Las Hogueras de San Juan is the largest cycle of holidays in Alicante. It consists of events that last throughout June, and their climax is on days between 19 and 25 days of this month.

The festivities attract many visitors and mobilize the city’s residents both for organization and for later celebration. Las Hogueras de San Juan was declared a National Tourist Attraction and an Object of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It has its roots in pagan agricultural rituals that were celebrated during the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. During this rite, the fire was worshiped, which was a symbol of purification and chased away evil spirits and energies. Later, after the adoption of Christianity, the ritual was combined with the feast of San Juan Baptista (Saint John Baptiste), which is on June 24th. In Alicante and its outskirts, farmers used the longest day of the year for harvesting, and the shortest night for burning rubbish and old junk. In the nineteenth century, the tradition spread among the less affluent inhabitants of the city, while a part of the richer class wanted to forbidden it. For this reason, during this era, the town hall forbade the celebration of Hogueras, and high penalties were imposed on those, who violated the rule. In 1881, for unknown reasons, the magistrate forgot to establish the above prohibition and the city was celebrating one of the most magnificent and unforgettable Hogueras. In later years it was again banned, but people were still celebrating in hiding. It 1928, thanks to the José Maria Py, Las Hogueras was considered an official holiday, mainly to attract tourists, who in those years more often chose the coast of Cantabria. Official preparations were modeled on Fallas de Valencia, or the Fire of Valence Festival, which at that time enjoyed great recognition and prestige. The first and subsequent editions of Las Hogueras de San Juan were successful, which convinced the authorities of the importance and the need to celebrate this event.

Nowadays, ceremonies in honor of San Juan consist of inseparable moments and elements. In the first place ninots should be mentioned, which means “puppets” in the Valencian language; these are figures made of wood and paper, which satirically depict people, who are popular in a current time. Each district of the city, which takes part in Las Hogueras prepares one puppet, which is then displayed in the competition. Plantá, or the presentation of figures on special installations, is showed on June 20. From that day, residents and tourists can enjoy their view in every district. Each year, two ninot’s are selected, which will be “pardoned” – one of the adult categories, the other of the category for children. The “saved” figures are placed in the Museo de Las Hogueras, which is located at la Rambla Méndez Núñez No. 29.

The next important stage is mascaletá, or pyrotechnical competition, which takes place from 16 to 24 June from 2 pm, at the plaza de los Luceros. Undoubtedly, it is a great festival of gunpowder and sound and no one will leave it indifferent. Before the explosion of the fireworks scandal, the custom was also march of great figures.

The basic element of the ceremony are the barracas, which are something like longitudinal tents and are paid by the residents of the districts in which Las Hogueras takes place. They are set on the streets and surrounded by a fence, while their entrance is a facade decorated with allegorical motifs. On the day of “cremation” it is burned together with ninot’s. Inside the tents are tables, chairs, a bar and a stage. It is a place where you can eat, drink, dance – in a one word, big fiesta takes place there. Street parties, that are free of charge are very popular.

In each district, there are elections for the miss or queen of ceremonies, both among children and adults. Of all Bellea del Forc (Beauty of Fire), Queen or Miss and her court ladies are elected.
The march of orchestras and delegations, which takes place on the Saturday preceding the plant, is equally important. Members of various delegations who represent districts are dressed in traditional costumes of farmers. They are accompanied by the Bellea del Forc (Beauty of Fire) and their court ladies. Along with the delegations, music groups from different provinces take part in the procession.
Another important element of Las Hogueras is laying flowers, which falls on June 21 and 22. The queen of the ceremony and her court ladies, representatives of the delegation, organizers and thousands of residents of the city offer bouquets of flowers, from which an attractive, multicolored flower rug is laid. It is exhibited in front of the concatedra in honor of Virgen del Remedio, it means Lady of Perpetual Help, the patron saint of Alicante.

As of June 23, there is an international folk march of music groups, carriages and dancers from various places of the world. The participants infect the audience with their youth, joy and color. It starts at the plaza de los Luceros, passes through Alfonso X el Sabio, la Rambla, ends at the beach del Ayuntamiento. In the night, Hougeras are moved to the beach, and the most popular ones takes place on Postiguet and San Juan beach. During this night there are extremely symbolic and superstitious rituals: youth and children jump over fires, which are fired using old objects (often bringing bad memories) and pieces of wood. According to tradition, one should jump at least seven times to ward off bad energy and unhappy events, close the old chapter and start a new one. Some participants have notes with them, where are mentioned their worries they want to get rid of, or the wishes and dreams they want to fulfill. The others decide to take a naked bath with their eyes fixed on the moon. This is to ensure, according to divination, health throughout the year. Purifying and antagonistic forces of fire and water combine during this magical night.

On June 24 at midnight, cremá begins, meaning the burning of ninot’s. The starting signal are fireworks from the Santa Bárbara castle, which take the form of a palm tree and thanks to which, for a few moments, the whole city is surrounded by a glow of light. Then, the official hoguera, meaning the figure located on the beach of Ayuntamiento, is burnt first and then the ones from other districts. In this way, the city “burns” in every corner of it. Firefighters do not hesitate to move from place to place, to stifle a fire. Water and fire merge again to “cleanse” everything. However, this does not mean the end of the event – on the contrary, it will last until the morning.

 

Schedule of attractions and events organized as part of the Hogueras de San Juan

Thursday, June 6
7:00 PM: Completion and closing of the exhibition “Exposición del Ninot” and the selection of Ninot Induldat, or Ninot Indultado, which this year will be saved before burning it and will go to the exhibition in the Museo de las Hogueras.

Saturday, June 8
2:00 PM: pyrotechnic show mascaletá at Plaza de Luceros.
8:00 PM: Parade of Ninot figures. Passage of the delegation along the main streets of Alicante. Each group will be distinguished by decorations and themes matched to the hogueras, which accompanies them. The procession will cross the streets of Alfonso X el Sabio, Rafael Altamira, Rambla de Méndez Nuñez and end at Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

Sunday, June 9
2:00 PM Mascaletá at Plaza de los Luceros.
7:00 PM: Distribution of prizes and distinctions to this year’s winners from Belle del foc and her court ladies in the gardens of the Diputación de Alicante.

Friday, June 14
11:45 PM: Arribada del foc, or the arrival of fire. A sensory performance combining light, sound and pyrotechnics, that will take place before entering Corte Inglés, on Calle Churruca Street.

Saturday, June 15
2:00 PM: The first day of the mascaletás competition at the Plaza de los Luceros, organized by Pirotecnia Turís de Valencia.
7:00 PM: Performance of musical groups and the march of the delegation. This year’s Belleas del foc, or the Beauties of Fire, together with their ladies will be accompanied by members of the delegation dressed in traditional farm costumes, who, along with music groups, will pass through the square Plaza de los Luceros, and streets Alfonso X El Sabio, Rambla de Méndez Núñez, Calle Altarmira and Plaza de Ayuntamiento.

Sunday, June 16
2:00 PM: The second day of the mascaletás competition at Plaza de los Luceros, chair by Pirotecnia Tamarit.

Monday, June 17
2:00 PM: The third day of the mascaletás competition at Plaza de los Luceros, chair by the Pirotecnia Alpujarreña coming from Granada.
11:00 PM: The night-time Mascaletá organized by hoguera de la Condomina on avenida Historiador Vicente Ramos avenue.

Tuesday, June 18
2:00 PM: The fourth day of the mascaletás competition at Plaza de los Luceros, chair on this day by the Canarian Pirotecnia Piromart.

Wednesday, June 19
2:00 PM: The fifth day of the mascaletás competition at the plaza de los Luceros, under the direction of the Valencia Piratecnia Fuegos Articiciales de Mediterráneo.
12:00 AM: La Plantá de Hogueras – tents, as well as large and small hogueras will be installed in every district.
“XXIII Certamen de Ninots de Carrer” – start of the competition for Ninots figures in every district.

Thursday, June 20
9:00 AM: Visits and evaluation of all Hogueras Infantiles and Ninots de Carrer by the jury.
2:00 PM: The sixth day of mascaletás competition at Plaza de los Luceros, under the leadership of Pirotecnia Coeters Dragón de Villena from Alicante.
5:00 PM: Announcement of the winners in the categories “Hogueras Infantiles” and “Ninots de Carrer”. Then the official visit to the winning figure.
10:00 PM: Street party in tents and racós.
11:45 PM: A spectacular night-time mascaletá titled “La lengua del dragón” (“The dragon’s language”), organized by la Hoguera Pla del Bon Repòs-La Goteta, at the dragon roundabout on Bulevar del Pla.
12:00 PM: La Plantá – a competition of tents and hogueras adultas, or “adults”, more serious ones. At midnight will be a traditional dinner, during which dominates bacores, or figs, and a traditional coca amb tonyina cake, which we mentioned in one of our previous articles.

Friday, June 21
08:00 AM: Traditional Despertá, or wake-up call. Since morning, districts are preparing for the visit of jury members.
09:00 AM: Visit to the jury members and evaluation of all hogueras taking part in the competition.
12:00 AM: Gabriel Miró tribute in the Plaza Gabriel Miró.
1:00 PM: José José María Py tribute at José María Py.
2:00 PM: The seventh day of the mascaletás competition at the Plaza de los Luceros, organized by Pirotecnia Ferrández from Alicante.
5:00 PM: Awards in each category and official visit to the winning hogueras.
7:00 PM: Placing flowers for Virgen del Remedio, or the Holy Healer, patron of Alicante. Walk from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, across Rafael Altamira, Rambla de Méndez Núñez to Portal de Elche.
10:00 PM: Street festival in racós and in tents.

Saturday, June 22
08:00 AM: Despertá in all districts taking part in Hogueras.
11:00 AM: A march of winners in various categories, which will go from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, through Calle Rafael Altamira, Rambla de Méndez Núñez, ending at Portal de Elche.
2:00 PM: The eighth day of the mascletás competition at the Plaza de los Luceros, graced with the presence of the Pirotecnia Martí de Castellón.
7:00 PM: The second laying of flowers. The route is the same as the previous day – from Plaza de los Luceros, Alfonso el Sabio, Rambla de Méndez Núñez, Calle San José, Plaza de Abad Penalva, ending at the San Nicolás Concathedral.
10:00 PM: Street party in tents and racós.

Sunday, June 23
08:00 AM: Despertá in all districts taking part in Hogueras.
12:00 AM: Awards related to folding flowers at Mercadito de Fogueres.
2:00 PM: The ninth day of the mascaletás competition at the Plaza de los Luceros, chair by Pirotecnia Fuegos Artificiales Hermanos Ferrández from Murcia.
8:00 PM: Celebration of the LXIV of the international folklore march. Music groups, carriages and dancers from around the world will infect the rhythm and spread their art during the parade going from Plaza de los Luceros, through the streets of Alfonso El Sabio, Rambla de Méndez Núñez, Altamira, ending at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
10:00 PM: Street party in tents and racós.

Monday, June 24
08:00 AM: Despertá in all districts taking part in Hogueras.
2:00 PM: The tenth and last day of the mascletás competition at Plaza de los Luceros, run by Pirotecnia Hermanos Sirvent from Alicante.
08:00 PM: Misa Oficial de las Hogueras – The official Holy Mass in the San Nicolás de Bari co-cathedral.
12:00 PM: Popping the famous and spectacular palm made of fireworks from the Monte Benacantil hill, organized by Pirotecnia Martí de Castellón, and then Cremá, that is the official burning of the hogueras on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Then set the rest of the figures on fire in each district of Alicane.

From Tuesday, June 25 to Saturday, June 30:
12:00 PM: International Artificial Fire Contest “Concurso Internacional de Fuegos Artificiales” on the Playa del Cocó beach.

Plan of performances:
Tuesday, June 25: Pirotecnia Alpujarreña group.
Wednesday, June 26: Pirotecnia Pablo group.
Thursday, June 27: Pirotecnia Hermanos Ferrández group.
Friday, June 28: Pirotecnia Hermanos Sirvent group.
Saturday, June 29: Pirotecnia Gironina.