Art and Culture Guide Marbella

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Pia Arrieta DM Properties
23 minutes to read

One of the joys of life in Marbella is that it is a vibrant, year-round city. Where many summer resorts become quiet and close in the winter, Marbella and surrounding towns and villages are almost as lively as they are during peak holiday season.

This is in part due to the rich culture of the area, where there continue to be attractions to see and do throughout the year. Summer serves up a host of activities such as the Starlite Festival that attracts top performers from around the globe, while winter is a time for museum visits, theatre trips and wanders around fascinating art galleries.

Below you will find a comprehensive guide as to what is to be found currently in Marbella, however, be sure to check local press as there are plenty of activities and venues that stage one-off entertainment of a very high quality. So, whether you're an art aficionado, a theatre enthusiast, or a music lover, Marbella's diverse cultural offerings promise to captivate and inspire. Join us as we delve into the heart of Marbella's artistic and cultural landscape, uncovering the hidden gems that make this city a cultural haven on the Mediterranean coast.

Dates for the Diary

Marbella is so much more than beaches and gourmet dining experiences, although these are also terrific. With a rich cultural scene, there is much to captivate those who are looking for more varied forms of entertainment. With this in mind, we’ve put together a calendar of cultural highlights not to be missed throughout the year in Marbella.

Semana Santa (Holy Week):
Semana Santa (Holy Week), Marbella

  • Date: Typically, in March or April, depending on Easter.
  • Description: Semana Santa is a solemn and deeply religious celebration leading up to Easter Sunday. It features daily processions with ornate floats, representing scenes from the Passion of Christ. The processions are accompanied by traditional music and followed by religious ceremonies. It's a significant cultural event that attracts both locals and visitors.

Feria de San Bernabé (Marbella Fair):

  • Date: Early June.
  • Description: Marbella's most prominent festival, the Feria de San Bernabé, is a week-long celebration of Andalucian culture. It features lively music, dance performances, traditional costumes, and a fairground with rides and attractions. The fair culminates in a spectacular fireworks display.

Festival de la Luna Mora:

  • Date: August.
  • Description: Held in the charming town of Guaro, a short drive from Marbella, the Festival de la Luna Mora celebrates the region's Moorish heritage. The town is transformed with lantern-lit streets, live music, dance performances, and a bustling artisan market. It's a magical experience that transports visitors back in time.

Feria de Málaga:

  • Date: Mid-August.
  • Description: While not in Marbella, the Feria de Málaga is one of the largest and most vibrant festivals in the Costa del Sol region. The city of Málaga, a short distance from Marbella, comes alive with music, dance, and cultural activities. It includes a massive fairground, parades, and a dazzling firework show.

Marbella Jazz Festival:

  • Date: Usually in August.
  • Description: Jazz enthusiasts flock to the city to enjoy the Marbella Jazz Festival, featuring both local and international jazz musicians. It's a fantastic opportunity to appreciate live jazz performances in a relaxed and scenic setting.

Festival de Cante Grande (Flamenco Festival):

  • Date: Various times throughout the year.
  • Description: Marbella hosts several Flamenco festivals, celebrating this passionate and traditional Spanish art form. These events feature Flamenco music, dance performances, and singing, providing an authentic experience of Andalusian culture.

La Noche en Blanco (White Night):

  • Date: Typically in September.
  • Description: La Noche en Blanco is a cultural event that transforms Marbella into a hub of artistic expression. It includes art exhibitions, concerts, dance performances, and cultural activities throughout the night, creating a vibrant and creative atmosphere.

Romería de San Bernabé:

  • Date: June.
  • Description: In June, locals in Marbella participate in the Romería de San Bernabé, a colourful and traditional pilgrimage to the hermitage of San Bernabé. Participants dress in traditional attire, and the procession is a vibrant display of local culture and devotion.

Marbella International Film Festival (MIFF)

  • Date: October
  • Description: One of the highlights of Marbella's cultural calendar, showcasing an impressive array of international cinema. Held annually, this festival features a diverse selection of films, including both shorts and features, from emerging talents and seasoned filmmakers.

Attendees can expect glamorous events such as film screenings, networking opportunities, and the much-anticipated Gala Awards Ceremony. Set against the backdrop of Marbella's stunning scenery, MIFF offers a unique blend of cinematic discovery and social engagement, drawing filmmakers, industry professionals, celebrities, and film enthusiasts from around the globe.

For more information, including event schedules, ticketing, and submission guidelines, you can visit the official Marbella International Film Festival website at Marbella Film Festival.

Christmas and New Year's Celebrations:

  • Date: December.
  • Description: Marbella and the Costa del Sol region come alive during the holiday season with festive lights, Christmas markets, and special events. The New Year's Eve celebration includes the famous Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for good luck in the coming year.
  • Christmas program

Avenida del Mar

Avenida del Mar, Marbella
The Avenida del Mar is the scenic walkway that leads from the lush garden in the centre of Marbella, Alameida Park and is adorned with palm trees and bronze replicas of Salvador Dalí sculptures, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and artistic charm. Connecting the Old Town to the seafront, it’s a fascinating open-air museum. This is not the only place that Dalí’s work can be found, with a three-ton piece donated by a local businessman in honour of the great artist’s centenary greeting visitors at the entrance to Puerto Banús. The Rhinoceros Dressed in Lace is beloved by locals and has been on permanent display since 2004.

Art Galleries

Isolina Arbulu Gallery

Isolina Arbulu Gallery, Marbella
Isolina Arbulu Gallery in Marbella, Spain, emphasises contemporary art as a world reflection and boasts carefully curated exhibitions since its 2019 inception. Committed to the female perspective and Spanish art, especially from Andalucia, it also maintains links to South American art. The gallery, integrated with an architecture studio, features spaces for diverse artistic mediums. Representing 16 acclaimed and emerging artists, it showcases talent in painting, photography, sculpture, and more, aiming to inspire and transform through art.

The gallery opens from 10 AM to 2 PM, Monday through Friday. Visits during afternoons and Saturdays are available by appointment only.

Contact Details:

Ralli Museum

This museum, situated in the Urb. Coral Beach, is renowned for its impressive collection of Latin American art alongside contemporary European artists. Works on display include pieces by Chagall, Miró and Wilfredo Lam of Cuba, amongst many others. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM – 3 PM.

Contact details:

Reiners Contemporary Art Gallery

Reiners Contemporary Art Gallery, Marbella
Located in the Sierra Blanca neighbourhood, this gallery features a diverse range of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media. Founded in 2019 in Marbella it emphasises works by Brazilian, German, and Andalucian artists, fostering a multicultural dialogue between Europe and Latin America. The gallery, nestled in a greenery-enveloped estate, is dedicated to the development of its artists, hosting artist-in-residence programs and curated exhibitions. Reiners Contemporary Art is a vibrant cultural space that contributes to Marbella's rich artistic scene, deeply rooted in the diverse historical influences of the Mediterranean region. It's open from Tuesday to Friday, 11 AM – 4 PM.

Contact details:

Es.Arte Gallery

Es.Arte Gallery in Marbella is a contemporary art space dedicated to showcasing the unique visions and narratives of artists without external interference. Located near Puerto Banús, the gallery offers a regular schedule of individual and collective exhibitions, selected through professional criteria and dialogues with the artists. It has a diverse gallery collection, viewable on their online sales page. Es.Arte Gallery provides a sensory laboratory where the artistic proposals of each creator extend beyond immediate contexts, delving into the realm of imagination.

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Fornara Gallery

Situated in Puerto Banús, this gallery is known for exhibiting works by emerging artists. Fornara Gallery was established in 1964 and is a prestigious art space dedicated to promoting both young talents and established artists. With a commitment to discovering emerging artists with significant skills, the gallery has played a crucial role in introducing them to the international art scene. Fornara Gallery strives to make art accessible to a wide range of collectors, offering an opportunity to invest in beauty for the future. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10 AM – 2 PM and 4 PM – 8 PM, and on Saturday from 10 AM – 2 PM.

Contact details:

Sholeh Abghari Contemporary Art Gallery

The Sholeh Abghari Contemporary Art Gallery in Marbella stands as a beacon in the art community, uniquely committed to fostering and spotlighting the works of both renowned and rising artists from the Middle East and around the world. Renowned for its meticulous selection of groundbreaking artworks that are integral to significant collections and global art events, the gallery is a cultural hub that draws upon the rich heritage of Andalucía. Housing masterpieces by illustrious artists like Picasso, it has distinguished itself as the first true contemporary art gallery in Marbella, reshaping the landscape of modern art display and promotion.

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Arte by Leyton

Arte by Leyton Art Gallery, nestled between Marbella and Estepona, is a vibrant cultural space dedicated to art and creativity. It offers 650 square meters of exhibition area for contemporary art, embracing various artistic forms without censorship. The gallery is a hub for artists, collectors, curators, and art lovers, providing a permanent display space for local artists and featuring a diverse range of styles, including abstract contemporary, figurative, impressionism, and Pop Art. Beyond visual arts, it hosts a variety of social and cultural events, making it a key player in the artistic and cultural scene of the Western Costa del Sol. Arte by Leyton, with its commitment to showcasing both local and international artists, embodies the ethos of expressing and immortalising feelings through art.

Contact details:

Sammer Gallery

Sammer Gallery in Marbella is a renowned art space that has been a part of the city's cultural landscape for over 30 years. Established by Sam Benady, the gallery initially specialised in 19th-century European paintings, particularly Orientalist pictures, before expanding its focus to contemporary art. Located in Puerto Banús, the gallery is known for its emphasis on contemporary paintings, mostly of Spanish origin, and also features sculptures. It is conveniently situated just off the Plaza Antonio Banderas in Puerto Banús, offering easy accessibility and a spacious environment for art lovers​​.

Contact details:

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Museums

Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo (Museum of Spanish Contemporary Engravings)

Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo (Museum of Spanish Contemporary Engravings)
The Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, located in Marbella, is a remarkable institution dedicated to showcasing the best of contemporary Spanish engravings and graphic works. Housed in the historic Hospital Bazán, a 16th-century building adorned with Gothic, Mudéjar, and Renaissance elements, the museum presents an impressive array of artworks by renowned artists like Dali, Miro, Picasso, and Tapies. These include a variety of artistic expressions such as etchings, lithographs, and xylography. The museum's setting in the old hospital adds to its charm, offering visitors a unique blend of art and history. As the first museum of its kind in Spain, it stands as a testament to the rich artistic heritage of the country and the evolving nature of contemporary art. Opening hours are Monday to Friday: 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Contact details:

Cortijo Miraflores Cultural Centre

Cortijo Miraflores Cultural Centre
The Cortijo Miraflores Cultural Centre, dating back to 1704, is a historic gem in Marbella. Originally an agricultural estate with a sugar mill and an animal traction-operated olive oil mill, it was expanded in 1756 and further enhanced in 1850 with exotic species in its gardens. Today, this centre is a cultural beacon, housing the Olive Oil Museum and the Historical Fund of the Municipal Archive. It also features a library, an art gallery, and an exhibition hall, hosting various cultural events and exhibitions.

Contact details:

  • Address: Avenida Jose Luis Morales y Marin, s/n, 29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
  • Telephone: +34 952 90 27 14

For more information, including upcoming events and exhibitions, visit the Marbella tourism website at turismo.marbella.es.

Performing Arts Center La Alcoholera (El Ingenio)

La Alcoholera in the Ingenio district of San Pedro Alcántara is a cultural centre that was originally a 19th-century sugar factory established by the Marquis del Duero. Today, it houses a museum dedicated to the history of San Pedro Alcántara, including the history of the sugar mill and archaeological sites. Visits to the museum are free, and it is open to the public for guided tours, especially for groups. Hours are Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00 h. and from 17:00 to 20:00 h.

Contact details:

  • Address: C/ La Morena s/n, 29670 San Pedro Alcántara, Marbella
  • Telephone: +34 952 768 767

For more detailed information about La Alcoholera, including its history and current activities, visit the Marbella city website: Centro de Artes Escénicas La Alcoholera (El Ingenio).

Museo del Bonsai (Bonsai Museum)

Situated in Parque Arroyo de la Represa, this museum is dedicated to bonsai trees, housing one of the largest collections in Europe. The Bonsai Museum in Marbella is one of the best in Europe, famous for its extensive collection of wild olive trees. Visitors are impressed by the variety of specimens, including a striking 300-year-old wild olive tree and a Chinese hackberry. The museum also displays native species from the surrounding area, like the endangered Spanish fir trees, showcasing these bonsais as true art forms. Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 10:30 am. to 1:30 pm. and from 3:15 pm. to 7:30 pm. July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 am. to 1:30 pm. and from 4.30 pm. to 8 pm.

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Prehistoric Necropolis of Corominas

The Necropolis Prehistórica de Corominas in Estepona is a significant archaeological site discovered during an environmental impact study for a toll highway. Excavations between 2001 and 2002 unearthed a 5,000-year-old megalithic necropolis with well-preserved tombs and Bell Beaker period burials. The site's unique findings were moved to a specially designed underground exhibition centre in Parque de los Pedregales. This centre features a reconstructed topography of the original site, displaying the dolmens and artefacts like ceramic vessels, stone tools, and personal ornaments, including beads and seashells.

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Mirador del Carmen, Estepona

A new building that rises over the beachside promenade of Estepona, it is a space conceived to be a prominent cultural centre and encompasses a library, music conservatory, auditorium for events, exhibition hall, and a lookout tower. This multifaceted facility offers panoramic views of the city and the Mediterranean, enhancing Estepona's cultural and artistic landscape. The centre is notable for its modernist architecture and diverse socio-cultural spaces, including an internationally renowned art collection and various educational and recreational areas.

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Venues and Exhibition Halls

Salón Varietés

A little further along the coast from Marbella in the heart of Fuengirola, the Salón Varietés Theatre is a distinguished cultural institution with a storied legacy dating back to its establishment in 1925. Originally conceived as a theatre and subsequently repurposed as a cinema in 1956, it underwent a remarkable renaissance in 1985, orchestrated by a dedicated team of British theatre lovers. Today, it stands as the preeminent venue for engrossing live English-speaking performances on the Costa del Sol, offering a diverse repertoire spanning musicals to comedies. This achievement owes its success to a cadre of devoted volunteers, accomplished performers, and steadfast patrons.

Operated as a non-profit entity, the theatre relies on memberships and the invaluable contributions of volunteers. As it marked its 38th anniversary in June 2023, the Salón Varietés Theatre remains a testament to its unwavering commitment to excellence and its esteemed position within the heart of Fuengirola.

Contact details:

Castillo Sohail

The Sohail Castle in Fuengirola is a renowned venue for concerts and cultural events. This historic castle, with its unique architecture and panoramic views with the dramatic stage backdrop overlooking the sea, offers an exceptional setting for various performances and festivals. Known for its outdoor space, it provides an atmospheric and memorable experience for concert-goers. The venue is a popular choice for both local and international acts, adding a touch of historical charm to every event.

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Starlite Occidente

Starlite Festival, Marbella
Starlite Marbella is an exclusive boutique festival held annually in Marbella, Spain and now into its 11th year. Renowned for its unique and intimate atmosphere, this festival offers a combination of music, culture, and gastronomy. Set in a natural amphitheatre in the hills above Marbella and surrounded by nature, Starlite provides an unparalleled experience where attendees can enjoy concerts, fashion shows, art exhibitions, and gourmet dining under the stars. It's a unique gathering that brings together international artists and celebrities, making it a standout event in the global cultural calendar.

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Teatro Ciudad de Marbella

The Teatro Ciudad de Marbella, a municipal-owned theatre located in the city of Marbella, Málaga, Spain, stands as a cultural beacon since its inauguration in July 2001. This venue has become a hub for a variety of artistic expressions, consistently hosting an array of performances ranging from theatre and music to dance, flamenco, and opera. With a seating capacity of 480, it offers an intimate yet vibrant setting for both performers and audiences. Additionally, the theatre is noted for hosting the annual Festival Internacional de Ópera de Marbella, a significant event in the cultural calendar of the city, showcasing international opera talents and productions.

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Palacio de Congresos Marbella

Conveniently located close to the centre of Marbella yet just 35 minutes from the international airport in Málaga, the Palacio de Ferias y Congresos de Marbella is a state-of-the-art venue for events such as congresses, trade fairs, and exhibitions. It offers a large auditorium with 1,520 seats and an exhibition hall of 3,112 square meters within its 10,000 square meter area. The venue caters to various needs with high-quality services and amenities, making it ideal for both business and cultural events.

Teatro Auditorio Felipe VI (TAF)

The Teatro Auditorio Felipe VI (TAF) in Estepona is one of Spain's most modern and contemporary cultural spaces. Designed by architect Luis Machuca Santa-Cruz and established in 2015, TAF Estepona offers a variety of venues within its premises. These include a main auditorium with a capacity for 600 people and a stage of 225 square meters, suitable for a diverse range of performances like musicals, plays, dance, and opera. There's also a smaller, more intimate 100-seat venue for special events, a vestibule that can accommodate 400 people, and an outdoor stage known as the Garden TAF for live performances on weekends and holidays.

TAF Estepona hosts a wide array of cultural activities, including theatre, music, dance, opera, and humour. They also offer an online programming option where you can enjoy theatre from the comfort of your home. This feature includes various genres like musicals, dance, and opera, accessible through various online platforms.

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Discover Málaga

While Marbella and the surrounding areas have so much to recommend them, sometimes it’s refreshing to have a day – or a weekend – away to take in new sights and scenery. Málaga, once only known for its airport as people rushed to get away to the coastal resorts, has become a destination in its own right over recent years.

With the redeveloped port, a revived, cobblestoned centre and the nickname ‘City of Museums,’ it is now in the top five most visited cities in Spain and offers a treasure trove of cultural and historical experiences.

The birthplace of Pablo Picasso, it is home to the renowned Museo Picasso, now in a new, bigger location which houses an extensive collection of his works, offering an exploration into the artist's life and evolution. Another artistic gem is the Museo Carmen Thyssen, showcasing an impressive array of 19th-century Spanish paintings, while you can take a fascinating stroll through Málaga’s history at the Museum of Málaga in the beautiful ex-customs building, the Palacio de Aduana.
Museo Picasso Málaga

For theatre enthusiasts, Málaga boasts two prominent venues: Teatro Cervantes, the main theatre for performing arts, and Teatro Soho, owned by another famous son of Málaga, Antonio Banderas, who has produced successful Broadway musicals here that have proved extremely popular.

In the heart of Málaga, the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (CAC Málaga) emerges as a vibrant hub for contemporary art. Housed in a historic building, transformed from its original 1939 market structure, CAC Málaga has become a dynamic space for modern art since 2003. It showcases a rich tapestry of contemporary works, featuring international artists across various genres, making it a cornerstone of modern artistic expression in the city.

Nearby, La Térmica stands as a contemporary cultural beacon. Established in 2013, it redefines cultural engagement, blending creation, learning, and leisure. La Térmica is a melting pot of artistic disciplines, hosting an array of events from live music to conferences, appealing to diverse audiences and integrating alternative cultural perspectives.

Complementing these is the Centre Pompidou Málaga, an offshoot of the Parisian institution, which opened its doors in 2015. Located in the striking edifice by the redeveloped docks, 'El Cubo', this centre is a fusion of global art and local culture, presenting a selection of masterpieces alongside a multidisciplinary program. It's a cultural laboratory, aiming to bridge the gap between society and contemporary art, making it accessible to all.
Centre Pompidou Málaga

A journey through Málaga's history would be incomplete without a visit to its Roman Amphitheatre, the city's oldest monument dating back to the 1st century BC. Rediscovered in 1951, this ancient edifice has been lovingly restored, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the grandeur of Málaga's Roman past.

Perched on the hill that encircles Málaga, the Castillo de Gibralfaro offers a fascinating view of both the city's medieval history. Dating back to the 10th century, this fortress offers breathtaking panoramic views of Málaga and the Mediterranean Sea. Nearby, the Alcazaba, a Moorish palace-fortress, beckons history enthusiasts with its intricate architecture and historical significance.

For those with a musical inclination, the Museo Interactivo de la Música Málaga (MIMMA) offers an interactive experience. This museum allows visitors to not only learn about the history of music but also to engage hands-on with various musical instruments.

Wine enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the Museo del Vino Málaga. This museum delves into the rich winemaking tradition of the Málaga region and includes wine tastings.

For nature lovers, La Concepción Historical-Botanical Gardens are a must-visit. These 19th-century gardens boast a vast collection of tropical and subtropical flora, alongside historic buildings and exquisite sculptures.
Alongside these cultural landmarks, Málaga's lively streets, adorned with traditional tapas bars and eclectic shops, create an inviting atmosphere for both locals and tourists. Whether you're an art aficionado, a history buff, or simply in search of a vibrant city experience, Málaga offers a perfect blend of history, art, and modern urban charm.

Pia Arrieta, 08 May 2024 - Lifestyle

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