In Majorca, the midsummer feast of St John the Baptist is a little bit livelier than your average firework display in England. On 23 June, for one night only, the old town of Palma comes alive for the Nit de Foc, ‘The Night of Fire’, creating an electrifying atmosphere in the city until the early hours. The festival is quintessentially Majorcan, and it is the perfect way to experience how the Spanish throw a party!
When we arrived at the festival, early evening, we were immersed in the island’s rich traditional Spanish culture. This was a nice contrast from Palma during the day, which can often feel like it is being overrun with tourists and day trippers, descending from their cruise ships, into the old town, with their whistle stop tours. We were greeted by crowds of flamenco dancing Spaniards. Strangers of all ages dancing in sync with each other and live music against the backdrop of the Catedral de Santa Maria and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina made for a street party like no other.
After various live performances and a healthy dose of flamenco dancing, the most exciting part of the night, the Correfoc, approached. The Correfoc (‘Fire Run’) brings the streets to life during the night with a parade of giant dragon sculptures, set ablaze with fireworks as they march through the old town,to the rhythm of drums. Performers dressed as devils dance, in the sparks of Catherine wheels attached to the pitchforks they brandish above their heads. Some of the more daring spectators were able to dance under the fireworks with the devils. A local informed us of a superstition, that if you dance with one of the devils, then you will have good luck for the rest of the year (depending on whether you make it back out alive and unscathed or not!). Prior to attending the festival, we hadn’t quite anticipated just how quickly things could escalate, and we ended up sprinting away from a particularly feisty firework brandishing devil. So, if you do decide this festival is something not to be missed, make sure to keep your distance from the fireworks, and ensure you are stood in a space that will allow you to quickly evacuate if one of the demons of the Correfoc comes your way, Catherine wheel in hand. When visiting the festival, it is important to be vigilant, and keep your valuables close to you in case of any potential pickpockets lurking in the crowd. It is also a good idea to keep a fair distance between yourself and the main firework display when the performance is at its fiery peak. Be aware of your surroundings; several palm trees set on fire during the night, though none of the locals really seemed to bat an eyelid.
And if all of that isn’t enough for you, after the Correfoc and some more live performances from dancers and drummers on the main stage, the last revellers often make their way to the beach to light fires and watch the sunrise. If you do head to the beach, stay well away from the sea if under the influence of alcohol as there are many strong underwater currents surrounding the Balearic Islands. No one appeared to be intoxicated at the event, but there was alcohol for sale and just be aware that most foreign travel insurance policies exclude cover for events that take place after excessive alcohol consumption, wherever you’re headed.
Overall the event is an amazing insight into Majorcan culture and the ways in which the islanders celebrate in the summer months. Visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for more travel advice for Spain.