The Bonfires of Saint John (Hogueras de San Juan) is a traditional and popular festival celebrated around the world during Midsummer, which takes place on the evening of 23 June, St. John’s Eve. It is customary in many cities and towns in Spain; the largest one takes place in Alicante, where it is the most important festival in the city.
Among Christians, festival have the roots in ancient celebrations related to the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southward again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.
• The Bonfires start with the ‘Set Up’ (la plantà) when monuments, street ninots and archways to the “barraques” are set up in the streets. A pie of tuna (coca amb tonyina) and early figs (bacores) are eaten at night.
They are made of wood, cardboard, mud, paintings and, nowadays, of cork and polyurethane too. A Bonfire is not only an artistic creation, it is a critique of the societal, political and economic situation of the world in general and the city of Alicante especially.
• The mascletá takes place at 14:00. It is a combination of fireworks and a very long string of firecrackers (bangers). Place:
• At night, from 23:00 to 06:00 there are street parties in all the districts of the city. People dance and drink all night at the “racós” (sing. racó) and the “barraques” (sing. barraca).
• The Street Band Parade (Desfile de entrada de bandas) occurs at 19:00.
• At 11:30, the Prize Giving Parade (Desfile de entrega de premios) takes place
• At 19:00, the Flower Offering Parade to the Remedy’s Virgin (Ofrenda de flores a la Virgen del Remedio) takes place.
In the three parades, people wear the traditional garments from Alicante, and, in the Flower Offering, women wear mantilla and they have a bunch of flowers.
• At 21:00, the International Folklore Parade (Desfile folklórico internacional) takes place.
24 June :
• At 00:00, the Palm (firework) (La Palmera), occurs. This is a magnificent cascade of fireworks, and it is followed by the Burning (La Cremà), which is the culmination of the festival.
After 24 June, there is the Firework Display Competition (takes 4 nights) (Concurso de Castillos de Fuegos Artificiales) and the String of Firecrackers Display (Concurso de tracas) in Postiguet Beach. There are also sports events and a Medieval Street Market.
These are the busiest days in Alicante, both people from all around Spain and the tourists from all around the world come to Alicante to enjoy the festival. 24 hours fun in the city the whole week.