14th June 2017
countdown has switched from days to hours and this evening,
as the sun dips towards the horizon, Fogueres Queen
Belen Fliquete will be formally announcing the start
of the popular Sant Joan festivities, arguably the biggest
party of the year in Xàbia. Her speech, in which
she will talk about a magical night seeing a dream
coming true, will be read out from a small stage in
front of the Ayuntamiento de Xàbia and under
the gaze of many hundreds of people who will pack into
the small square, all ready to begin ten days of celebration
which culminate of Saturday 24th June with a fantastic
firework display and the burning of the Fogueras.
evening has been long-awaited by those who hold the
festivities dear to their hearts, not least by the quintos,
the members of the Quintà 2017 'L'Escampà'
who will be the main protagonists of this year's celebrations.
In addition, more than 60 peñas, groups of friends
and neighbours who come together to enjoy the fiestas,
have been preparing themselves, ready to open the doors
of their special 'casals' and fill the streets with
music and colour.
what will happen this evening? This is an extract from
our guide to the fiestas of Sant Joan about the Pregón,
the start of the festivities.
the early evening, the quintos process around the
town to let everyone know that fiesta
is finally upon them. Friends and family often tag onto the end as the
procession works its way through the streets to reach its destination, the
Plaça de l’Esglèsia. The peñas and former quintàs will have already
started to gather in front of
the town hall building to meet it and the square is soon full of excited
festeros dressed in their colours, patting each other on the back, some of
them singing and the more youthful jumping in anticipation. The
different colours, the team colours, sway in the crowd,
reminiscent of the old football terraces in England.
The excitement builds as the procession of the "quinta"
arrive in the square; the "home team" has
arrived and a great cheer often welcomes them.
always, there is
an element of uncontrolled excitement as
everyone waits for the formal speeches from the Fogueres Queen and the quintà
presidents. Music fills the air as everyone begins to sing along to a few
traditional fiesta tunes. Printed sheets are often handed out with the lyrics
to two of the most popular songs, "Fogueres" and the stirring pasodoble of
"Xàbia". And then, rarely on time, the officials appear on
the special stage in front of
the town hall building and the announcement is read out: let the festivities
begin! Fireworks burst into the air from the rooftops and quite often there are
more fireworks and bursts of streamers and confetti launched from the church
steps. The atmosphere in the square can be quite wild, almost unnerving for
some, but it’s all conducted with fantastic goodwill.
Later that evening, at about
midnight, there is the tradition of singing to the images of San Juan. The peñas will have enjoyed a
communal dinner in the Plaza de la Constitución and their singing voices will
have been well-oiled with wine or maybe even something a little stronger. A
charanga band, the typical brass band that plays popular festive music, will strike up
a few songs and several hundred people will gather excitedly behind it as it
processes through the maze of dark streets. The first stop is the
niche of Sant Joan in the narrow street of Calle Teulería where the colourful crowd squeezes into any
position they can
to catch a glimpse of the image which has been decorated with flowers. People
climb onto the window grills but the neighbours don't
mind for its all in good nature and, after all, fiesta
is here. The band strikes up the "Fogueres" tune and
everyone – at least those who know the words; did you remember the songsheet? –
sings at the tops of their voices, swaying to the music and then jumping up and
down in unison to the stirring chorus.
After a couple of verses, the band heads
off, leading the crowd to the next destination, the niche of Jesús Nazareno in
the street of the same name where "Fogueres" rings out again in honour of the
town’s perpetual mayor. And then it’s off again, weaving its way into the
historic centre to arrive in the narrow Carrer dels Cups and some more singing to the
image of Sant Joan
before the cavalcade finishes in the Plaça de l’Esglèsia where the party moves
to a conclusion. Quite often there is a bit of sponge cake and some mistela
dished out by the organisers but most people are armed with the
quintessential plastic bottle of pop – and somehow you just know that they
contain something more than coca-cola or fizzy orange. Almost by tradition,
the current quintà usually takes over the church steps and no-one else is "allowed"
to acquire such a lofty height. From here, they exchange songs, chants and the occasional
insult with the peñas and the other quintàs gathered in the square below them.
It’s long past midnight, the drink has flowed and to the outsider it might feel like things
could get a little out of control. However a firm word from a commission member or a
local policeman lurking in the background tends to remind everyone of their
social responsibility to their town.
Gradually the square begins to empty as
groups of friends disappear in different directions, the younger element either making their way
back to their peña bars or heading back to the Plaza de la Constitución where
an open-air disco will entertain the more determined of party-goers until
almost daybreak. Older and wiser heads will head home, opting for their beds
for this is just the start of ten days of celebrations.
to discover more about the Fogueres de Sant Joan de
for the 2017 programme of events.