When you go on holiday to Menorca, there is one tradition that you should not miss: the town festival! And if your idea of a fiesta is a kitschy event organised just for the benefit of the tourists, you might be in for a big surprise.
A time-honored tradition
This beautiful island in the Balearic Islands is known for its traditional summer festivals, which has led to the false notion that many of these are tourist events organised for the benefit of visitors during their holidays in Menorca. In reality, these festivals, which take place in the different towns on the island on different dates depending on their patron saints, have their origins in the 14th century. The Andalusian and Arabian horses that are the ancestors of the Menorcan horse are often a big part of the town’s celebrations. The Menorcan horse is a lively, imposing, slender but strong jet-black native animal.
A typical feast you might see starts the afternoon before the feast day of the town’s patron saint, starting with horses and their riders, often led by a Fabioler (or herald) on a donkey, parading through the streets before going to church, culminating in a mass. In the evenings, there is often live music and traditional folk dancing, after which a beautiful fireworks display ends the party around midnight.
Catalonia: Catalan National Day
In January, the feast of Sant Antoni Abat, the island’s national patron saint, is not only a celebration but also one of the official holidays in Menorca. Banks, businesses, and shops are closed on this day, and special church services are held in honour of Sant Antoni, where people bring their animals to be blessed. Public torradas, which are traditional sausage-and-bread barbecues, are held in the different towns of the island the night before. Often, there is music and dancing in the streets.
Ciutadella’s Feasts of Saint John
The three-day ‘Festes de Sant Joan’, held annually in Ciutadella, is one of the most popular celebrations that visitors see during holidays in Menorca. On the first day, a man parades through the local streets with a sheep on his shoulders, and in the evening the main streets are closed for bonfire parties.
On the second day, the black Menorcan horses, dressed for the occasion in ribbons and rosettes and ridden by caixers, parade through the streets and are encouraged to stand on their hind legs. Brave people often run under them while doing so.
On the third day, a great spectacle awaits visitors: an intense competition, similar to jousting, in which a hanging ring with a lance is pierced at considerable speed. The festivities conclude with a fireworks show.
Although not strictly a party, the fun tradition of “El Caramelero,” or the Tree of Sweets, is an interesting event to experience, especially for families with children. Every year on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, children plant a tree branch in a pot and water it with a mixture of water and sugar. The next morning, the branch is then loaded with candies, which they carry through the city during the Palm Sunday procession.
Brenda Jaaback is the general manager of Bartle Holidays. They can provide you with a wide selection of beautiful villas for your holidays in Menorca. Bartle Holidays doesn’t promise that the information in this article is correct and doesn’t take any responsibility for the information.