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07·MAY·2013

Bonfires of Saint John, Jávea

The month of June brings the Fogueres De Sant Joan (Bonfires of Saint John) to the streets of Jávea (Xàbia). This raucous celebration sees townsfolk street-partying, bull running and fire jumping. Primers valents botant el foc The festival originated from the tradition of burning old furniture to celebrate the night of Saint John on June the 24th. In 1928 the celebration evolved: Jose María Py, the festival’s founder, incorporated the tradition of ‘fallas’, the construction of sculptures from wood and papier-mâché which are then burnt on the last day of the festival in enormous infernos. On the second day of the festival, the 20th, these impressive monuments are erected and displayed about town. The fallas typically lampoon current events in the town or depict celebrities or politicians, and can tower above neighbouring buildings. Throughout the week concerts and sports events are held. At two o’clock on the 24th is the deafening ‘mascletà’ – the letting off of fireworks and long chains of big firecrackers. At night people come together for street parties, singing and dancing or to enjoy the mobile disco.
Those seeking an adrenaline rush partake in one of the bull running events that occur throughout the week. As if bull running wasn’t risky enough, the programme includes ‘bull running with fire’ and, interestingly, ‘bull running for children’... On the evening of the 23rd, the eve of Saint John’s day, small bonfires are lit at the gates of the ancient walls. The braver festival-goers then take turns in jumping over the flames for good luck. Personally, I’d want the good luck before jumping over fire.
On the night of the 24th, Saint John’s day and the final night of the festival, there’s a spectacular fireworks display over the town. The celebrations come to a climactic end with the burning of the fallas, sending huge flames up into the night. The festival runs from the 19th until the 24th of June. At the time of writing, the 2013 schedule is not available but for for an idea of what is happening when, see last year’s schedule or visit one of Jávea’s tourist offices. Jávea is around 70 minutes´ from Drivalia Car Rental’s Depot at Alicante Airport.