|Agost Dances of the Moor Kings, Alicante, Spain.|
|A tourist and holiday guide to the best places to visit in Alicante, Spain.|
| Agost Dances of the Moor Kings, Alicante|
Agost Dances of the Moor Kings
26th December to 1st JanuaryTraditional FiestaThese are the most important fiestas of this town. The fiesta is organised by the Danseros (Dancers - 18-year-old youths) who, dressed up in a suit and hat and accompanied by the dolçaina and the tabalet, come round every afternoon to pick up the girl dancers to go and dance in the Town Hall square. This dance takes place every day (except on 31st December) from 26th December to 1st January around about 5:30pm. The most relevant events are the Serenata a la Reina Mora (Moor Queen Serenade) and the Noche de los Cohetes (Rocket Night - on the evening of 27th December), the Day of the Moor King (28th December) and the entrance of the Naranjeros who are the 17-year-old youths who will be the Danseros the following year (on 1st January).
Located in the middle of the Costa Blanca, Alicante is one most important tourist destinations in the Spanish east coast. The many golf courses, along with the tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea, are part of the appeal of this beautiful harbour city, which sits at the foot of the Castle of Santa Barbara, a silent witness to the numerous civilisations to have settled here.
The historic quarter, at the foot of this fortress, conceals an interesting religious and civil architectural legacy, including the emblematic Explanada de España (Spain boulevard), a traditional recreational area to the local residents.
Alicante is also a land of deeply-rooted traditions, such as the Moors and Christians festivities and the Night of San Juan. When it comes to Alicante's delicious cuisine, rice takes the central stage, cooked in a million different ways.Alicante's strategic location, right on the east coast, led to the settlement of the main Mediterranean civilisations over the centuries. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and later Arabs reached this coast in search of new trading routes, while at the same time contributing to the city's character.
The city and its harbour are flanked by the Benacantil mountain, a rocky promontory crowned by the Santa Barbara fortress. Of Arab origin, the castle bears the marks of all the different peoples that the city has sheltered, although a good part of the present building only dates back to the 16th century. From the top of the old walls you have a commanding view of the whole city, while enjoying the impressive coastline and many kilometres of the beautiful countryside.
The old walled city was built at the foot of this fortress. One of the most attractive buildings in this network of narrow streets and alleyways is the Gothic church of Santa María (16th century), built on top of an old Arab mosque. Across from the church is the Casa de la Asegurada Museum (17th century), which has an important collection of contemporary art, with artists of the stature of Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Eduardo Chillida.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento (the city-council square), dominated by the Baroque façade of the Town Hall, is another of the significant spots of the old quarter. Behind it there are two relevant buildings, the Academy of the Society of Jesus and the procathedral of Saint Nicholas, finished in 1662. Herrera and Baroque styles are mixed in this temple, the interior of which conceals a beautiful fifteenth century cloister.
The coastline is, without a doubt, the favourite recreational spot for the people of Alicante. The Explanada de España promenade, located across from the port, is a lively boulevard dotted with terraces and pavement cafés. A more modern leisure area extends along the port's breakwater, where there are also many bars and restaurants. Next to both of these is the urban beach of El Postiguet, a privileged spot for enjoying the sea and the sun.
It is worth a visit to the recently refurbished Provincial Archaeological Museum (MARQ). Located on the premises of the old San Juan de Dios hospital, the Museum exhibits, in an educational and engaging way, the remains of the archaeological site of Tossal de Manises, which unveils interesting facts about the ancient city during the times of the Iberians, Greeksand Romans.
Culture, gastronomy and the outskirts
Alicante is also a land of deeply-rooted traditions, such as the Moors and Christians festivities, the most popular in Levante. The other fiesta par excellence is Noche de San Juan (the Night of Saint John) on the 24th of June. The main features of this festivity are the bonfires. As a tradition, ninots (papier-mâché effigies or rag dolls), which had been exhibited on the street of the capital city during the previous days, are burned at the stake on this night.
The liveliness of Alicante continues all throughout the year, this city being a great tourist centre. Part of the reason for this is certainly its proximity to the beaches of San Juan, located only a few kilometres awayand the charming towns of Santa Pola, Torrevieja, Altea, Denia, etc. It is possible to find a wide range of accommodation in any of them. Worth mentioning is the Parador de Jávea (Javea Inn), located in this gorgeous city, north of the Costa Blanca.
In addition, along the coastline of Alicante are a dozen golf course with excellent views to the Mediterranean for the enjoyment of the enthusiasts of this sport.
In Alicante there are numerous natural treasures that are very much worth a visit. Midway between Alcoi and Ibi, in Sierra of Menejador, is the Carrascal de la Font Roja Nature Reserve. Also of great environmental importance are the Nature Reserves of El Fondo, Mata and Torrevieja Lagoons, Montgó, Penyal d’Ifac, Santa Pola Salt Marshes and the Pego-Oliva Fen. In the interior of the province lies the city of Elche and its palm tree grove, declared World Heritage.
However the visit would not be complete without trying the delicious rice dishes, cooked in many different, original ways around these parts: arroz a banda (rice with fish), arroz negro ("black rice", with cuttlefish), arroz al horno (baked rice), etc. Seafood is also incomparable. For dessert, nothing beats pan de higo (fig bread, a paste made of dried figs), turrón (a sweet similar to nougat, made of toasted almonds, honey and sugar) and Jijona ice cream. These dishes go very well with wines with Designation of Origin-Alicante, the prestigious seal of quality and origin, given in Spain to select wines and products and among which Fondillón stands out, an old fruit liqueur, excellent for dessert. Located amid picturesque mountains on the eastern Costa Blanca region, Alicante is an exceptional tourist destination, brimming with stunning attractions such as historic places, exquisite beaches and vibrant shopping streets. Alicante also boasts one of the only international airports in the region, which is regarded as a quick gateway to the whole Costa Blanca region. Besides, Alicante is only a short drive from such popular places as Malaga, Murcia, Valencia, and Benidorm.
Experience the magic of the evening of San Juan
On the evening of the 23rd come to the Region of Valencia seashore and participate in the magical, festive and open to everyone sense of Mediterranean culture.
The origins of the celebrations of the shortest night of the year, the 23rd June, the eve of the feast of San Juan, are lost in the night of all ages of the different cultures that have populated the Mediterranean. As a pagan festivity that worshipped the arrival of the summer solstice by lighting bonfires on the seashore the Catholic tradition integrated it into the feast of San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist), which is celebrated on 24th June.
Since days of old this custom has been kept alive, as a magic ritual, which is carried out every night of San Juan; thousands of people travel to the beaches or seashore to spend a pleasant and festive evening in the company of family and friends. Bonfires are lit all around the sands making an attractive and seductive image, and around them numerous groups gather to chat, sing, dance and to enjoy the evening. Likewise, numerous quarters and popular associations in Alicante, Castellón and Valencia celebrate verbenas (open-air celebration held on the eve of a saint's day) and other festive events on this night.
And when midnight arrives, as a rite handed down from fathers to sons for generations, one has to go to the shoreline and to wet one's feet or to jump a specific number of waves - something to do with the occult and the magical quality of the unknown - while at the same time making one or various wishes, which the arrival of the new season will allow us to see fulfilled.
On this night the door is opened that introduces us to the knowledge of the future and to the magical dimensions of reality. It is the night when the buried burn, the Devil is on the loose and the fields are blessed by John the Baptist, it is also the night when one can believe all kinds of fantastic legends; it is best to open one's mind and spirit, to stop being rational and to fully delight in the imagination and tradition, this formula is exceedingly healthy. EasterEaster, Semana Santa, in Alicante has, besides the quality of its beauty, a distinctive touch of its own. The rich combination of saeta singing (Flamenco laments on Christ's passion), the presence of manolas (women wearing a back comb and mantilla), brass bands where the bugle and drum instil a solemn gravity to the scene and stylish and sombre banners accompany and enhance the visual impact of the embellished floats which sway impressively thanks to the skill of the costaleros (bearers). Each brotherhoods' procession of floats, banners and musicians are escorted by lines of penitents in robes with their own particular solemn colours of pain.
The different acts announcing the coming of Easter such as the via crucis (Stations of the Cross), concerts, exhibitions or rehearsals with the floats, give way to the solemn celebration with the Pregón (opening speech) held at the city's Principal Theatre. This is the beginning of Alicante's Holy Week, in which twenty-five processions and more than thirty sculptural groups decked with flowers mingle and crowd the districts, squares and avenues. The acts of Easter Wednesday and Thursday undoubtedly take pride of place in all of the rich elements that make up Alicante's Easter Week.
On the first day, La Procesión de la Santa Cruz (the Procession of the Holy Cross), takes place in the eponymous district, located on the slope of Mount Benacantil. The floats of El Cristo Gitano (the Gipsy Christ) and El Descendimiento (the Descent) wind through the Old Quarter's narrow and twisting streets towards the centre. In this descent, the bearers have to make extraordinary efforts and show great skill in their handling of the float. Afterwards, they will have to ascend, with the same devotion, to return the images to the Santa Cruz District Chapel.
On the night of Easter Thursday, the prelude to the Crucifixion, the main event is the imposing Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence), whose two main figures are dramatic images of incalculable artistic value: Nicolás de Bussi's 17th-Century carving of Our Lord, El Cristo de la Buena Muerte by and the 18th-Century Our Lady, La Virgen de las Angustias by Francisco Salzillo. These images are accompanied by flickering candlelight, the forceful solemnity of bugles and kettledrums, the silence occasionally ripped asunder by a saeta, and the strong smell of incense, flowers and burnt wax.
Similarly remarkable are the processions of Easter Tuesday, or Good Friday morning , when an array of figures depicting Christ's Passion are borne along the Explanada. Among them Saint Veronica, covered in a precious gold-embroidered robe is worthy of special mention. This procession touches the deepest roots of the Alicante people's emotional understanding of the Passion. This then is the Explanada during Easter Week, with its sparkling Mediterranean light and swaying palm trees, the backdrop to the procession of Our Lady, La Virgen de la Alegría which is brought out on Easter Sunday together with the image of Christ Resurrected, after their encounter at the Town Hall Square.
In spite of its solemnity, Easter in Alicante allows visitors to alternate moments of rapture with those of amusement and quiet contemplation. Moreover visitors can also enjoy all of the city's other amenities in the warm and friendly atmosphere that characterises the city all the year round.
As a prelude to the strict Easter observances, with Lent in between, Carnival allows us to disregard the social order in a celebration characterised by excess, although never chaos. Everybody wears fancy dress and everyone else is an accomplice to the disguise. Thus we become what we have always fantasised about being but never dared tell. Even the city's most representative places and spaces participate in this masquerade which re-emerged spontaneously after many years. Indeed, several of them are chosen every year to take part in the celebration as silent guests in stone.
Besides the above display, groups of people dress up to a theme of their choice so that they can participate in a frenzy where joy (more than originality) is the common motive for all who join in. Thus, year after year, the large carnival family has expanded, to the point of turning those short days into an unmissable date in the diary full of excess, laughter and grotesque transformation and colour.
The frenetic festival begins with the customary performance of Don Carnal and Doña Cuaresma Plays, and continues with the now traditional Sábado Ramblero when one of the main city thoroughfares and nearby streets becomes a compulsory meeting point for people in disguise, swapping jokes and trading criticisms. It is a place where people either become current popular fictional or real-life characters or they give free reign to their own fantasies, revealing our various realities and natures. The press of people is so great that it is almost impossible to get in or out of El Barrio or La Rambla.
Music is not only an accompanying background noise, but also an essential part of this dance of illusions and masks. After its brief, frenzied life, Carnival dies and, after exhausting its fleeting existence whose life-force is authenticity, masks and make-up, colour and deformity, is buried until the following year in the transcendental Velatorio (funeral wake) and Entierro de la sardina (burial of the sardine), suitably accompanied at its cremation by the wailing of mourners. In this final act, everybody wears black, tearfully carrying candles as a sign of mourning, and bid adieu to those days where prejudice and rules were held in abeyance. However, rolls are served, easing the sorrow of those present at the heartfelt funeral. Children, too, have their own carnival. The Domingo de piñata (Piñata Sunday) is their very own day; a day of games organised by entertainers, where central to the celebration are the piñatas (bags filled with presents, won in fun competitions).
Santa Cruz - Raval Roig - San Antón - Tabarca
These four districts are representative of the affectionate, traditional, family, neon invasion-resistant and evocative traditional Alicante. The district of Santa Cruz is located in the highest part of Alicante, nestling on Mount Benacantil, and kissing the sky. This then is the setting for the celebration of the Cruz de Mayo (May Cross), a colourful, emotional display of religious belief. Women decorate a number of the crosses dotting the district with flowers, and the district itself assumes an air of quiet joy.
On the other side of Mount Benacantil, Raval Roig is the city's traditional balcony on the sea. The rhythm of life in this district changes pace in September due to the celebration in honour of Our Lady, Virgen del Socorro. Popular games, cucañas (greasy poles), gastronomic contests and dances evoke a recent past full of the grace inherent in a tradition handed down from generation to generation.
Also, on Mount Benacantil, but overlooking the city, is the district of San Antón. Every January 17th, the Porrate de San Antón is celebrated with the blessing of animals and the presence of porrate street stalls, full of handmade sweetmeats and nuts.
Tabarca is a singular place and visiting it is a must, if only to admire its landscape, sample its gastronomy and meet its people. In July, at the height of the tourist season, la romería marítima (the maritime pilgrimage) in honour of Our Lady, Virgen del Carmen gives a touch of solemnity among the excesses of sun and sangria. In a moving ceremony, the image of the Virgin is taken out to sea accompanied by a flotilla of small boats and defunct mariners are remembered by casting flowers over the waves amid chants and salves marianos (praises to the virgin).
EVENTS & FIESTAS
The most important festivals in Alicante are the Bonfires of Saint John (Hogueras de San Juan) and the Moors and Christians (Moros y Cristianos).
Other celebrations include Fallas, carnivals, Easter celebrations and the festival of the Patron Saint in November to honour St James and the Virgin del Sufragio in March. The Fiestas de la Carxofa are celebrated in the old section of the town in the 3rd week of November and are the oldest festivals in the Alicante region.
Date Festival Description
January 5th Twelth Night, Benidorm Parade of the 3 kings
January 12,14,17 Pilgrimage of St Anthony, Benidorm. Religious pilgrimage
January 17th Porrate de San Antón Street Market
February 11,16,17 Carnival and election of the 'Queen'. Held in Benidorm
March 15th-19th Fallas, Benidorm Fallas and a procession of floats.
March 15th-19th Moors and Christians in Villafranqueza
March Virgin del Sufragio
April Moors and Christians pageant, Busot In honour of St Joseph and St Vincent Ferrer, lasting for four days and starting on the Saturday following Holy Week.
April Holy Week, Pilgrimage Holy Week. The Santa Faz takes place on the 2nd Thursday after Holy Week.
May 1st - 3rd Cruces of May, Javea Festival of Jesus of Nazareth held during the first days of May.
May 11th-14th Foietes fiesta, with a floral offering, Benidorm
June Moors and Christians in San Blas Takes place on 2nd week
June 15th-18th Corpus-Christi pilgrimage to the Church of the Almudena. Held in Benidorm
June 20th-29th Hogueras (San Juan bonfire Festival) Hogueras for the festival of St John
July Moors and Christians in Javea In the last 2 weeks
July 16th Virgen del Carmen, Busot & Benidorm A procession of boats for the Virgin del Carmen (the patron saint of sailors).
August 3rd-5th Virgen del Remedio Festival of the Virgin Healer.
August 10th Fiesta for Martyr St Lawrence Cultural and sporting activities.
August 12th-16th Fiesta of Moors and Christians Held in the Altozano District.
August 20th-23rd Moors and Christians Held in the José Antonio District.
September International Festival of contempory music
September 1st-8th Festival of Our Lady of Loreto. Held in Javea
September 5th-8th Virgen del Socorro Traditional dances held in the Raval Roig District.
October 15th Major celebration, Moors and Christians, Campello Festival dedicated to St Teresa around the 15th
November Festival of the Patron Saint (St James)
3rd wk November Fiestas de la Carxofa
December Festival of St Lucy, Javea ALICANTE AIRPORT, SPAIN
The airport of Alicante is a rapidly-expanding international airport that served over 190,000 visitors in March 2006 alone. In October 2006 German tour operator TUI, owner of Thompson are increasing flights to Alicante's El Altet airport to compete with the likes of Easjet and in just one year Thomsonfly has become the 3rd busiest airline in El Altet airport after Iberia and Easyjet.
Avis, Atesa, Auriga, Centauro, Europcar, Europa Car, Hertz, Sol-Mar and Record Rent a Car are all represented in Arrivals, next to baggage reclaim.
Road: Taxi: Taxis are available at the airport (journey time to Alicante: 15-20 minutes). The taxi rank is situated in front of the Arrivals hall. Bus: Scheduled buses run every hour to/from Alicante central bus station. Other services run to Benidorm and Murcia. All buses depart from opposite the Arrivals hall.
Parking is available at the airport in two car parks with a total capacity of 1,500 spaces. One car park is located opposite the terminal building and the other next to it; long- and short-term parking rates are available.
There are no hotels at the airport. The Holiday Inn Alicante-Playa de San Juan (tel: (0)96 515 6185) is 5km (3 miles) from Alicante. Sidi San Juan Hotel (tel: (0)96 516 1300) is a five-star hotel 15km (9 miles) from the airport. Other nearby hotels include the Hotel Tryp Gran Sol, Hesperia Eurhotel Hotel and the Residencia Maya Hotel.
Santa Faz Pilgrimage
3rd April 2008
Every year around 200,000 people walk to the Monasterio de Santa Faz on the second-largest pilgrimage in Spain. Starting at around 8am, the route wends its way along 8km of road from Alicante's town hall to the monastery.
Along the way, the people stop for the traditional paraeta, a breakfast of anise rolls and mistela wine.
At the monastery lies the veil with which Veronica dabbed at the bleeding face of Christ as he carried his cross to Calvary
Alicante Provincial Tourist Office
Address Avenida Federico, Soto 4, Entresuelo 03001
Phone +34 96 523 0160
Fax +34 96 523 0155
Moors and Christians in AlicanteThe Moors and Christians celebration has become one of the most representative elements of life in Alicante, combining an attractive mixture of religiosity, strict etiquette and controlled street festivals. Such is the case of San Blas, Villafranqueza, Altozano and José Antonio, where neighbours and acquaintances take to the streets and share a few joyous days of music, parades and fireworks. For many of the families who have to pay to take part in the filà, or parade, this means making a great financial sacrifice - even more so if the head of the household assumes the captaincy. However, the wonderful atmosphere, the result of careful preparation, is well worth the amount of time and money invested throughout the year.
Friendship is an essential element in the Moors and Christians celebration. Indeed, it could not exist without the spirit of comradeship. Almost everything is shared in the "military"quarters, or kábilas, where everybody meets and has something to eat and drink. If you are lucky enough to be invited into a kábila, you will be treated like a long-lost friend. But, to avoid embarrassment, a few rules, not lightly broken, must be observed: first of all, the outfit is by no means fancy dress - the celebration has nothing to do with carnivals- and secondly, the celebration, in spite of its enjoyable nature, is a very serious affair with its own rules and conventions. Generally, the celebration in Alicante takes the following pattern: the Avís de festa (notice of celebration ) is a parade where both sides -Christians and Moors- wear the full dress to draw the crowds. The celebration in the kábilas begins with the Nit de l'Olla, when a speech is delivered. From then on, no participant will leave unless there is a dire emergency. Every morning, after reveille is sounded, the participants wake their neighbours with an informal parade full of music and despertàs (wake-up calls) accompanied by the discharge of harquebuses. Apart from these acts, almost private in nature, the most colourful displays are reserved for the enjoyment of the public. During these Entradas (entrances), the captains, in their role as the most important figures, lead their side accompanied most of the time by corporals and standard bearers; next, the Embajadas (embassies) represents the fight to storm the square followed by a harquebus battle or Alardo. The grand finale is marked by the Retreta (retreat), a humorous close to the celebrations, with an almost carnival-like air, where the participants, after the protocol requirements, are free to have fun.
March 16th - 19th: Villafranqueza District
June 9th - 12th: San Blas District
August 12th - 16th: Altozano District
August 24th - 28th: José Antonio District
ALICANTE CARNIVAL 2014
From February 27 to March 9.Read More AlicanteLas Hogueras de San Juan including bull fights THE BONFIRES OF SAN JUANAlacant/Alicante
Public holidays : 24th What's happening in AlicanteEvents in Alicante
This is Alicante, it's the beginning of summer, and the breeze refreshes the stifling heat of summer and makes the streets cool and welcoming. The barracas (bars set up in the streets) bring a lively sense of fun to the night during the Hogueras de San Juan The festivity starts on the 20th of June, don't miss it! Come to las Hogueras de San Juan!
Experience fully this festivity, feel the welcome of this land and enjoy los castillos, (firework displays), las mascletaes (firecrackers), and the huge effigies that once again are central elements of the festivity and its final triumphal culmination.A short history
Since ancient times, the villages of the Mediterranean coast celebrated the coming of the summer solstice around bonfires that cleansed and purified. In Alicante, the ritual of fire survived throughout the centuries as a festivity connected to the farming community.
Later, in the XIX Century, this custom transferred to the city. This can be verified, as the first documented history of these simple bonfires goes back to the year 1822, with an edict issued by the Mayor which ordered: "...that bonfires were not to be made in the streets and by no means were firecrackers to be let off, on the night of San Juan and the following nights, subject to a fine of 20 to 100 Reales."
The corresponding edict was not issued in 1881, and according to a newspaper of the time, "...After the festivities began with the verbena de San Juan (a dance held in the streets), the peaceful inhabitants were allowed to let off firecrackers, and light bonfires to their heart's content." Taking advantage of the fact that it was no longer forbidden, neighbours from the same streets gathered together and started what was known as festes de carrer (street parties), with popular games, music and the appearance of the forerunners of the ninots (satirical ornamental figures). These neighbourhood bonfires continued in spite of the constant bans.
In 1928 the association called Alicante Atracción, was created, to encourage tourism to the city. With this aim in mind, the Town Hall gave them the authority to organize the first hogueras de San Juan festivities on an official basis. Within a few years, there were more than thirty Hogueras, and in 1932 the maximum representation of the Festivity was established, Bellesa del Foc (The Beauty Queen of Fire).
Bonfires of San Juan
The present-day Hogueras
Las Hogueras de San Juan effigies have been declared Festivities of International Tourist Interest and they are the most important festivity in the City of Alicante.
Nowadays, nearly 90 hogueras(huge effigies to be burnt) are set up in the city of Alicante, and there are more than ten thousand direct participants of the Festivity, in which the Comisiones de Hogueras (committees in charge of each particular effigy) and Comisiones de Barracas. (committees who control the open-air spaces with bars, dance areas and tables and chairs) play an important role. These festivities are also held in other towns in the Region of Valencia, mainly in the province of Alicante, such as Benidorm, Torrevieja or Xàbia, but also in Nules, in the province of Castellón, as an exception.
Among the main acts, we must single out the plantà (setting up) of the hogueras and barracas, las mascletaes, (firecrackers) the parades, the offering of flowers, la cremà and the firework displays, from the 25th onwards.
Advice to enjoy fully las hogueras festivity
Many streets in the centre of Alicante will be no-through roads because of la plantà de las Hogueras, (the huge effigies are placed in the streets), therefore we recommend that you park on the outskirts of the city and make your way to the centre on foot. Once in the city centre, there is a free bus service will take you round all the hogueras effigies that belong to the special section of the festivity.
The chairs that line the streets where the parades and processions pass can be hired out. If they are vacant, you can sit there for a reasonable price.
Wear comfortable footwear because you are going to be doing a lot of walking if you want to see all the Hogueras.
If the noise gets too much, open your mouth, and don't cover your ears, which make it worse.
If you get too close to a mascletà (letting off lots of firecrackers in unison), apart from the noise you could get covered with tiny pieces of coloured paper which come from the exploded firecrackers. Stand with your back to the wind, you will avoid the smoke and the bits of paper.
Always respect the safety perimeter distance marked out.
Don't miss the spectacular palmera (palm tree, from the shape the fireworks make in the sky) firework displays that are set off from the summit of the Santa Bárbara castle at 12 midnight and which signals the start of the "Nit del Foc" (burning of the effigies).
No Hogueras festivity would be complete without the "coca amb tonyina" (a tuna pastry) and "bacores" (early figs). Tradition states that the savoury pastry and the figs were the typical welcoming meal offered to those who helped to set up the hoguera effigy in the "plantà", and it is a meal that is enjoyed throughout the Festivities to this day.
Make a note of the meaning of some of the special terms of these festivities so you don't miss out on anything:
Plantà: this is when the hogueras effigies are set up. This usually takes place on the night of the 20th or the 21st.
Cremà: the act of burning the effigy.
Mascletà: a spectacular daytime firecracker display.
Palmera: a grand firework spectacle of lights and colours that is set off from the Santa Bárbara castle, which signals the start of the burning of the hogueras of the city.
Despertà: Music in the street at 8 a.m. in the morning, to remind the local inhabitants that the festivities are being celebrated.
Barraca o racó fogueril: A meeting place of the commissions of a hoguera and their invited guests.
Bellesa del Foc: Beauty Queen of the festivities chosen from amongst the queens from the various districts of the city.
Banyà: This is very popular custom among the younger element of the public, and refers to the soaking they receive from the firefighters during the burning of the effigies. The Fogueres de Sant Joan represent the very essence of the citizens of Alicante's open and passionate Mediterranean character. This character reaches its maximum expression in the ritual Nit de Sant Joan, 24th June. This is an ancestral rite which today is more lavish than ever in its manifestations and forms yet it has not lost an iota of its popular roots. For a few days, a party atmosphere invades the streets. People take a break from their everyday lives and take to the open and versatile space provided by the city's streets, a gathering place for the whole city.Besides the impressive ephemeral art of the papier mâché effigies whose fate is to be burnt in the Fogueres or bonfires, and which, for a few fleeting days, are the symbol of the celebrations, the barraca (fenced-off areas in the street with tables, chairs and a stage) is the meeting point where all of the celebration's official events, both social and gastronomic, take place. These halls boast colourful displays of bacores (early figs) and coca amb tonyina (tuna pie).
Since this is a celebration that commemorates fertility, Woman, both visually and spiritually, is another key element in the celebrations. The Bellea del Foc (Fire Beauty Queen) represents Alicante womanhood for a whole year, and she becomes a popular character, adored and known to everybody, old and young alike. The spirit of friendliness is evident in the processions too, where the spectators greet Belleas effusively.The bonfire, the celebration's key element can trace its origins back to ancient fire festivals, later becoming bonfires and then pyres formed by unwanted, broken household furniture burnt in the streets to honour local monuments. Today's bonfire effigies are a cause of both economic anxiety and collective pride in each and every member of the more than 80 participating committees, their effigies scattered throughout the whole city. As well as the effigies, there are two other important elements: music, and the fireworks of la mascletà (a series of smoke bombs and firecrackers). Within the celebrations, there is also a week of bullfights. The whole culminates with the burning of the effigies, la Cremà (the burning). This is a magical night that ends with yet another ancient ritual, bathing in the sea while watching the sun rise. The final touch is the fireworks display at Postiguet beach, where thousands of people gather to enjoy the displays that take place on five consecutive nights where national and international firework companies compete to outshine each other, literally.
The central element of the festival, the bonfires, deserve closer examination. Labelled by makers and artists as "an ephemeral art", the effigies are made of highly inflammable, perishable materials such as papier-mâché, wood, paper and paint. These magnificent works, painstakingly created over a period of months, are conceived to be consumed by the flames becoming nothing more than ash and embers, in a fleeting moment.
However, this is not a cause for grief; quite the reverse. The very aim of the celebrations is that the lovely and impressive effigies, the raison d'être of the celebrations, burn properly, thereby fulfilling their purpose. The effigy, a combination of architecture, sculpture and painting, has its own rules as regards its formal composition, and are the basis around which the artist expresses his creativity. As a counterpoint to this stylistic convention, are the ninots, grotesque figures which are both ornamental and provocative, giving vent to social and political criticism, giving expression to the vox populi in caricatures of social archetypes or famous personalities. Thousands of people, captivated by the lure of fire and the celebrations, come from all four corners of the earth, making Alicante a truly international city.
Santa Faz The romería (pilgrimage) to the Santa Faz Monastery , almost five centuries old, is the other major celebration in Alicante. More intimate and peaceful than the Fogueres de Sant Joan, it allows visitors to engage in conversation with the people of Alicante in almost a family situation. However, this tranquillity is shared by almost 300,000 people setting off on the eight kilometres that separate the starting point of the romería, the San Nicolás Co-Cathedral, from the monastery where the relic, the object of the romeros' (pilgrims') veneration, of supplications and wishes is kept.
The date of the pilgrimage varies since it is usually held on the second Thursday after Easter and, depending on the calendar, the variation can be as much as one month. People are advised to get up early because it is both a long distance and even though thousands of sprigs of rosemary (romero, hence the word for pilgrimage) are given away by the Town Hall, many of the romeros are left without them. At dawn, the representatives of the social, religious and political classes are already assembled. Almost all of them are wearing a black smock with a cravat around their necks, the latter bearing the city's colours of white and sky blue.
The walk follows a via crucis (Stations of the Cross) along the N-340, which is closed to traffic that day. At traditionally marked spots, people observe the paraetas (stops), one of the most crowded is the municipal stop where local wine and home-made anisette rolls are given away free. The arrival at the Santa Faz shrine turns into a struggle to get the best place to witness the opening of the niche where the Sudarium, made of fine gauze, is kept. According to tradition, the image of Christ's face was imprinted on the cloth when Saint Veronica wiped His face with it as He made His way to Calvary. After this religious act, the monastery is filled with prayers, whispers, lighted candles and votive offerings donated by the faithful who ask for favours, generally for some relative. Outside, the festive atmosphere continues with picnics, with hundreds of market stalls set out for the occasion. The purchase of handicraft objects is part of the whole ritual. At dusk, the constant flow of romeros wending their way back to the city goes on until well after dusk, putting the finishing touches to the pilgrimage for another year. The night of Saint John is now close at hand.
Moors and Christians
The Moors and Christians celebration has become one of the most representative elements of life in Alicante, combining an attractive mixture of religiosity, strict etiquette and controlled street festivals. Such is the case of San Blas, Villafranqueza, Altozano and José Antonio, where neighbours and acquaintances take to the streets and share a few joyous days of music, parades and fireworks.
For many of the families who have to pay to take part in the filà, or parade, this means making a great financial sacrifice - even more so if the head of the household assumes the captaincy. However, the wonderful atmosphere, the result of careful preparation, is well worth the amount of time and money invested throughout the year.
Friendship is an essential element in the Moors and Christians celebration. Indeed, it could not exist without the spirit of comradeship. Almost everything is shared in the "military"quarters, or kábilas, where everybody meets and has something to eat and drink. If you are lucky enough to be invited into a kábila, you will be treated like a long-lost friend. But, to avoid embarrassment, a few rules, not lightly broken, must be observed: first of all, the outfit is by no means fancy dress - the celebration has nothing to do with carnivals- and secondly, the celebration, in spite of its enjoyable nature, is a very serious affair with its own rules and conventions.
Generally, the celebration in Alicante takes the following pattern: the Avís de festa (notice of celebration ) is a parade where both sides -Christians and Moors- wear the full dress to draw the crowds. The celebration in the kábilas begins with the Nit de l'Olla, when a speech is delivered. From then on, no participant will leave unless there is a dire emergency. Every morning, after reveille is sounded, the participants wake their neighbours with an informal parade full of music and despertàs (wake-up calls) accompanied by the discharge of harquebuses. Apart from these acts, almost private in nature, the most colourful displays are reserved for the enjoyment of the public. During these Entradas (entrances), the captains, in their role as the most important figures, lead their side accompanied most of the time by corporals and standard bearers; next, the Embajadas (embassies) represents the fight to storm the square followed by a harquebus battle or Alardo. The grand finale is marked by the Retreta (retreat), a humorous close to the celebrations, with an almost carnival-like air, where the participants, after the protocol requirements, are free to have fun.
March 16th - 19th: Villafranqueza District
June 9th - 12th: San Blas District
August 12th - 16th: Altozano District
August 24th - 28th: José Antonio District
Summer celebrationsSoon after Fogueres de Sant Joan, come the more relaxed July-to-August summer celebrations when musical shows and cultural activities blossom. The streets are their stage, and the modern Plaza del Puerto (Port Square) turns into the main venue of the International Music, Theatre and Dance Festival. In those midsummer nights, when sleep does not come easily, both the people of Alicante and visitors of all ages and tastes get some fresh air while listening to a concert -be it classical music, jazz or blues, attending a ballet, or enjoying a play. The growing prestige of these cultural and musical performances is thanks to the high quality of the participating artists. So much so, that in just a few years they have already achieved international recognition.
If performance is the most important feature in these cultural celebrations, music is the common thread that binds most of them together. One of the most long-established traditions is the traditional Alborada, held on the evening of August 3rd. The Alicante Municipal Symphony Band fills the warm night air with the sound of classical music from eleven until the small hours. Yet another example of the importance of music as one of the most evidently characteristic traits of Alicante's identity.
The only religious act, among such a vast lay culture, a throwback to the ancient celebrations in honour of the city's patroness is the procession that, every August 5th, departs from the San Nicolás Co-Cathedral and winds its way through the Old Quarter's streets.
Postiguet Beach, Alicante
It is one of the typical beaches in Alicante, envied by many other provinces because of its size, fine and almost white sand and especially because of its location in the middle of the city. Vegetation accompanying its other attractions makes it even showier. It has all typical infrastructures in a very crowded beach and it is a meeting point for leisure in summer nights. Beach adapted to people with reduced mobility.
Average width: 45
Ocupation rate: High
Saladar Beach, Alicante
After the port, the road skirts the seashore and dome short stretches of beach appear before reaching El Saladar, a fine and golden sand beach offering more than one kilometre and a half to walk along it. With semi-urban environment and conserving, on its northern extreme, a dune chain giving it a nice aspect.
Average width: 45
Ocupation rate: high
San Juan Beach, Alicante
This crowded beach of almost three kilometres long extends from beaches in El Campello to Cabo de las Huertas. Very high quality open beach with fine and almost golden sand. With semi-urban environment, very bustling life and with tens of restaurants following one another along the waterfront. Accessible beach with all kind of services to make bathing easier to people with reduced mobility.
Average width: 90
Ocupation rate: High
The Beautiful Beach Resort Of San Juan in SpainSan Juan, alternatively known as San Juan de Alicante, is a beautiful coastal town just 8 km north of Alicante, and is situated along the unspoilt coastlines of the Mediterranean, in the Costa Blanca region in Valencian Community. Surrounded by Muchamiel and El Campello, San Juan is not only famed as well prosperous for its agricultural tradition but also for active tourism. San Juan is divided into two sections: San Juan Playa and San Juan Peublo.
The focal point of the town is undoubtedly its Blue Flag beach, which is also the best in the province. This fantastic, spectacular wide sandy beach is spread over 7 km, extending from the Cabo of Las Huertas to the Mutxavista Beach. The area is dotted with an array of hotels, restaurants, chiringuitos, and bars, offering exciting as well as thriving nightlife. The beachfront also arrives with such facilities as a Red Cross Post, infantile region, watchtowers, public gym, tourist information center, and toilets, apart from offering opportunities to enjoy a continuum of activities, with facilities like volleyball nets, dinghy and kayak rentals, pedal boat hiring, showers, and an expansive playground for children. Besides, found on the southern end of the beach is an interesting lighthouse.
Along the attractions of the Playa de San Juan, also worth-mentioning is Alicante-San Juan Golf Club, a fabulous 18 hole golf course designed by the world famous golfer - Severiano Ballesteros. With spacious, flat fairways and experienced instructors, the course is attached with superb facilities including games room, driving range area, a pro shop, snack bars, sauna, and practice ground, thereby making it one of the top class golf courses in the region. Above all, an interesting thing regarding this golf course is that within its one of the greens lies the remnants of a Roman villa that dates back to the 2nd century.
With an amazing monumental heritage, San Juan boasts of some important monuments including the Parish Church, built during the 17th century; the monastery of Santa Faz, containing relics such as the veil, which is thought to have been used by Veronica to wipe Jesus Christ's sweat; and hermitages including the 18th century del Calvario, the 16th century St Anne, and the hermitage of San Roque, built during the 19th century.
San Juan is also much famed for its festivities. One of the significant events is one that is held to honor Santo Cristo de la Paz, which is from 12-16th September. Another important event is Hogueras de San Juan, celebrated on every June. Also, of significance is the pilgrimage to Santa Faz Monastery that is held on every 2nd Thursday of Holy Week.
Lying on the outskirts of Alicante, San Juan is easily accessible via tram, car, and bus
Sightseeing In Alicante
Alicante is the second largest city in the Valencia Province. The city is a major tourist attraction and there are many opportunities for sightseeing in Alicante. Over six million tourists visit the Costa Blanca region each year. Many of them enter the region through the Alicante airport and spend some time in the city.
Sightseeing in Alicante: Attractions
The Old City centre is home to many museums and historic buildings. There is so much to see and do in this area to experience Spanish history and culture. It takes days to see all that the area has to offer. Plan to spend a few days of your trip in this area, taking in all the sights.
The Nativity Scene Museum is located on San Augustin Street. The museum features hundreds of Nativity scenes on display from all over the world. Kids and people who love Christmas will love this museum. Admission is free. This attraction is popular even in the summer tourist season.
The Concathedral of San Nicolas de Bari is an amazing old Cathedral. The large blue dome on the church is a landmark in the city. There is a large black marble sculpture of Saint Nicholas in the entrance of the church. It is also home to the Bishop of the Province.
The Avenida del Teatro is a huge theatre. It has large, Roman style columns at the entrance. The theatre is a great place to go for evening entertainment. A variety of shows and plays can be seen in this theatre.
The Castle of Santa Barbara is one of the largest Medieval fortresses in Europe. It was built by the Moors in the ninth century. There is a great view of the city from the tower. The castle is full of local history. Artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age have been found at the site. There is an amazing display of Spanish sculpture inside the castle.
Alicante has plenty of opportunities to enjoy the night life. The Barrio Santa Cruz, also known as the Old Quarter is a great place to experience the city at night. The area has a Medieval style feeling. There are a lot of bars and pubs in the area. If you enjoy music and abundant nightlife, be sure to visit the Old Quarter at least one night of your stay in the city.
Sightseeing in Alicante: Shopping and Beaches
The beaches are the biggest attraction in Alicante. The Costa Blanca has the longest summer season in Spain and is the best place to enjoy the sun. There is a promenade near the beach that is lined with palm trees. There are several sidewalk cafes here for eating and enjoying the beautiful weather.
The Plaza Nueva Alicante is a little aquarium in this area of the city. It is surrounded with palm trees and a modern display. The aquarium is a great place to relax and take a break from sightseeing.
There are many small and large stores for shopping throughout the city. The harbour and old city area have an abundance of small shops as well as El Corte Ingles, which is a large department store chain. In addition, there are local craftspeople along the waterfront selling a variety of crafts.
Alicante also has a large shopping mall. The Panoramis Shopping Mall is located near the harbour. It is similar to malls found in America, with a large variety of stores for shopping. In addition to the great shopping, the mall offers a beautiful view of the harbour area.
The Real Club de Regatas, or Royal Regatta Club is located in this area as well. Members of the Spanish Royal Family have been known to visit the club. You may get lucky and get a glimpse of royalty during your visit.
Festitíteres Puppets Storm Alicante
Alicante 1st to 10th December 20th International Puppet Festival, Festitíteres, will be held in Alicante. Within the programme of this prestigious festival are included shows from all over the world, aimed at all kinds of public, and which will be touring round different places in the city with their performances. AlicanteProvince: Alicante - Alacant / Autonomous Region: Valencia
Tourist Office: Avenida Rambla Mendez Nuñez, 23 - 03002 Alicante (Alicante - Alacant)
Tel. +34 965200000 Fax +34 965200243