to represent quintessential Andalusia and many visitors are keen to experience its dance, song and music. The chances are that you’ll be among them and wondering where to see flamenco on the Costa del Sol.
This potted guide looks at the origins of this uniquely Andalusian art form. We then list the main flamenco festivals and top venues to see flamenco when you’re on holiday on the Costa del Sol.
The origins of flamenco
Take a whirl of frills above frenzied footwork, a guitar flourish, a heartfelt lament and pulsating clapping and you have probably one of the most intense experiences you’ll sense anywhere in Spain. Flamenco is, of course, the quintessential Andalusian art form and for many people, it represents southern Spain above all others.
Its origins, however, aren’t crystal clear. It appears Arabic in its deepest roots, but the art form also has Greek, Romani, Jewish and Hindu influences. It arrived in Andalusia with gipsies in the mid-18th century and centred on three main stages: Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana in Seville.
- There are over 50 different styles, known as palos, which divide into four main pillars: fandango, seguidilla, soleá and toná. Each of the four has its own rhythm and mood.
- Dance is the most popular form of flamenco among tourists, but its purest art form lies in song.
- Clapping provides an essential beat to any type of flamenco and probably predates the guitar and cajón (acoustic box).
- Flamenco is an experience to feel, more than see and hear. The best singers will send shivers down your spine with their haunting laments and the most talented dancers will make your jaw drop as they tap and stamp on the stage.
- Duende is the word described for the almost trancelike state that the best flamenco performers look for when they sing, dance or play.
Best flamenco festivals on the Costa del Sol
Malaga province plays host to a long list of flamenco festivals and it’s usually possible to see a performance at any time of year. Some of the most famous are:
Bienal de Arte Flamenco in Malaga and the surrounding area
This festival takes place every other year (the next is in 2023), usually between May and October. It showcases local artists from all flamenco genres as well as other talents from around Spain.
Festival de Cante Grande de Casabermeja
This small village to the north of Malaga celebrates its annual tribute to flamenco song on the last Saturday in July. It takes place at night in the open air in almost complete darkness and has the reputation as one of the finest flamenco festivals in Andalucia.
Festival Flamenco Torre del Cante
Celebrating its 49th edition in 2023, this festival in Alhaurín de la Torre takes place in June. Like Casabermeja, it celebrates flamenco song and features top artists.
Noche Flamenca de Santa María
Taking place in the Plaza de Santa María in Antequera, this evening of performances takes place in August. Next year will be the 36th edition.
Best places to see flamenco on the Costa del Sol
If your holiday doesn’t coincide with any of the main flamenco festivals, you might want to visit a local venue (known as peña or tablao). There are plenty of places that ‘do’ a flamenco show, but the quality sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. With this in mind, we’ve listed spots where you can see more or less good flamenco on the Costa del Sol.
Flamenco in Malaga
The city’s flamenco roots lie deep and several top artists hail from here. If you’d like to see a performance, we recommend the following:
Cervantes Theatre – check out the programme during your holiday because the Theatre has regular flamenco performances and concerts.
Peña Juan Breva – named after one of Malaga’s greatest flamenco artists, this venue museum offers performances every Friday. See the website for details.
Flamenco on the east side of the Costa del Sol
Flamenco abierto Axarquía – performances every Friday of all flamenco types in the town of Vélez-Málaga at the intimate venue of the Peña Flamenco del Niño de Vélez. There are also one-off concerts throughout the year, often with free entry. More information.
Flamenco on the west side of the Costa del Sol
Ronda Guitar House – more classic Spanish guitar than flamenco, this unique venue offers daily guitar concerts with occasional nods to flamenco palos.
Taberna Flamenca Pepe López – another classic on the Costa del Sol flamenco scene, this venue in Torremolinos has shows with music, song and dance on Thursdays and Saturdays. More information.
Taberna Flamenca Ana Maria – the classic spot in Marbella to see the in-house flamenco show, which includes a drink and tapa for €25. More information
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