Palm weaving for Easter in Elche


Easter or Semana Santa is celebrated across Spain - from tiny villages to the big cities, Easter is the biggest festival of them all. With common traits running across the celebrations, some towns and cities have their own specific traditions which brings both locals and tourists alike to celebrate together. Semana Santa in Andalucía Semana Santa is particularly well known outside of Spain as being the processions undertaken by the confradias or brotherhoods in Seville, Cordoba and Granada. However, in other regions there are some traditions which make them stand out, Elche, near Alicante being one of them. Unique offerings for the Elche Palm Sunday Procession The Palm Sunday Procession in Elche, held on the Sunday before Good Friday, dates back to the 14th century, a time when Spain was under Moorish rule, yet these palm trees were used to provide palm offerings for Christian traditions. Elche is one of the only places in the world where the tradition of making palm fronds still survives. The fronds are exported across the world and sourced from the Palmeral of Elche, Europe's largest palm grove and the most northerly in the world, mentioned by Hans Christian Anderson in his 1862 novel A Journey through Spain. Named a UNESCO world Heritage Site, the palm trees grow in covered conditions for most of the year, to maintain their unique colouring. The leaves are bound together at the crown of the tree so that sunlight cannot reach the new leaves sprouting and growing in the centre. This process turns the leaves from their natural green colour to the yellow/straw colour associated with Palm Sunday. Unique weavings The weaving of the palm leaves is unique to the Mediterranean, with the only other place in the world that produces them for the Vatican amongst other customers, being Bordighera in Italy, a city with trading ties to Spain. In Elche, you can buy both woven and unwoven palms, with intricate designs such as flowers or crowns available to purchase at the markets on Plaza de Baixa, Plaza de Castilla, Plaza de Barcelona, Mercado del Pla de San José, Plaza de Madrid and Plaza de Altabix. If you have a home or are looking to buy a holiday home in Elche, a popular spot near Alicante, or further afield on the Costa Blanca, then contact our local agents via our easy search form for more details on how to buy and where to find the ideal home for you. Sources


Maximise Your Earnings From Your Spanish Rental Property


International tourism in Spain broke its record for the fifth year in a row with a record 82 million tourist visiting the country last year. The combination of visitor numbers and expats means that there is a huge choice in rental properties for the foreigner wanting to spend time in the country. If you’re dreaming of buying a Spanish property to rent out there are important factors to consider to maximise your earning potential. Letting out a home, either for a few weeks or for a long term let, can recoup the running costs involved and give you the extra cash you need so here's some thoughts to help you along the way. Modern Vs Traditional While owning an authentic villa in the olive groves is a Spanish dream come true for some, the reality can equalise to a great deal of hard work if it hasn’t been renovated already. Consider how much you would need to spend in order to update it such as doing the necessary checks for a renovation project it, and how that compares to its market value. Alternatively, choosing a property that is accessible for everyone is likely to broaden the possibilities of future rentals, particularly in Spain where the percentage of retired people is quite high. Check out smart technology, door widths and other home adaptations to get the most from your property. Choose location While there are many factors to consider when buying a rental property in Spain, choosing the location should be one of your main considerations. Whether you’re down on the Costa del Sol or in the Ramblas in Barcelona, having close proximity to at least one airport with frequent flights is a necessity. You’ll also need to think of nearby attractions and amenities such as beaches, shops, bars and restaurants, and include theme or water parks on your list if you want to appeal to families. The little extras With so much competition on the current market, ensuring you have the little extras will increase the possibilities of more frequent rentals for people wanting to live in Spain. Having a swimming pool, for example, is likely to be much easier to rent out rather than a property without them, even it its a shared pool in an apartment. Selling the property’s attributes such as having a local golf course nearby could encourage people to chose your property over someone else's. Whatever type of rental property you buy in Spain, the best advice is to do indepth research first so you’re aware of all the pros and cons to make an informed decision and maximise the rental possibilities of the property. Author: Ali Ayres Picture: David Bartus 


A carnival to rival Rio


They say that the carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the closest you'll get in Europe to carnival on the scale and style of the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Taking place over fifteen days, it's a chance to dance, party and be wowed by the extravagant, flamboyant costumes the carnival goers wear. The Carnival Queen gala The Carnival Queen is chosen on the first Wednesday of the two weeks of Carnival. A gala takes place in which the contestants for the crown parade in their carnival costumes along a 1,200 metre stage. With a queen chosen, the carnival begins on the Friday of that week and is a three day fiesta of fun, glamour, colour, music and dance. Local groups sing both social and political songs to entertain the crowd and send the dancers on their merry way through the parade. El Coso After this three day party comes El Coso, the climax on Carnival Tuesday, of all of the partying. with parades lasting hours taking place along the seafront of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Carnival Queen, floats and dancers put on a spectacular show. Ash Wednesday On the second Wednesday of Carnival, Ash Wednesday, the day after El Coso, the Burial of the Sardine event takes place. A sardine puppet is paraded through the street with widows and mourners crying as it is led to its "burial" where it is set on fire, representing the start of Lent, or Cuaresma in Spanish. Piñata chica Carnival on the island of Tenerife does actually have one more event at the weekend following Ash Wednesday. The celebration of the Piñata chica has more shows, dances and parades and is held in the town of Tacaronte. This carnival has an antique car show and more activities aimed at children.With its own carnival queen gala, parades and sardine burial, the Piñata Chica carnival is the perfect excuse to party some more! Tenerife is an excellent choice of location to buy a holiday home or a place to retire to in the sun. With excellent year-round sunshine, it is within a three to four hour plane ride of Northern European airports and is an ideal choice for almost guaranteed sunshine in the winter, and sunbathing in the summer.


Gastronomic delights in Blanes


Enjoying fresh local food when on holiday is one of reasons why people choose Spain as a place to buy a holiday home or to take a holiday with family or friends. The popular town of Blanes, located on the Costa Brava has everything you need foodwise to savour Spanish food at its best - whether you are eating at home or enjoying a meal and drinks at a local restaurant. Local fruit and fish markets Blanes' fresh fruit market is held every day at the Passeig de Dintre with local producers selling just-picked fruit and vegetables. They don't get much fresher and more colourful than this! Locals refer to the markets with the phrase "Anem a plaça”, or come to the square, as it was how the market held in Plaça dels Dies Feiners was known years ago. Fresh fish, literally just off the boat can also be bought every afternoon during the week, at the Lonja in front of the harbour or at the recently renovated Plaça dels Dies Feiners(Dies Feiners Square). The weekly indoor market for shoes, gifts and food can be found at Carrer Mas Enlaire, and is held on Monday from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. Local beer and wine producers Local breweries and wineries can also be found in and around Blanes, with local bars serving the best local beers from Marina and Popaire and Laviret and Ses Vernes Cavas or Coral Marine Sea Drink sparkling wine which is aged under the sea. Dine out When cooking for yourself really isn't on the agenda for the evening and you simply want to be spoilt at the table, the harbour area is one of the best places to head to for local food. Seafood is one of the best choices thanks to the town's own fishing fleet bringing in the best fresh fish every day, and it can be found in a range of dishes, from traditional to modern, local to international. Gamba de Blanes, or Blanes prawns are a must-try dish. Enjoy with a chilled white wine and good company. Getting to Blanes Blanes is easily accessible from Barcelona and Girona airports which have excellent connections to European and international airports. Within Europe many low-cost airlines operate to both of these airports, so if your holiday home is in Blanes, you could be as little as two hours away from the sunshine - perfect for a last-minute getaway! For details of properties currently available click on this link: Property for sale Blanes Sources:


A marine reserve a boat trip away from Alicante


The island of Tabarca is a natural marine reserve a short boat ride away from the city of Alicante on the Costa Blanca. For those who love nature and are looking to buy a holiday home on the Costa Blanca with easy access to natural surroundings as well as local amenities, this coast has some excellent choices. Just 11 nautical miles from Alicante, Tabarca is easily accessible by one of the organised boat trips from Alicante, Santa Pola and Benidorm. The journey only takes an hour and the journey in itself across the sea is all part of the experience of a day on this islands. Tabarca is the main island in an archipelago of islands and measures 1.8km in length and just 400 metres in width. Tabarca has its own small beach, beautifully clear waters which are perfect for snorkelling and a pretty fishing port. As you might expect on an island with plentiful access to the sea around it, the local food is largely fish-based and the traditional caldero tabarquino is served in most restaurants. A hearty fish stew served with vegetables and roast potatoes, it is best paired with a glass of chilled white wine. Although Tabarca is small, there is plenty to see and do for one day. Berber pirates used to take refuge on the island and when Genoese fisherman were held prisoner in Tabarka, Tunisia in the 18th century, King Carlos III declared that the island be fortified, creating a walled town for the families of those fisherman to live in. The walls are now a certified and protected landmark. You can learn more about the history of Tabarca at the town museum (Museo Nueva Tabarca). Entry is free of charge and perfect for those with an interest in maritime history. Shade is limited on Tabarca so if you travel there on a sunny day make sure you take some sunscreen and a hat. The beach on the island can get full in summer but if you head there at other times of the year, easily doable if you own your own home on the Costa Blanca, you can enjoy Tabarca at a slower pace. Immovario has a wide selection of holiday homes on the ever popular Costa Blanca. Contact our local agents today to arrange to view our latest properties: Sources


Still plenty to gain in Spain for post-Brexit Brits


Spain is one of the leading locations for British expats to emigrate too – in fact, it’s estimate that over 300,000 UK-born people now reside in the Spanish portion of the Iberian Peninsula. One might be forgiven for think that with Brexit that might all change. Luke Thomas of Abode2, speaks to Marc Pritchard of Taylor Wimpey about why that’s not the case. Leading Spanish home builder Taylor Wimpey España reports that the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca remain firm favourites with foreign buyers, as figures from the Association of Spanish Land Registrars show that foreigners now account for almost 13% of Spanish property purchases. Overall, the Spanish property market continues to perform strongly, with local demand and foreign demand almost neck and neck. “Foreign buyers play an important role in the Spanish property market. Right now, we're seeing both local demand and foreign buyer demand increase, which is excellent news for the health of the overall market,” says Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España, “In terms of foreign buyers, new build homes in sunny, well-established coastal areas are some of the most sought after properties.” In total, foreigners purchased some 17,338 properties in Spain in Q2 2018. Of those, 2,590 purchases were by British buyers. The next largest group of overseas buyers were the French, who purchased 1,315 Spanish homes. The figures show the importance of British buyers to the Spanish market – something which Spain is considering carefully in light of the UK's imminent departure from the EU, both from a property perspective and a tourism one. Tourism numbers and foreigners buying Spanish property tend to be interlinked. After all, the more people who visit Spain and fall in love with its culture, cuisine, beaches and more, the more there are who yearn to own property there. In the first nine months of 2018, data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) shows that 66.2 million foreign tourists visited Spain, spending 2.5% more than in the same period of 2017. In order to ensure that Spain continues to benefit from British interest, Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism Reyes Maroto has been meeting with top travel companies in order to ensure Britons can continue visiting Spain, regardless of the final terms of Brexit. It certainly seems as though British holidaymakers are unfazed by the prospect of Brexit disrupting their travel plans. Toni Mayor, president of the Hosbec Costa Blanca hoteliers association, has reported stable bookings from British tourists for 2019, despite the current lack of certainty around travel arrangements after 29 March. Explains Marc: “For both tourists and property buyers, Spain has much to offer. House prices here have risen faster than in the UK according to the latest TINSA data, meaning that Brits buying in Spain can enjoy superior potential for capital growth at present when compared to those buying in the UK.” TINSA's figures show a 5.3% increase in property prices in the year to October 2018. Both major city locations and the Mediterranean coastline are faring well, according to TINSA, with rises of 8.5% and 6.0% respectively.


Running with the bulls in Spain’s Pamplona


When thinking of Spain, thoughts wander towards tapas, sunshine, and of course, running with the bulls. Jolanda van de Streek from ImmoVario shares the thrill of summer in Pamplona with Abode2. The annual San Fermín festival in Pamplona in Spain's Navarre region isn't for the faint of heart. The festival took place over 7 days from July 7 to 14 in 2018. Six bulls who normally fight in the corridas de toros, or bullfights, run the 875 metre long course around the streets of Pamplona, with six tamed bell oxen by their sides. The bull runs take place every morning at 8am during the festival and last just a few minutes. Locals and tourists alike watch from the balconies or the street along the narrow streets. The tradition is said to have been started by butchers when bringing the bulls in for slaughter from local ranches. Young butchers would help the shepherds to herd the bulls to the town by running in front of them and of course, this eventually became a tradition in the town. Running with the bulls is open to anyone who wishes to take part and it is unlikely that any one runner can run the whole course. The distance sounds short but imagine running that with a herd of bulls running after you. The bulls plus the sheer number of other runners mean only a short distance is covered by each runner in the two to three minutes it takes the bulls to get from the starting point on Calle San Domingo to the town's bullring. When the run starts the runners, normally dressed in white with red neckerchiefs, chant in both Spanish and Basque, asking San Fermín, the patron saint of the festival to keep them safe. Once this is done, a rocket indicates the start of the run. A total of four rockets indicate the stages of the run, from the start, to the release of the bulls, arrival of the bulls at the bullring and a final rocket which indicates that it is safe to walk around the streets again. Of course, in true Spanish fiesta style, evenings and nights during the festival mean one massive party so be prepared to miss a few night's sleep if you do head to Pamplona for this one-of-a-kind festival. If you would like to go see this festival for yourself we'd recommend renting a place on one of the balconies for safe measure. The length of the course is fenced in so you can watch it from the street but to avoid any heart-stopping moments, a balcony might feel safer. You can do so via the official San Fermín website here.


Why now is the time to buy in Spain before Brexit


Brexit may still be under negotiation yet for those looking to escape to warmer climates to enjoy their winter and summer holidays or retirement, it has been found to have spurred them on in their search for a home in the sun. Increased demand across Europe Spain, Portugal, France, Malta and Cyprus have all seen increases in the number of people looking to buy before the end of 2018, just three months before the March 29th Brexit transition deadline, according to a recent article by the Financial Times. Retirement plans and pension access For retirees looking to make their pension go further with fantastic value available at the supermarkets, butchers, greengrocers or local restaurants, Spain delivers more bang for their buck on a number of levels, and as current agreements stand, UK state pensions, legal residency and healthcare arrangements are in place for UK residents who wish to move to the EU between now and the 31st December 2020. In Spain for example, the payment of a low monthly fee gives you access to an excellent healthcare system which EU citizens can enjoy under current agreements. Furthermore, as of September 2018, Britons moving to Europe can and will continue to enjoy the benefits of a UK pension payable within the European Union, with inflation-related increases. Spain remains a good place to invest Spain has recovered well from the 2008 crisis, yet it remains one of the best places in Europe in which to invest, with almost guaranteed sunshine throughout the year, established expat communities and English-speaking doctors at many public hospitals as well as in local shops. By buying a property in Spain as a retirement home or holiday home, you will have the reassurance of others who have purchased and moved there available to help with the process or with letting your home out during the periods in which you are not there. Immovario has a wide range of properties for sale in some of the most popular expat areas of Spain which have regular flights from regional UK airports to the main Spanish coastal airports such as Murcia, Alicante, Malaga and Barcelona. Check out our quick and easy offers search tool here for the regions or towns inwhere you would like to buy your home away from home. Source:


The quieter side of the white isle


Much more than just a hotspot for hedonists – Ibiza is luring a new wave of second-homer prioritising the sound of peace over heady beat partying. Laura Henderson, managing editor of Abode2, takes a walk on the quiet side When enterprising artisan Joan Mari opened his drive-up bar on the outskirts of San Carlos in the north of Ibiza in 1954, little did he know that his makeshift hangout would become a bona fide symbol of la buena vida (good life) for the entire island. Mari’s pit stop paved the way for a humble dance hall and barbecue. Business began to prosper, even in those tentative first years in which European tourism was just spreading its holiday wings. Suffice to say the seeds of a Mediterranean chill-out utopia were sown and the island has never looked back. Today, that same irrepressible freedom, colour and warmth that attracted those hippy pioneers continues to shape the island’s intimate yet cosmopolitan tourist evolution, one that happily embraces a rich UNESCO heritage: vintage landscapes, pristine whitewashed towns and hotels rurales as much as the newer addition floaty fashion, uber-glam marinas, night clubs and super-size holiday villas. But while the DJ-driven club scene remains a drawcard through the summer months – island life is being lived at an altogether more relaxed tempo by a new breed of holidaymaker - health-conscious couples and family orientated holidaymakers drawn by the easy-care ‘liveability’ of the place. Many are opting to put down permanent roots, basing themselves ‘on island’ for several months at a time where they can take advantage of a business as usual lifestyle in warmer climes. “The island is opening itself up much more as a year-round destination,” explains local agent Lars Bruun. “International schools, sports and marina facilities together with new amenity-rich hotels such as Nobu and Sir Joan are attracting on-the-go families and young professionals. Venues are also extending their opening times across island, with more of a spread of events throughout the calendar giving the island a less seasonal-centric buzz.” Improved airlift has played its part too. British Airways daily flights operate throughout the year from London City Airport, with regional UK airports offering a more comprehensive schedule with a choice of airlines including Easy Jet, Ryan Air and Jet2. Last year also saw the launch of Surf Air, a private jet service that operates between London City and Ibiza with a monthly all-you-can-fly membership fee from £1,800. Compact and bijou, the island squeezes a lot into its small surface. About half the landscape, particularly the rugged north east, is covered with dense foliage, thick pine forests and olive, fig and fruit farms, while the coastline is characterised by dozens of cosy bays, walking trails, and outof-the-way beaches. Northerly resorts such as Santa Eularia, Es Cana and Puerto de San Miguel are popular with those seeking a quieter, slower paced getaway experience, while the livelier south around Ibiza Town, Playa d’en Bossa and the party-on Mecca of San Antonio continues to capture the imagination of a younger work-hard, play-hard international crowd who don’t like to sit still. The third-biggest of the Balearic Islands, stable property values have further added to the investment appeal. Despite a debt-deflation fall-off in prices in 2012 across mainland Spain which is still in recovery mode – the property market on Ibiza remains buoyant, with four of the five island municipalities claiming the most expensive property in the region. “The real estate market has learnt to evolve,” says Bruun. “Of the 140,000 full-time island residents, approximately 26% are now from overseas. Before, the must-have luxury properties were to be found in the south and south west. Now other areas are ‘bigging up’ their selling points – each offering scope with a diverse selection of property types and price points to match. Strong fundamentals continue to underpin stability: namely a diverse pool of local and international buyers, a finite supply of quality real estate and tight building regulations.” Rental yields, with a footfall of over 2m visitors to the island every year are also delivering good returns, adds Petra Lavin of prestige agents Lavin Estates: “Summer, when the majority of property owners let, is a busy period. A well appointed villa with pool can easily achieve £6,000 per week, potentially much more for a large, luxury property.” So where are the top places to invest on the White Isle? What should buyers be looking out for? SOUTH/WEST Brimming with luxury residences and stylish mansions along with more newly constructed turnkey apartments and villas, the south west of the island hits the spot for short-break escapees and weekend commuters with easy access to Ibiza Town, the marinas and the airport. “Many properties in the area boast stunning views of Ibiza old town D’Alt Vila,” confirms Bruun, “plus you’re just minutes away from the cultural sites and leisure attractions of downtown.” NORTH/NORTH WEST The sparsely populated northwest reaches (the island’s main agricultural region), boasts a contrasting landscape of rocky outcrops, canopied forests and small-scale beach resorts. The ideal hunting ground for larger rural estates, renovation projects with conversion potential and traditional village townhouses, property prices are a good 30-40% below those in the south. “Locations to watch include Portinatx, Puerto de San Miguel and Cala San Vicente,” confirms local agent Monica Balbin. EAST/NORTH EAST A quieter stretch of the island marked by quaint villages, secluded bays and olive and fruit farms, a workaday local population means that there is life here year-round. Key areas include San Carlos and San Juan. “Property here has excellent capital yield potential thanks to much improved road access from the south,” confirms Balbin. “Larger plots are still available in quiet, rural settings, fuelling the belief that it’s less important where on the island you live these days.” For more property insights from Abode2 visit ImmoVario readers can also get 50% off Abode2 Digital Subscriptions with the code ABODE50. To find out more visit


Castles and sandcastles on the Costa Blanca


The Costa Blanca is one of Spain's most famous holiday destinations. You might have already been to Benidorm to soak up the sun, enjoyed a city break in Alicante or paella on the beach in Valencia but there's a whole host of other adventures awaiting you on this white coast. Did you know that the Costa Blanca boasts more than 170 beautiful white beaches? Did you also know that there are more than 230 castle or fortification constructions along this coastline to chill out. Beach life With 200 kilometres of coastline and 57 blue flags, you're guaranteed a great day at the beach on the Costa Blanca. From white sand to pebbles, steep cliff or dune backdrops, the beaches here just call for you to relax with friends or family. First, those white sandy beaches for those who want to switch off from the hustle and bustle of daily life on a sun lounger to the tune of waves lapping on the shore by day and the latest music by night. The northern part of the Costa Blanca is where you will find exclusive beaches in the Marina Alta area. Denia, Javea and Benissa are popular here. Benidorm in the middle has an unforgettable skyline and is the most international of the beach towns. You are guaranteed to find home comforts such as a local breakfast here! Further south you'll find beahces lined with sand dunes, such as those at Guardamar del Segura and wetlands and salt flats in Lagunas de la Mata near Torrevieja and El Hondo in Elche. Fortified positions - standing the test of time From bastions to watchtowers, lookout points to bunkers and even the church in Xábia, the Costa Blanca's prime position has been the battleground and defence point of the region's inhabitants for centuries. Spain's history of invasions from the Moors to the era of the Catholic Kings and even the Vikings cannot be seen over the course of just one holiday. From Orihuela's medina which was attacked by Vikings, Santa Barbara's castle which dates back to the Arab reign in Spain, the fortified mountain castle of the Palace of Marqués de dos Aguas, and of course the castles overlooking the sea such as Guadalest, you'll need to visit more than once to learn about their fascinating history and role in defending their respective towns over time. Looking for a house in this lovely area? Please have a look on our website to find a nice overview of property for sale in the Costa Blanca Sources