Star Spotting in the Sunshine

Family Fun

Colin Farrell caused quite a stir in the city for the film Triage

Making movies in Alicante

Alicante and the Costa Blanca are famous for many things - beautiful beaches, fine food and wine, golf courses - but did you know it has a thriving film industry? The lovely Penelope Cruz, Rhys Ifans, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell are among the many stars who have made movies at the Alicante film studios, Ciudad de la Luz (City of Light). So, if you're looking for things to do in Alicante, how about looking out for some celebs?

As well as a great opportunity for some star spotting in and around Alicante, the film industry has provided a welcome financial boost to the region. The industry has brought in €174 million, provided work for 4,700 people, boosted other industries with knock-on work and helped the hotel trade by booking 150,000 overnight stays since it opened in 2005.

Shooting stars

You never know, you may see a Hollywood or British superstar when you book a holiday in Alicante. When dining out in the nearby restaurants, take a look around you to see if you spot any familiar faces from the silver screen. One of the most famous British stars to be seen out and about in Alicante was Rhys Ifans, who shot to fame as Spike in the film Notting Hill. Rhys was in Spain to play Howard Marks, one of the world's biggest drug dealers, in the film Mr Nice. He was regularly seen in Alicante's restaurants and bars during the shooting.

Half of the film was shot in Wales where strict smoking laws meant it was illegal to spark up on a film set. Luckily, at the time, it was fine to smoke on the set in Spain so the smoking close-ups had to be shot in Alicante. More recently Ewan McGregor was in town to shoot The Impossible about the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand. A huge water tank was built at the Alicante Ciudad de la Luz studios to recreate the scenes where the massive tidal wave hits the shores. Ewan McGregor and Australian actress Naomi Watts spent several days in the city in 2010.

Colin Farrell also caused quite a stir in the city for the film Triage, an Irish/European thriller. Not only was Mr Farrell in town but he had about 40 Irish film crew in tow. Irish producer Alan Moloney said the script worked well in Dublin and Spain for filming and financial reasons. The film is set in both Kurdistan and Dublin and Moloney felt that Spain did not look unlike Kurdistan! He also pointed out that the Valencian government had invested millions of euros into the studio.

Madge in the Benidorm TV comedyMadge in the Benidorm TV comedyHenry Cavill caused a stir in MorairaHenry Cavill caused a stir in MorairaBenidorm TV series was filmed in the Hotel PelicanosBenidorm TV series was filmed in the Hotel Pelicanos

Hurrah for Hollywood

The action thriller The Cold Light of Day, starring Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver, was set and filmed entirely in Spain. It was shot in the Valencia region and Madrid over 10 weeks as well as several weeks' work in Ciudad de la Luz studios. The film revolves around a young American whose family is kidnapped while on a Spanish holiday. One scene was also shot in Moraira, where the handsome Henry Cavill (The Tudors, Midsomer Murders) caused quite a stir. Look closely and you will also see Javea featuring in the film.

The delectable Richard Dreyfuss starred in the romantic comedy Driving Aphrodite where some filming took place in Guadalest, Javea and Alicante. Penelope Cruz, her sister Monica, Gerard Depardieu and Alain Delon are other famous names who have been spotted filming in and around Alicante.

Benidorm raises a laugh

Benidorm has become a positive mecca for British stars.For the past few years, Benidorm has been the setting for a British TV comedy series of the same name, which takes a look at the stereotypical working-class Brit on holiday. It is set in the fictional all-inclusive Solana Resort (in fact, it is really the Hotel Sol Pelicanos Ocas, near Playa Levante - you'll recognise the pool!). Johnny Vegas starred in the early series and was a familiar face in and around Benidorm. More recently Tim Healy, Hugh Sachs, Paul Bazely and Sheila Reid starred. Sheila plays the groaning granny Madge, who travels around Benidorm on her mobility scooter. Does she remind you of anyone you know or have seen zipping around the resort?

Visitors to Benidorm will also recognise Morgan's Tavern which doubled as the Neptune Bar in the series. Many expats also played extras in the series. Millions are glued to the set for the series and a cameo from Cilla Black helped the sitcom reach more than 7 million viewers at the start of the fourth series. The new series is due to be shown on ITV very soon. See how many places and faces you can recognise.

City of Light film studios in AlicanteCity of Light film studios in AlicanteEwan McGregor filming The ImpossibleEwan McGregor filming The Impossible