San Juan celebrations across Iberia attracting the summer crowds


The longest day of the year is fast approaching and where better than to spend the day and night than under the balmy skies of the Iberian Peninsula. Jolanda van de Streek of ImmoVario explains that Alicante is the place to be for this month's biggest festival.

Saint John's Eve, or San Juan in Spanish, is a celebration of the summer solstice, which the Spanish adapted from the existing festivals. Bonfires were traditionally lit, which is now reflected in the fireworks displays and smaller bonfires in several cities across Spain and also Portugal.

Alicante is the place to be if you want to experience San Juan on a grand scale. Known locally as Hogueras, the current tradition of setting fire to wooden and cardboard figures, like at Las Fallas in Valencia in March, began in 1928, when locals formalised a simpler tradition of enjoying a meal with friends, swimming in the sea and eating local food and enjoying local wines.

Different neighbourhoods of Alicante get in on the San Juan act with cardboard or wooden figures reflecting current trends in both Spanish and world politics and social events popping up on the streets.

These figures start appearing on the streets from the 20th June along with barracas, the tents in each neighbourhood where food and drink are served from. Figs and cocas, a tuna, onion and pine nut snack are one of the traditional foods at this time of year and can be found on most barracas.

Look out for the Beauties of Fire, or Bellesas da Foc. These ladies are chosen by each neighbourhhood commitee and wear traditional dress for the fireworks and processions which take place on a daily basis from the 19th to the 24th June. Head to Plaza de los Luceros for the best firework shows and the release of the mascletas, rockets which indicate the start of the show.

Once the clock strikes midnight on the 24th of June it is time for the crema, or burning of the figures. This is when the party really gets started, with singing, dancing and drinking taking place whilst local firefighters douse the burning figures with water as part of the banyá, or bath.

But the fiesta is not over yet. From 25 to 29 June there is a fireworks competition on El Postiguet beach, and the historic centre of the town comes alive with a medieval market and a range of shows for you to enjoy at your leisure.

To find out more visit www.immovario.com/en/

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