Parties are everywhere. Well-known saints, dark saints, parties that have little or nothing to do with the saints; No excuse is needed for a party. For three months or so, Majorca rejoices in the streets.
The festival of Sant Joan is the 24th. Deia, Mancor de la Vall, Muro, Sant Joan, Son Servera in Mallorca. These are places that have specific parties, but there are also the dances of Sant Joan in Felanitx and Sant Llorenç and the "nit de foc", the great night of demonic fire in Palma. The rituals for the summer solstice are carried out through the Dancing Sun Festival in Sant Joan or by the Dimonis de Sa Pedrera, the demons of Muro with its spectacular solstice.
One set of fiestas blends into another. It can be difficult keeping track of which saint is being celebrated and where. In Marratxi, the saint is Sant Marçal (Martial, feast day the 30th). In Andratx, Búger, Coloni Sant Pere, Esporles, Puerto Alcúdia, Puerto Pollença, it is Sant Pere (Peter the fisherman). On the 29th, there are flotillas with the image of the saint in Coloni Sant Pere and Puerto Alcúdia Port d’Alcúdia, and the fiestas - as with almost all - come to a close with fireworks. In Puerto Alcúdia, the Bay of Alcúdia is alight from midnight.
Before the fiestas arrive, there is a curious fair in the village of Selva. The Fira de ses Herbes, which in 2020 will be on the fourteenth, is devoted to the magical powers of herbs and plants; only one of the six "herbes" is in fact a herb - rosemary. Others include St. John's Wort, which has its own association with the Sant Joan fiesta period, and, above all, myrtle. At half seven in the morning of the day of the fair, myrtle is collected from the lower reaches of the mountains. At ten o'clock, the myrtle arrives in the village on decorated carriages, accompanied by pipers and demons. It is then distilled in the main square.
Corpus Christi. Once upon a time, Corpus Christi was one of the key dates in the religious calendar. A number of fiesta traditions grew out of the processions, such as the demons, giants and the cossier dancers. Nowadays, the two most important processions are in the early evening of the Sunday following Corpus Christi in Palma and Pollença. On the fourteenth of June, the Palma procession will be from the Cathedral, while in Pollensa the procession features the dances of the eagles and Sant Joan Pelós.
Men's ATP Tour. The men's professional tennis tour returns to Majorca in 2020 after an absence of eighteen years. The pre-Wimbledon tournament will be between June 20 and 27 on the grass courts at the Santa Ponça Country Club.
The fiestas for Verge del Carme, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, are in honour of a vision of the Virgin Mary which owes everything to an English saint. The Carmelite Simon Stock had this vision on the sixteenth of July 1251, when the Virgin is supposed to have given him the Brown Scapular Carmelite habit.
The Virgin is the patron of the Spanish Navy and is also the guardian of seafarers. The fiestas are therefore similar to those for Saint Peter in that flotillas carrying the image of the Virgin follow mass and a procession.
The fiestas are celebrated in Cala Bona, Cala Figuera (Santanyi), Cala Rajada, es Capdellà (Calvia), Porto Cristo, Port Andratx, Port Pollença and sa Rapita.
Sant Jaume, James the Great, is Spain's patron saint. The feast day is the 25th, and fiestas are in Alcúdia, Algaida, Binissalem, Calvià, Manacor, Portocolom, sa Pobla and Santanyí.
The main day for Sant Cristòfol (Christopher) in Arenal and Biniali should be the same as Sant Jaume. Probably because of the clash of dates, Christopher is rather earlier - the tenth. Other fiestas in July are Sant Victòria in Campanet (around July 12); Santa Margalida (Margaret of Antioch, July 20) in Felanitx, sa Pobla, Santa Margalida, Santa Maria del Camí; La Beata, Santa Catalina Thomás, in Valldemossa and Vilafranca de Bonany (July 28); and the twin saints Abdon and Senen in Inca (July 30).
There are certain fiestas which aren't really religiously based, such as Peguera's and Playa de Muro's at the end of the month. Pollença's La Patrona starts in July and ends on the second of August with the Moors and Christians battle. The celebrations Pollença’s patron saint, the Mare de Dèu dels Àngels, are a civic-religious celebration of an ancient origin, which, thanks to the incorporation, already in the 19th century, of the simulacrum of one of the battles suffered by the Pollencins against 1,500 Moors in the 16th century, has made the event a major event a very popular and first class tourist attraction that brings the whole town together. Since 1970, the fiestas begin with the traditional song, which is read in the cloister of Santo Domingo. Among the civic acts is the traditional “alborada”, which was first performed in 1882 and was authored by Nicolás de Castro. The dance of the "cossiers" has become one of the important acts of the Patrona since they were recovered in 1981 - 71 years after their disappearance - and they were added to these festivals as they used to dance in San Pedro. Llubí's Sant Feliu (Felix) fiestas conclude on the first of August.
The Atlantida Film Fest, which was the first week of July this year, is one of two major film festivals in Majorca; the other is Evolution in October. The guest of honour for the 2019 Atlantida festival was British director Ken Loach. Short and feature films are shown at various locations around Palma; they are also streamed. There are Spanish and world premieres for certain films; one of the national premieres in 2019 was Asif Kapadia's "Diego Maradona", which was screened for free in Palma's Ses Voltes Park.
Port Adriano has a series of concerts which start in the second half of July. International names appear at the marina in Calvià and have included the likes of George Benson and Tom Jones.
The Balearic Symphony Orchestra has a weekly programme of concerts at Palma's Bellver Castle throughout July. The first concerts for this particular season are usually in late June in alternative venues, one being a free concert on the Passeig Born.
It's tempting to assume that everything grinds to a halt in August because absolutely everyone's on holiday. Such a perception is far from accurate. The bars and restaurants, for example, are at their busiest - this is because so many people are on holiday.
With all these folk around, the fiestas are even more vibrant. They reach something of a peak in the middle of the month, as the fifteenth is a national holiday. The fiestas for the Assumption, Mare de Déu d'Agost, coincide with those for Sant Roc (Rocco), whose feast day is the sixteenth.
Roc is an important saint on account of his having dealt with plagues in centuries past. The fact that he almost certainly didn't exist but was probably an invention from the fourteenth century based on a seventh-century saint called Racus has not diminished his significance and certainly hasn't reduced his contribution to the fiestas. Between Sant Roc and the Assumption, there are at least ten major fiestas - Alaro, Caimari, Cala d'Or, Cala Rajada, Campos, Can Picafort, Porreres, Puigpunyent, Sencelles and Sineu.
Every August 15, one of the maritime solemnities is celebrated with more rigor and esteem, in fact it is an official holiday throughout Spain: on the day of the Assumption of Mary, known in Majorca as that of the Mare de Déu d'Agost or Mare de Déu Morta. In accordance with the tradition of the Church, on the day of Assumption the glorification and elevation (assum order) of the body and soul of the Virgin Mary, daughter of God Father, mother of God Son and wife of God Holy Spirit, to remain precisely next to the Holy Trinity. In the case of Palma, and all of Majorca, and taking the Cathedral as the reference point, it is necessary to remember that from the very days of Jaime I, the Cathedral was dedicated to Santa María and its main feast was on August 15.
This is to say nothing of other fiestas that come before and after. The befores are: Arta (Sant Salvador); Cala Millor; Colonia Sant Jordi; Lloret de Vistalegre (Sant Domingo); Llucmajor (Santa Candida); Palmanova; Sant Elm with its Moors and Christians; Santa Eugenia; Selva and Sant Llorenç.
The afters are: Cala Sant Vicenç; Estellencs and Sant Joan for the death of John the Baptist; Felanitx (Sant Agustí, Saint Augustine of Hippo); and the various places which celebrate Sant Bartomeu (Saint Bartholomew the Apostle) - Capdepera, Consell, Montuiri, Ses Salines, Sóller and Valldemossa.
On top of all this lot, S'Illot has fiestas which start before Assumption and carry on well past it, while there are the villages which are gearing up for the birthday of the Virgin Mary on the eighth of September. Fiestas? You've got 'em, while never forget Vilafranca with its melon fair and fiestas.
Among the highlights of all these fiestas is the duck swim in Can Picafort on the fifteenth. Until 2007, real ducks were used for this. People would dive into the sea and try and grab prizes of ducks that had been released from boats. The town hall, Santa Margalida, finally bowed to demands to stop using real ducks; this was in contravention of animal protection legislation.
The prohibition initially caused some notoriety. Amidst all the plastic ducks now being used, real ducks would be smuggled in. Crowds gathered as much to see if the ban was being flouted (and what the police were attempting to do to prevent this) as they were to watch the spectacle of the swim. The ban is now fully complied with, and the swim remains as popular as ever.
In Sineu there is a specific event known as the Mucada. A comparatively recent invention, it is one of a number of "neo-fiestas", alternative fiestas dreamt up by villages' younger people. The Mucada is the most anticipated of these neo-fiestas. Based around the legend of a bull-like figure, the Much, it starts around nine in the morning when there is a "pilgrimage" to go and find the Much. Processions and plenty of partying follow, and the Mucada attracts visitors from all over the island.
Right at the end of August there is a further example of the neo-fiesta. Held in Palma's Parc de la Mar, it is the water fight between the Canamunt and Canavall. The idea of a local association, the fiesta recalls a period of Majorca's history when much of the island had become dragged into a vendetta between two Palma families - the Anglada and the Rossinyol. One family was from the upper part of the city, the other from the lower part; this explains Canamunt and Canavall.
In 1598, there was a battle between the two sides that started on the Passeig Born and finished by the Cathedral. It took until 1666 to definitively bring the feud to an end; it had effectively become a long-drawn-out civil war. The water fight, which requires more than 20,000 litres of water, is between the rivals as they now are.
The Pollença Festival has been going 1962. A series of classical music concerts at the Sant Domingo Cloister during August, the festival attracts performers of international renown and is one of the cultural high spots of the year in Majorca.
A neighbour of Pollença, Sa Pobla, stages the Festival Mallorca Jazz Sa Pobla. This also brings in major names from overseas. Artists who have appeared in Sa Pobla include jazz legends such as the pianist McCoy Tyner. As well as the main concerts (most of which are free), there are "off-festival" jazz performances in the Plaça Major square throughout the month.
The Copa del Rey (King's Cup) regatta in Palma will be held from the first to the eighth of August in 2020. An important regatta in its own right, there is always added interest because of the participation of King Felipe. The Royal Family has holiday time in Majorca.
Calviá town hall now refers to Santa Ponça's Rei en Jaume fiestas as the "grand fiestas" in Calviá. Curiously, for a municipality that is home to so many resorts, there used not to be a grand fiesta. In 1994 this was all about to change, and Rei en Jaume was fundamentally a popular initiative rather than one from the town hall.
The residents association in Santa Ponça wanted to revive a celebration of the landing by the Aragonese-Catalan forces of King James and of the initial battle against the Muslims. The town hall offered its full collaboration in 1995, and so Calviá's grand fiestas were born. Over the years they have ceased to be just Calviá's fiestas; Rei en Jaume brings in people from all over Majorca.
Various other associations became involved in creating, for example, giants and bigheads to represent King James and knights, both Christian and Saracen. The fiestas have their own poetic symphony - "La joia en el si de la mar" (The jewel in the heart of the sea). Dances for various characters were devised. All of this came from local people, who helped to develop spectacular fiestas for late summer. And there is little which is more spectacular than the Moors and Christians battles.
Rei en Jaume takes place at the same time as the fiestas for the Mare de Déu de Setembre, the Virgin Mary's birth. These are celebrated in the villages of Banyalbufar on the Tramuntana Mountains coast, Costitx, Lloseta, Maria de la Salut and Fornalutx, the small village in the mountains which has the distinction of being the only village in Majorca and the Balearics to be listed as one of Spain's "pueblos más bonitos" - the most beautiful villages.
La Beata in Santa Margalida is also around the same time. The procession which concludes the fiestas will be on the sixth of September in 2020. Together, La Beata, Mare de Déu and Rei en Jaume bring down the curtain on the summer fiestas. But not completely, as there is still, for example, the not insignificant matter of underwear.
Bunyola's patron is Sant Mateu - Matthew, he of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The evangelist's feast day is September 21, so the Bunyola fiestas are right on the cusp of autumn. Some days before the 21st (usually a Saturday), Bunyola stages one of the most bizarre of all fiesta events. This is the underwear race, the winning of which is far less important than the taking part. Ostensibly for younger people, some older folk also get into their underwear, such as the mayor, who once had a pair of underpants specially made for him.
Nothing to do with saints, Cala Millor looks to have its say in bringing the fiestas season to an end by holding its tourist fiestas. Other resorts in Majorca have or have had tourist days, but Cala Millor is unique in having held week-long fiestas since the 1980s. The timing is linked to World Tourism Day, the 27th.
Very much to do with saints are the fiestas for Sant Juniper Serra in Petra, which are around the same time as Cala Millor's.
As the fiestas come to an end, so the fairs take over. The Llucmajor fairs from Michaelmas onwards are the big ones, but others precede it - Arta in early September, Manacor in the middle of the month as well as the village of Pina within Algaida, where demons rampage for a correfoc and prove that their fiery antics are certainly not confined to fiestas. In Puerto Sóller, fish take centre stage for the Fira de la Mar.
Also early in the month is a one-day fair in Lloret de Vistalegre which is devoted to figs. September is very much the season for figs, which are considered to be indigenous to Majorca. After the Romans had arrived on the island, Pliny the Elder was to commend the quality of Majorca's figs, as he also did the island's wine.
Grapes and wine are the themes of Binissalem's Vermar, while beer muscles into the scene with the Oktoberfest, which was held in 2019 at Palma's Pueblo Español.
The twelfth of September is the day for Majorca's patron saint, Our Lady of Lluc. The choice of the twelfth would seem to be because it was on this day in 1276 when Jaume II of Majorca had his coronation and made clear his Marian devotion. Our Lady of Lluc is the Black Madonna at Lluc Sanctuary, the statue that was supposedly discovered by a shepherd boy in 1250. His name was Lluc, Catalan for Lucas; Lluc, the place, comes from a Latin word for sacred woods.
One of two pilgrimages to Lluc takes place on the Sunday closest to September 12. People from all over Majorca set off from Inca at four in the morning.
There is an increasing number of art events in Majorca, several of them combined with wine. The main Nit de l'Art has been held in Palma since 1997. Galleries in the city as well as public buildings and cultural centres are open for an event that attracts some 30,000 people and which has established Palma's importance for art both within Spain and overseas. In 2019, the Nit de l'Art was on the 21st of September.
Port de Sóller has a classical music festival at the Museu de la Mar that begins at the end of September and continues until October. There are four concerts in total. The Alcudia Jazz Festival also has four concerts. These are every week during September. The final concert in 2019 featured British saxophonist YolanDa Brown and his quintet.
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