Published Date 8/18/12 11:03 AM
The first time I went to Alicante was in June 2010, when a dear Spanish friend of mine happened to be working there for a month and told us about the San Juan Hoguera (Bonfire) festival. Upon my arrival, I immediately fell in love with the city and its people and since then have tried to be there at least once a year to enjoy this magnificent festival and the genuine hospitality of its people.
There are few cities in the world that have the perfect combination of friendly people, good weather, appealing environment, and crazy nightlife; and Alicante is certainly one of them. I am not going to bother you with the history and geographical information, for you can find a detailed description in its Wiki page. Let me tell you about the glamour of San Juan festival.
Bonfires: Beauties made to be burnt
The festival starts on the 19th of June with the exhibition of wooden figures/monuments/statues (let’s call them statues). Every city district has its own local committee and they hire artists to build up a nice statue for them. These statues usually have a political or social theme. They can be small (2 to 3 meters high) or huge (up to 20 or 30 meters). Apparently the size of the statues reflects the wealth and credibility of a district.
Mascletà: It’s gonna get loud baby!
Starting from the 19th until the 24th of June, at 2:00pm, Mascletà takes place which is a combination of small fireworks and a bombardment of firecrackers for ten minutes. The louder it gets, the more cheerful the crowd becomes! The ceremony is performed at Luceros Square near the main train station; however, it is so loud that you can hear it even if you are in the neighboring towns some twenty kilometers away. I suggest you be there at least twenty minutes before 2pm to secure a good (near!) place to watch the firecrackers and also get some free sombreros (many companies distribute free sombreros from the top of their van).
Moreover, during these five heavenly days there are open parties every night. Many of the main streets or alleys are closed with fences and turned into an open-air disco or restaurant. There are no entry fees, but understandably, you cannot bring your own drinks inside. To solve this problem of not having enough cash to spend, there are certain meeting points in the city. The younger generation (teenagers) usually gather at the beach, and the older generation (20-35) meets at the Canalejas park. Whenever they are done drinking, they go to the nearest open party place to rock and roll:
Open Parties in Alicante
Starting from the 21st of June, there are parades almost every night at 7:00pm. Poeple from different city destricts march in traditional clothes. The best parade is the International Folklore Parade on the 23rd, where many nations (mostly from the South America) have a representative and they do their own traditional dance.
Jumping over Bonfires
On the night of 23rd, one night before the burning ceremony, people gather at the beach to drink, make fire and jump over them. People are so nice that you can practically go to any group and ask them for ice or glasses or even ask for the permission to jump over their fire!
Alicante Beach, 23rd of June
La Palmera: Time to Get Wet
[to be continued, I will finish this later]