Alaior: Situated half way between Maó and Es Mercadal on the Maó to Ciutadella road, Alaior is Menorca’s third largest and most industrial town. It is famous for its shoe making and dairy farming, in particular the local Mahón cheese, as well as home to the island’s only university, part of the University of the Balearic Islands. Built around a hill dominated by the church of Santa Eulàlia, this charming medieval town is made up of a maze of narrow streets and whitewashed buildings.
Now in its twelfth year, the Alaior evening market is now a firm fixture on the region’s cultural calendar, attracting more and more people each year to enjoying wandering around the various market stalls in the main streets, in particular Calle Ramal, Calle Major and Calle Forn, as well as the varied programme of live entertainment and music. Held each Wednesday, from 26 June to 4 September between 19.00 and 23.00 hours, over 40 artisan stalls display a wide range of local crafts, leather and cotton goods, ceramics, natural beauty products, jewellery and clothes with various handicraft demonstrations and workshops taking place. The entertainment in Sa Plaça, the main square, at 20.30 is a main focus with different acts performing each week. These range from live music, including jazz, soul, funk, classical, blues, pop and rock, to traditional Menorcan folk dancing and singing, ballroom, line and oriental dancing.
New for this year (2013) is the promotion of local produce on certain evenings, such as the Cocina del Queso (Cheese Kitchen) which will be held on 3 July and 7 August to promote Menorca’s officially recognised cheese, awarded ‘Denominación de Origen Mahón-Menorca’ , produced locally in Alaior. There will be tapas and also locally produced wines to complement the cheese. Another evening is being planned to promote another national favourite, ham. This market offers fun and entertainment for all the family and a great way to get to see one of Menorca’s lesser known towns. (Regular market day, Thursday.)
Ferreries: For the second year, Friday night is market night in this typically Menorcan town steeped in history. Located on the original main road running between Maó and Ciutadella (the new road opened this year bypasses the town), Ferrieries is Menorca’s highest town, lying almost hidden in the valleys surrounded by hills, with spectacular views over the countryside beyond. While its origins date back to the beginning of the 14th century, it has subsequently been built around the church of Sant Bartomeu and has become renowned for its shoe and furniture manufacture.
This summer, from the end of June to early September, the network of enchanting streets in the old part of town are playing host to a vibrant night market with stalls selling a variety of handicrafts, leather and ceramic goods, jewellery, clothes and local produce, bringing Ferreries to life and attracting visitors from all over the island. There is also children’s entertainment and live music performances. The market is held on Fridays between 19.00 and 23.00 hours. (Regular market day, Saturday.)
Es Mercadal: Nestling in the heart of rural Menorca where agriculture and farming flourish to provide the region’s main economy, this region of Menorca is often only visited by tourists as they pass through to Monte Toro, the highest point on the island, or to visit one of the spectacular northern coast beaches. However, the 14th century town of Es Mercadel is itself a very pretty and peaceful market town of simple whitewashed buildings, traditional cobbled streets, little boutiques and a surprising number of excellent restaurants and bars to choose from.
Each summer, from the first the first Thursday in June through the first week of September, the summer Artisans and Gastronomic evening market is held in Plaça de Pare Camps offering a wonderful display of local handicrafts and an interesting selection of typical locally produced Menorcan foods. There are also various stalls selling collectibles and antiques as well as performances featuring traditional Menorcan music and dancing, making for a very enjoyable and interesting visit to this understated rural town. (Regular market day, Sunday from October to May.)
Es Migjorn Gran: Due to its remoter location, just a few kilometres inland from the south coast, Es Migjorn is the town that has been least influenced by tourism, retaining the charm and traditions of a small Menorcan village, surrounded by magnificent countryside. In summer, this historic town with its whitewashed buildings and green shutters and doors, seems almost asleep until nightfall when the town comes alive as the locals go about their daily business in the cooler night air.
Throughout July and August, there is an evening artisans market in the main streets on Tuesdays from 19.30 to 23.30 hours. This is the perfect excuse to discover one of Menorca’s more secret treasures as you soak up the atmosphere and perhaps stop off at one of the modest bars to sample true Menorcan hospitality and authentic tapas. (Regular market day, Wednesday.)
For more information on Menorca’s Summer Markets, click here.