Murcia's festivals serve up cultural feast
Whether you love music, theatre or dance, a host of internationally renowned festivals mean the Spanish Region of Murcia is the place for lovers of the arts this summer.
Arts and culture of all descriptions will be celebrated throughout the area in the south-east of Spain during July and August.
A host of performers distinguished in their fields will be showcasing music from across the globe, theatrical skills, and traditional Spanish flamenco.
It all begins in San Javier where every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from July 6-28, leading jazz exponents from Spain and around the world will take to the stage in the internationally-recognised Festival Internacional de Jazz, with previous line-ups featuring acclaimed acts including Squeeze and Mike & the Mechanics star Paul Carrick and American band Chicago.
The musical delights continue when Cartagena hosts La Mar de Músicas from July 19-28 which will celebrate African music forms and pay special tribute to the work of Mali's renowned singer Oumou Sangare.
San Javier will again become a cultural hotspot when it stages the Festival de Teatro, Música y Danza from August 3-25. Throughout that time, a series of performances will combine a variety of art forms from classical and avant-garde theatre to modern and classical dance troupes and ethnic music as well as pieces from prestigious soloists.
As well as celebrating the wide variety of worldwide art-forms, Murcia does not forget one of Spain's most famous cultural exports - flamenco.
From August 3-8, the mining town of La Union will become the venue for Cante de Las Minas, one of the biggest events in the flamenco calendar. The 10-day festival attracts a first-class field of international competitors including singers, musicians and dancers, with world-renowned performers such as Paco de Lucia and Camarón among those who have competed for the coveted miner's lamp trophy.
Those unable to visit in early August can still take in some authentic flamenco celebration at Torre Pacheco. The small town has welcomed visitors to the popular Festival del Cante Flamenco de Lo Ferro for more than 25 years and the 2012 event takes place from August 27-September 2.
Murcia is the ideal destination for travellers to combine culture with beaches and glorious sunshine. In addition to its annual festivals, the region offers a wealth of Roman, Phoenician and Moorish history to discover, while Caravaca de la Cruz is one of only five places in the world granted Holy City status by the Pope.
As well as a Mediterranean coastline, Murcia boasts more than 30 sandy beaches on the impressive Mar Menor - Europe's largest saltwater lagoon - and enjoys more than 300 days, and 3,000 hours, of sunshine every year.
For more information on cultural festivals in the Region of Murcia visit murciaturistica.es/en.