Granada is a city steeped in Spanish history and tradition. It is where the celebrated Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquest of the country from the Moors in the 15th century, and where they chose to be buried.
But on Friday, history, culture and the city’s heritage will be put on ice as thousands of students arrive for the annual spring break party, or la Fiesta de Primavera, a drinking bash that last year attracted an estimated 25,000 people.
Those aiming to make a quick buck have already realised the money-making potential of the festivities and packages are being made available to partygoers.
According to one report, deals ranging between €10 and €15 offer packs that include access to drinks, hangover cures and condoms. At last year’s event, 45 tons of rubbish were collected during the clean-up operation.
The event’s Facebook page shows photographs of thousands of partygoers clearly enjoying themselves 12 months ago, and also the huge piles of rubbish that they left behind.
Despite the drunken revelry, police made just four arrests last year, and drinking was largely contained in the Botellodromo – an area of the city set aside for the occasion.
This year, however, the party will come to an end just over 24 hours before polls open in Andalusia’s regional elections on Sunday.
According to 20 Minutos, a Spanish daily, last year city officials commissioned hundreds of extra local police for the day, closed streets for more than 12 hours and, some businesses claim, private security companies needed to be hired.
Speaking to the El Mundo newspaper, Francisco Cuenca, a spokesman for the opposition Socialists, or PSOE, accused Granada’s mayor Jose Torres Hurtado of “promoting” the city for the event.
One mayoral candidate in the city suggested the party should be held in bars, rather than on the streets, but it is unlikely that the thousands expected to descend on the town would find enough tables at Granada’s watering holes.
The Botellodromo should become “a cultural meeting space and stop being a dunghill that generates 45 tons of trash in 12 hours”, said Mayte Olalla, from the Union Progreso y Democracia party.
Indeed, Granada seems to be an odd choice for the Fiesta de Primavera. Typically the city is more conservative than others in Spain’s south – while the PSOE runs Andalusia’s regional administration, the centre-right PP is in power in Granada.
It is however, a big student centre, and the city’s university has about 80,000 students on its books, making it the country’s fourth biggest.
The PSOE is expected to come out on top in Sunday’s regional vote, but according to some analysts are likely to see a drop in support.
“The PSOE is still likely to win the regional elections that will take place in Andalusia,” said Antonio Barroso, a senior vice president at Teneo Intelligence. “[But] it is very improbable that the Socialists will be able to obtain an absolute majority.
“This will force the Andalusian President Susana Diaz into difficult coalition negotiations. The main risk for Diaz at this stage is that a substantial number of last-minute votes from undecided voters go to [the left-wing protest party] Podemos.”Reuse content