Saturday, July 01, 2006


The festival of San Juan in Alicante finishes this weekend. The final event, Hogueras is similar to the Fallas fiesta in Valencia. Originally the event involved the towns' people gathering items such as old furniture and piling them onto huge bonfires. In 1928 one Jose Maria Py decided that Alicante deserved a fiesta like Fallas and set about creating Alicante's biggest party of the year.

Tonight Alicante will be ablaze. As the clock strikes midnight on the 'Noche de San Juan', a spectacular firework display will be launched from the Castillo (castle) de Santa Barbara This is the signal to light the hogueras which are giant satirical effigies, constructed from papier mache, wood and cardboard and representing each of Alicante's 86 barrios (neighbourhoods). Apparently the flames from the fires reach more than 10 metres into the sky.

Once the fires are burning well the people begin to hurl insults at the bomberos (firemen) encouraging them to spring into action, dousing the crowds with thousands of gallons of water and extinguishing the hogueras. In typically Spanish style, the party continues in the barracas (street bars) until four in the morning and maybe even a disco to round the night off.

We have to support England in their match against Portugal and then we are going to a birthday party up at the Pedrera so we will miss it. Mind you my ears still bear the scars from the fireworks in Valencia so maybe it isn't such a bad thing.

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