Hogueras de San Juan (St John’s Bonfires) is the most popular of Alicante festivals of International Touristic Interest. For centuries, it was a celebration dedicated to St. John the Baptist, having also some pagan origins. In fact, it is related to summer solstice and cult to fire, burning non-valuable objects and dancing around bonfires. Today, the value of figures burn could even tens of thousands of euros. In 1928, it was established as the official festival of the city.
This large event is prepared for the whole year. Immediately after the festival is over, artists and sculptors start creating colourful and impressive statues for the next year – made of wood and paper; musical orchestras are practising Valencian melodies and songs; Alicante ladies are preparing their traditional elaborate costumes in order to win the next beauty contest, … Finally, the awaited celebration starts on the 20th of June, taking place all over the city of Alicante during 10 days. All the streets and squares are transformed into open-air restaurants with tasty Spanish food (variety of seafood, Spanish ham, excellent wine, a lot of beer, traditional desserts, …), immersed into a loud carnival atmosphere with good music.
At street crossings and town squares, you can see eye-catching figures; very often taller than surrounding buildings; and smaller ninots – always funny and often with serious political messages. During the course of the bonfires, an official committee evaluates the statues and reward them with prestigious prizes.
Most impressive figures are placed in front of the Town Hall, square Plaza de Montañeta, in front of the Central Market (Mercado Central), etc. At the end of Noche del Fuego (the Night of Fire) – at the midnight – a large firework (called Palmera) is launched from the Castle of Santa Barbara and all figures and ninots are burnt down, during one of the best street parties in Spain.
Every day, Hogueras de San Juan are accompanied with other colorful celebrations, parades, music and dance performances. There are processions along large avenues – people wearing both traditional and carnival costumes. You can see Valencian peasants, Roman soldiers, oriental Moors, ancient Egyptians and a lot of horses. There is also colorful Medieval Market, taking place in the historic center of Alicante, around the Cathedral of San Nicolas. Visiting Plaza de Torros, you can watch the best bullfights.
Once las Hogueras are finished, the party continues with one of the most impressive fireworks competitions. Just go to the central Postiguet beach (or take an organized boat tour) and enjoy – night after night – many hours of breathtaking fireworks.
If you decide to travel to Alicante during other months, you can always go to the Fogueres Festival Museum (situated in Álvarez Soto street, on the corner with Rambla Méndez Núñez avenue) and see a selection of ninots from the previous years.