One of the many attractions that Spain holds for the visitor is surely the concept of the “fiesta”, the party, with many hundreds being held throughout the country, year-round.

After the celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings on 06 January the next big, country-wide event in the annual fiesta calendar is St Anthony’s Day on 17 January.

Saint Antonio Abad (San Antón) was reportedly born in Egypt in 251 and since the middle-ages has been regarded as the patron saint of domestic animals. On St Anthony’s Day throughout the country bonfires are lit and there are processions through the streets: all types of pets, from the usual cats and dogs to tortoises, terrapins and parrots, join their owners for the parade before receiving a Holy Blessing.

The following YouTube video recorded at Pilar de la Horadada, Alicante, in 2009 will give you a flavour of the celebrations.

Each region of Spain has its own unique approach to the event and in Alicante some towns in the province hold “nut markets”: these Porrat de San Antón feature stalls with roasted chickpeas, hazelnuts, almonds, apricots, prunes and sweets like turrón de novia (bride´s nougat).

In the following YouTube video, domestic animals, including horses, are paraded around the bull ring in Alicante City before receiving a blessing.

If you are planning your trip to Alicante in January why not make sure you are there at this time to join in the celebrations. Oh…and if you need to hire a car you know where we are: