Wow! What a stunning city this is. With palm trees, long sandy beaches, and chill vibes, Alicante is a hidden gem on the Spanish east coast. Moving here, I didn’t know what to expect, but soon I was blown away. The craziest festival in Alicante, Spain, is held here. Don’t miss it. It’s every June!
The city is always vibrant and often wears different party clothes. Its wardrobe is diverse and colorful, making for rich cultural experiences. June is the best month to visit Alicante and experience this incredible life-filling festival. You will have fantastic weather too. This might be the one festival that Alicante is famous for. It brings people together from all over the world.
Don’t be slow. Pack your bags and go!
1. Origin of the Festival
Las Hogueras de San Juan, known in English as The Bonfires of Saint John, is celebrated in June. The idea of this festival came to life in 1928 when a lady called Py realized that Alicante needed to step up its game and have its signature festival. So, they combined bonfires with the Valencian fiesta Las Fallas to which they added a touch of Alicantinian extravaganza.
This festival celebrates the beginning of the summer. It takes place on different dates each year. It is celebrated around the globe and varies significantly as every country has adapted it to its old traditions. The association with Saint John comes as he was born around the summer solstice (midsummer), and the Christian Church decided to celebrate it together.
2. Preparation mode
It is fascinating to see the city transforming day by day. Streetlights are installed around the city, tourists flood, and street vendors appear. While adventuring every night on the streets to capture unique moments and observe the spirit of the people, I interacted with tourists, locals, and street artists. I saw how foreigners and Alicantinians enjoy this old cultural tradition. I met a painter coming from Colombia every year, especially for this festival, to exhibit his beautiful landscape paintings.
Traveling always brings a fresh state of mind. One changes a bit whenever traveling to a new place. Observing people’s customs, the energy surrounding them, and the sights make traveling wonderful.
The first weekend of June starts with fireworks (mascletà). But wait, there’s more than just fireworks; there’s rhythm, noise, gunpowder, and emotion. The high intensity of the fireworks will give you goosebumps. If you can’t live it, you can always watch it. I made a video just for you to watch. Have a look here:
For ten days straight, there are fireworks at 14:00 for about 10 minutes in Plaza de Luceros. Every day and night, something is happening. The city gets busier and busier, resulting in the city center and adjacent streets being closed off, giving place to the installations of barracks (picture below). It’s an improvised construction with a roof decorated with lights, having its music station, DJ/ live band, and restaurant.
A beauty competition is also part of the tradition. Belleza del Fuego (Beauty of Fire) showcases beautiful traditional Alicantinian dresses. Also, something that is a must to celebrate properly is petards. They are everywhere. Kids play with petards on every corner and street while parents have fun eating, drinking, talking, and dancing.
Every night till the morning hours, the city is drowned in music from barracks and outdoor parties. The city does not sleep; if it does, it’s very little because, in the early morning, it’s back at it again. Music surrounds the streets as bands of musicians go through the neighborhoods to give a wake-up call.
Travel TIP: During Hogueras in June, the city center is boisterous, and if you want to sleep during the night, I suggest you book accommodation away from the city center. Though having a barrack under your window can always be possible regardless of the location, at least it will not be that noisy.
Are another representation of the festival. As the sun sets, people rush into the streets where hundreds of chairs, for more than 1 km, are awaiting. A fantastic display of traditional dresses, each unique in color, detail, and print.
Main attraction: Las Hogueras
I consider these to be the soul of the party. Impressive art pieces are created to make your jaw drop and share stories on society, stereotypes, injustice, corruption, abuse of power, etc. And they are exhibited on the streets a few weeks before they are burned.
Yearly neighborhood competitions take place to build the best hoguera, which will live long in the Museum de Hogueras de Alicante. All others, under the supervision of the fireman, will be burned at midnight on the last day. The main one at the Town Hall and several others from nearby neighborhoods will be burned first. The city turns into complete madness. A feeling of euphoria and excitement gets into everyone as the flames increase to the point that you can feel the burning on your face.
Experiencing this first time, I had no idea that water would also be used to cool down the crowd screaming “Agua Bomberos/ Water Fireman.” Protecting the camera was not an easy task. The frenetic crowd thoroughly loved getting soaked; some had their bikinis on, ready for the show.
Gear TIP: Bring a GoPro or a waterproof camera, as you’ll be soaking wet if you are near the scene. The water jet is strong and reaches quite far, so stay far behind if you want to return home dry. But if you don’t care, by all means, go for it.
Below you can see some of the hogueras displayed around the city before and during the burning.
To close off this festival in style, what do you say about five days of fireworks shows? And there is a battle for it. Who offers the most epic firework display? At midnight, for 20 minutes on the Playa del Postiguet, you will experience a spectacular arrangement of lights, shapes, and colors.
More than a festival, this is a competition inside a competition. I love every second of this festival and would return for it anytime.
Will you add Alicante to your next destination?