The Festival began as a charity event held during the celebrations in honour of the patron saint, Saint Bartholomew. The parish priest, Enrique López Guerrero, sought to raise funds for the parish to cover the needs of the parish church. He proposed the organisation of a flamenco festival to Antonio Mairena, who has just won the III Llave de Oro del Cante Festival.
Antonio saw the opportunity to put into practice an idea that he had been mulling over for some time: organise a flamenco festival similar to the Seville International Festival held in 1955 in the Patio de Banderas. It would be an excellent opportunity to promote good singing among the flamenco enthusiasts and make it known to the public, who were often unaware of this artistic expression.
The first Canciones y Cante Flamenco Festival was held on 25 August 1962, which included a flamenco-singing contest for regional enthusiasts.
In 1964, Mairena del Alcor’s Town Council welcomed the proposal of the parish priest and Antonio Mairena, spearheading the organisation of the event that would be known as Festival de Cante Jondo.
In the 1970s, the Festival was incorporated into the Festivals in Spain circuit. This attracted enthusiasts from abroad to came to Mairena in search of authenticity, the Andalusian roots behind this tradition, its Fair and the art of flamenco. Mairena’s Festival became the benchmark for others, to the extent that the specialised media crowned Mairena “the capital of flamenco”.
In 1998, the Festival moved to the Casa Palacio, a more distinguished and grand venue, where it is still held today. This magnificent building conveys the purity and authenticity that is the hallmark of the Festival of Mairena.