The festivities start the week beforehand with a full programme of sporting, cultural and children’s events. A highlight includes the floats on the Sunday night, which are themed and great fun.
A good fiesta for ‘beginners’ as it is small with everything is compacted into a few streets streets, so it’s easy to negotiate and not so daunting. A great way for young children to experience what fiestas are all about.
This popular fiesta attracts residents from all over Menorca and this year takes place over a weekend, no doubt attracting even more visitors. On the third night (Sunday 25) there is a donkey Jaleo, just like in Es Migjorn Gran, when a group of locals dress up and ride the donkeys, imitating the real thing. Great fun to watch.
This lively fiesta fills the village, so use the bypass if heading off to the eastern beaches or making your way to the airport. The floats on the Sunday night are fantastic, well worth a visit.
Menorca’s Fiesta Jaleo: Not For The Faint Hearted!
The fiestas are to honour each town’s patron saint and, although religious in origin, today they are a good excuse to stop work, enjoy life and party non-stop for a couple of days. Menorca may have a reputation for being a tranquil, relaxing island but when it comes to fiesta time they certainly know how to celebrate.
Businesses and banks close, streets are cordoned off, fairground rides are set up and the residents take to the streets and squares to enjoy games, races and competitions during the day, and concerts, evening markets and a firework display on the final night. Restaurants in the town and village centres stop serving food and set up bars selling beer and ‘pomada’, a potent drink of local gin and lemon, and market stalls serve traditional fiesta snacks.
However, the real focal point is without doubt the ‘Jaleo’ where the beautiful Menorcan horses adorned with ribbons and rosettes, together with their riders dressed in black tail coats and white riding breeches, parade through the streets to the main square. To the deafening shouts and cheers from the crowd, they show off their equestrian skills, the horses dancing on their hind legs and even jumping in time to the traditional Jaleo music, played by the local brass band. It is a spectacle that it not seen anywhere else in the world and the fiesta atmosphere is infectious, with the brave making their way through the masses to touch the horses’ chests for luck. It should be noted that the Jaleo is crowded, noisy and not suitable for very young children or the infirm.
Fiesta Survival Guide
While for locals the fiestas are a great chance to have fun, party with friends and celebrate their patron saint, they can be quite a culture shock for first timers. The loud cheering crowds, the beat of the fiesta music and the opportunity to see the beautiful horses parading in the streets are a spectacle not to be missed.
So, here is our brief survival guide to ensure you are well equipped and ready to join in with the fun.
Five tips to make fiesta time more fun for all the family
1) Dress down: No need for fiesta frocks or smart shirts! To fully enjoy the fun of the fiesta, put on a pair of pumps to keep your toes safe from the sand, and shorts and t-shirts that you don’t mind getting messy.
2) Be safe in the sun: Slap on the sunscreen and pop on a hat – if not you’ll be so worn out with the sunshine you won’t want to join the party.
3) Horses beware! Keep on your toes if you dare to join locals in the centre of the Jaleo – a horse could well rear up behind you! To get close up to these four legged beauties in a safer setting, wander through the back streets where riders await their turn.
4) Kids can come too: Children might not like the chaos in the main plaza, but there are plenty of other attractions. Whether they be fairgrounds or fireworks, parades or performances, they are all part of the party too.
5) Eat, drink and be merry: For a three course meal, go to another town! Locals snack on the streets – there’s fast food, rolls and pastries on every street corner. And with a pomada in hand, don’t forget to wish your friends ‘Bones Festes’!