Although we haven’t exactly noticed a recent shortage of fiestas here on the island, now that the tourist season is winding down against the approach of Christmas, rather than taking a break or flinging up early tinsel like they do back in the UK, the Majorcans are gearing up for one of the biggest and most popular ferias on the island’s calendar.
Inca, the third largest town in Majorca, sitting halfway between Palma and Pollença, will soon be hosting ‘Dijous Bo’ (Catalan for Good Thursday) due to take place on Thursday 14 November.
Inca has a traditional history of holding markets on a Thursday, with recorded reference to ‘market Thursdays’ dating back as far as early 17th century, documenting Inca as a meeting place for merchants, traders and artisans alike. But Dijous Bo is much more than your usual, everyday market. It has even grown over the years to be much more than your average, celebrated fair.
Dijous Bo is an extravaganza of spectacular proportions; a ‘rumbustification’ of cultural celebration attracting more than 200,000 visitors each year from both the mainland and across the island. So when I say Dijous Bo is BIG, I really mean it’s MASSIVE, spreading itself across 40 streets with over 500 colourful market stalls, showcasing everything from delicately scented candles to hefty thoroughbred livestock along with the trademark tractors, a vital part of Majorcan heritage.
The Majorcans also love to eat, so Balearic gastronomy obviously features highly on the Dijous Bo listing, providing a big draw with not only traditional Majorcan delicacies, but extensive ‘kitchens of the world’ also taking part with an impressive variety of offerings. The aroma that scents the fair as you wander through Dijous Bo is sublime. A treat for the taste buds as well as the eyes. Local wines and artisan beers will also star, alongside local produce, vats of olives, mountains of cheeses, a plethora of pies, and strings of sausages including the famous Iberican hams. Yummy! There will be hand-crafted soaps ( not to be eaten although they smell so good ) alongside artistry showcasing wood carvings, and exhibitions of leather goods and jewellery.
And it won’t end there! You’ll see bird and poultry shows, falconry displays, owls, eagles, farm animals, horses and much much more. I’m actually getting quite exhausted just thinking about it, for it’s not the kind of fair that you can simply dip into for the odd half hour. And that is why the lead up to Dijous Bo incorporates three successive and separate weekend fairs, specifically designed to get you acclimatised, and put you in the right mood for the ‘Big Kahuna’.
The first fair - Fira de la Terra - kicked off on Saturday 19th, and as its name suggests was dedicated to the land, focusing on all things green and growing. Organic and earthy was the theme, with plants, flowers, herbs and natural produce from Mother Earth all on glorious display throughout the town centre. Cookery demonstrations also featured big time! The inevitable showers only added to the ecological ambience and didn’t dampen the spirit or the occasion, and seen by some as Mother Nature simply joining in!
Dijous Bo originated as an agricultural fair celebrating the current year’s harvest. Therefore, this first autumnal fair was a gentle opener with its green finger waggling towards an ecological theme, embracing nature, along with craft beers, hence the nod towards hops and barley, plus a ‘Night of Wine’ to celebrate the humble grape. Hic! So something there for everyone depending on the cut of your gib. Or the size of your glass!
Amidst all those leafy and earthy stalls, there was still time for children’s events and games designed to channel the youth of Majorca’s natural energy, celebrating their creative growth.
The second Inca fair - Fira de L’Oci (showcasing leisure and sport) took place on Sat 26/Sun 27 October, concentrating on cars, motorbikes, sport activities, and science technology, with a leather-fest thrown in for good measure. Classic cars and bikes will be high on the agenda’s ladder, with rallies and parades showcasing the ‘pimped and polished chrome’ amidst live ‘rock and roll’ bands, music and street concerts.
The third and final fair before ‘Dijous Bo’ is called the Fira de L’Art, embracing not only all things creative and artistic, but incorporating ‘Mercat Medieval’, a magical mediaeval fair within the fair from 1st – 3rd.
The Medieaval Market is my personal favorite, where the streets are scattered with straw and strung with medieval banners and colourful pennants. The fair is usually well prepared with stalls and market-holders themed and decorated in full medieval fashion. Be prepared for lots of leggings, tabards and tights on display with plenty of hose, hoods, bonnets and bustiers. Just the thing to set the mood as you journey back in time with strolling minstrels, street theatre, jugglers, fire eaters, stilt walkers, magicians, acrobats, jesters, mime artists and mediaeval singers.
The street food is also amazing with bubbling cauldrons, simmering soup vats, rib racks grilling on open barbeques, sausages sizzling on braziers, authentic kebabs served in flatbreads and an abundance of other local, Mediterranean delicacies.
With a nod to 700 years of Moorish occupation during the Middle Ages, some of the streets take on the look of an Arab Souk with tea tents pitched and posted, offering traditional mint tea and selections of sweet almond pastries and other Arab delicacies. Yum!
There is folk dancing, local wailing, and bagpipes plus various exhibitions, usually involving one displayingn medieval instruments of torture, which to some is more or less the same thing as listening to the Xeremiers! ( local bagpipes ) And to top it all off, rockets, fireworks and more dancing. It’s all extremely busy and rather hectic, but Inca is very accessible by train so there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever not to attend. Take yourself along and get feasting, while you prepare for the really big one - Dijous Bo, which is not to be missed. Thursday November 14 is the sacred date. Pop it in your diary.
If you don’t want to face the heaving crowds, ‘Dimecres Bo’ takes place on the preceding Wednesday 13th afternoon through to the evening, when the fair has just been set up. It is exactly the same as Dijous Bo but a gentler version and a day earlier, mostly attended by locals before the big crowds arrive on the Thursday. So until then, you’ve got plenty to be getting on with! Happy Fiestas!