The festivities for each Fiesta usually start the week beforehand with a full programme of sporting, cultural and children’s events. In Alaior, highlight includes the floats on the Sunday evening, which are themed and great fun.
A good fiesta for ‘beginners’ is Sant Climent, 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.
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
- It’s a good idea: Take a bus to the fiestas as parking is often difficult to find. You need to catch whats known as the “Jaleo Bus”. There is a frequent service to and from the fiestas. You can find more information and timetables at: www.menorca.tib.org
- Dress down: No need for fiesta frocks or smart shirts! To fully enjoy the fun of the fiesta, put on a pair of trainers to keep your toes safe from the sand and crowds, paired with shorts and t-shirts that you don’t mind getting dirty. There can be quite a lot of horse poo around!
- 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.
- Drink plenty of water: When the sun is really hot you can get dehydrated very quickly and if you partake in “Pomada” be aware that as delicious as it is, it can be rather potent.
- Horses beware: Keep on your toes if you dare to join locals in the centre of the “Jaleo” because 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. The horses are normally well behaved and the riders will let you stroke them or have a picture taken with them.
- 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.
- Eat, drink and be merry: For a three course meal, go to another town! Locals snack on the streets during fiestas – there’s fast food, rolls and pastries on every street corner. With a “Pomada” in hand, don’t forget to wish your friends “Bones Festes!”