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Bonfires of San Juan in Alicante, Spain

Bonfires of San Juan in Alicante, Spain

20 June 2013

The Bonfires of San Juan is a popular festival celebrated around Saint John's day's eve (23 June) throughout many cities and towns in Spain; the largest one takes place in Alicante, Spain, where it is considered the most important festival in the city. This fiesta has been declared of International Tourist Interest.

Thousands of people take to the streets to enjoy the Bonfires of San Juan, which traditionally the people of Alicante would go to the countryside for a festive dinner, and at midnight they would burn old pieces of furniture, set off fireworks and go swimming in the sea to celebrate the arrival of the summer season. In 1928 the fiestas of the Bonfires of San Juan were formally constituted.

Today, people still gather together and create large bonfires from any kind of wood and share hot chocolate, while teenagers and children jump over the fires.

The festivities officially begin on 20 June with the 'Set Up' (la plantà) which is the process of assembling the cardboard and paper-mâché monuments; street ninots (Valencian for puppets or dolls) and archways to the "barracas" are set up in the streets, where people dance and drink all night.

During 21 and 22 June the Floral Offering Parade to the Remedy's Virgin (Ofrenda de flores a la Virgen del Remedio) patron saint of the city, takes place. In the three parades, people wear the traditional dress, and in the Flower Offering, women wear mantilla (a lace or silk veil or shawl worn over the head and shoulders, often over a high comb called a peineta) and carry a bunch of flowers.

On 23 June sees the "International Folklore Parade", a colorful parade with floats, dance groups, marching bands and dancers from various countries throughout the world.

At midnight on 24 June the Palm (firework) (La Palmera) occurs. This is a magnificent cascade of fireworks, and it is followed by the Burning (La Cremà), were the bonfires all over the city are set alight, which is the culmination of the festival.

If you have not been to Alicante, do not miss the Bonfires of San Juan and its display of music, colour and fireworks. And if you have experienced this fiesta, then you know you will be in for a spectacular time.

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