Depending on when you’re in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Alicante, Spain, you may have the chance to experience unique and unforgettable festivals.
Festivals and celebrations are deeply rooted in Alicante’s culture, often consisting of street parties filled with music and dance. Whether you decide to study abroad during the fall, spring, or summer, you will have the opportunity to experience a local festival in the coastal city of Alicante. Our students love these five festivals, which become memories they take home with them and are great for their social media accounts.
Bonfires of Saint John (Hogueras de San Juan)
The arrival of summer is celebrated in Alicante with the Bonfires of Saint John. This festival dates back centuries. Every year from June 20th to 24th, Alicante comes alive with partying, music, and fire, drawing visitors from all over Spain. On the first night, the traditional Plantá takes place, the creation of a great Hoguera and a children’s Hoguera in each district of the city. The Hogueras are not just normal bonfires but giant statues or figures of art, often satirically representing important local or national personalities.
The next few days are filled with an offering of flowers, an International Folklore Parade, mascletás (pyrotechnics displays), bullfighting, and of course, the traditional Cremá on the final night. If you’re interested in a summer term in Alicante, this is a festival you can’t miss.
Carnival is a festive period before the Christian season of Lent, with the main events typically occurring during February or early March. The Alicante Carnival is one of the most highly participated carnivals in the Valencian community, with the main premise being to have fun. The biggest day is Sábado Ramblero, where people take to the streets dressed in their most original, quirky, or traditional attire. The Carnival celebrations end on Ash Wednesday with Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine), where it is customary to wear black and mourn the Sardine.
Moors and Christians Festival
This is a festival that commemorates the struggle and battles between the Christians and the Muslims during the Reconquista. Participants of the Festival are divided into two groups: Moors and Christians, with the Moors “taking over” the city and the Christians retaking it the following day. There are several events to simulate battles with armies marching through town, with participants dressed in outfits reminiscent of past warriors that fought centuries ago. The festival itself dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. No matter which time of the year you decide to study abroad with SSA, you will likely be able to witness a nearby Moors and Christians festival.
Holy Week (Semana Santa)
Semana Santa is the week leading up to Easter, which will be the week of April 2-8th for the 2023 Spring Semester. Heavily anticipated throughout Spain, the week is filled with daily processions and traditional meals. Swing by the Santa Cruz neighborhood on Holy Wednesday for the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross procession, or head to the bay to watch Christ be carried by boat at sunset on Holy Monday. Prepare to see procession participants wearing tall conical hats, the origins dating back to the 15th century. Easter Sunday is filled with colorful processions and the consumption of the mona de pascua, the traditional sweet of Alicante. The mona is an elongated or round sweet bread with a hard-boiled egg in the center. Careful, though; it is custom to smash the egg on the forehead of a family member or friend while they are distracted!
St. Anthony’s Market (Porrat de San Anton Festival)
Though a lesser-known festival, the Porrat de San Anton remains a major festival among the people of Alicante. The festival takes place in January, honoring the Patron Saint of domestic animals. Typically held in the San Anton neighborhood, locals gather for the blessing of their domestic animals. The Porrat is like a traditional fair, selling local products such as dried fruit, nuts, jelly, dried chickpeas, and the special nougat candy turron de novia (bride’s nougat). The festival wraps up with fireworks, attesting to the traditions and customs of the Spanish people.
Don’t miss the chance to participate in one of these iconic festivals, becoming one with the Spanish in Alicante. Make sure to meet with an advisor at your college’s education abroad office, as they will also be able to direct you toward the right program for your degree path.
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