San Juan….Biggest Spanish fiesta ever? Could be. San Juan is celebrated on the 23rd and 24th of June all along the Mediterranean, and on the Catalan Balearic Islands. San Juan is the perfect excuse for all inclusive holidays in sunny Spain! It’s no coincidence that San Juan is so close to the summer solstice, and many people think of this blow-out party as the true beginning of the summer.
San Juan is celebrated in a very ‘pagan’ way. There are fires on the beaches, singing, dancing, feasting, and a whole lot of drinking. If you go to bed on San Juan before seeing the sun peek up over the Med, then you have not celebrated hard or long enough. This once-a-year party is free, and popular.
Nancy and I live in Barcelona, and usually we celebrate San Juan on the beach in the city or on a roof terrace with good views of the fiesta but out of harm’s way. Barcelona has a million wild parties going on for San Juan, (Sant Joan in Catalan) which mostly center around debauchery. If you’re not into smoke, alcohol, skinny dipping, crowds and chaos, then book a flight to Minorca Island and spend San Juan at the horse festival.
The festival begins on the 23rd of June and the main attraction is not beer but horses. Coal-black Minorcan horses to be exact, a registered breed from the island. Agile, energetic and graceful, Minorcan horses dance on their hind legs through the streets of Ciutadella, the Island’s main city. Riders called Caixers hold on tight to their flashy steads while parade-goers attempt to pat the horses’ chests, an act which brings good luck and at times a hoof in the nose.
While it may not be the free-for-all-booze-fest that is Barcelona on San Juan, Minorca’s horse festival is also fueled by spirits. The drink of choice for the party ispomada, which is basically gin with ice and lemonade! It is as dangerous as it sounds. Your Scoopettes advise to go easy on the pomada if you want to get close to the horses.
Another piece of advice is to book early! The Minorca horse festival is very popular and hotels and flights fill for these dates. Book now and be there in a month for the horses, the tranquil beaches, and one of the best parties on the Mediterranean: San Juan. Buses run all over the island.