If you want to make sure you get a room for an unforgettable holiday enjoying one of the liveliest and spectacular festivals in Spain, book your stay at our Zafiro Menorca hotel as soon as you can.
The streets of Ciudadela overflow with people who flock from all over the world to join the locals in celebrating the day of their patron saint, San Juan (Saint John). The celebrations go on for around a week, but are centred around 5 key days, the most important of which are 23 and 24 June.
It all dates back to the middle of the fourteenth century and the organisation of pilgrimages to the parish church of Sant Joan de Missa involving a priest, a member of the nobility, two farmers and an artisan. Between the five of them they would carry out all the maintenance work at the church, collect aid and manage church property.
Nowadays the festival involves a number of rituals and events which follow a strict protocol but are also very open to visitors to take part in and enjoy. Some of the key figures in the events are the committee of caixers who represent the ancient society of Ciudadela, comprising a caixer senyor (representing the Menorcan nobility), the caixer capellà (representing the clergy), the caixer casat (a married craftsman), the caixer fradí (a bachelor craftsman) and the caixer pagès (representing the farmers). Other key figures are the riders who show off their considerable equestrian skills by making their horses rear up and walk on their hind legs for as long as they can.
You must not miss:
Everything starts on the Sunday before June 24 when the fabioler (flute player) gets things started playing the flute and beating a drum to kick off huge celebrations, music, singing and dancing from the crowds thronging the streets of Ciudadela.
On the 23rd, the day before San Juan, a cavalcade involving the fabioler and all the caixers is followed by the Caragol des Born, one of the most anticipated and spectacular events of the week in which shiny black, local horses dressed in ribbons and rosettes and their riders in traditional costume parade around the central square to the music of a live orchestra. In the afternoon, there is a hazelnut war. If you go, remember to wear old clothes because it’s unlikely you’ll keep your shirt on your back.
The 24th is the last day of the festival and things get started early in the morning with the crowds building up in the afternoon before the start of Els Jocs des Pla. These “Esplanade Games” are an amazing series of medieval games held in the harbour and attended by huge dancing and singing crowds who jostle for a place to watch one of the most beautiful and remarkable events of the week.
Another thing you have to try is the most popular drink on the island, la pomada, a mixture of Menorcan Xoriguer gin and lemonade served very, very cold.
Events come to an end with the final notes from the fabiol, accompanied by shouts of "fins l'any qui ve, si Deu vol", (until next year, God willing). If you ever visit Ciudadela, you will definitely want to come back year after year.