The Mysteri Play, or Festa d’Elx, declared by UNESCO a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible World Heritage in 2001, is the leading event, of Elche´s deep-rooted festival season of great richness, the main date of which is the Day of Our Lady of the Assumption on the 15th August. In December, with the celebration of the Coming of the Virgin, the origins of the Mystery Play are commemorated, when the legendary, sacred image of the Virgin Mary, arrived by sea in an ark which also contained the consueta or the rules for the summer performances. The coastguard Francesc Cantó, who is still represented today, mounted on his horse, galloping to announce the good news, was the finder of the discovery on the beach of Tamarit.
Other key landmarks in the festive calendar are Palm Sunday, when thousands of white palms, fruits of the Palm Grove and of the painstaking work of the hands of craftswomen, accompany the representation of the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, popularly known as La Burreta,and Easter Sunday, when millions of little pieces of coloured paper, known as Hallelujahs, which give their name to the procession, are showered onto the image of the Resurrected Jesus and, in particular, on the image of the Patron Saint, Our Lady of the Assumption.
Also in August, in addition to the Moors and Christians Festival, which recalls the conquest of the city by the troops of King Jaime I in 1265, is the Nit de L’Albà, on the night of the 13th and la Nit de la Roà, in the early hours of the 14th and 15th, which take place on the same dates as the performances of the Mystery Play of Elche.
And there is much, much more. Come along and immerse yourself in the festivals a people who are as hard-working as few and as fun-loving as almost none. Enjoy yourselves with the men and women who make possible one of the richest festival programmes in Spain, or for that matter the world, and be surrounded by their life-loving spirit.