If you’re looking for a festival, Alicante has a range of colourful parades and fiestas. Frequently these include huge parties. There’s live music, and people dancing in the streets. The festivals continue through the night and into the morning. Festivals are a traditional part of Spanish society, and the local residents are passionate about maintaining these traditions. If you’re visiting during a festival, the locals will certainly encourage you to join in the celebrations.
The events start in January, with Porrat Festival. The festival, on January 17, celebrates San Anton, Alicante’s patron saint. The markets sell traditional food and nuts, and a small fair. Locals bring their animals and pets to the city’s bullring to have them blessed.
The Alicante Carnival
The Alicante Carnival is held in February. The festival begins with the Don Carnal and Dona Cuaresma plays, followed by daily street celebrations. The highlight is on Sábado Ramblero (2nd of February), when the city’s main thoroughfares, La Rambla and El Barrio, fill with stunning costume parades, music and dancing.
As the end of the carnival, a ceremony is held called ‘Funeral Wake and Burial of the Sardine’. In this ceremony, all the masks and make-up from the carnival are buried until next year’s carnival. As part of the ‘mourning’ act, everybody wears black and carries a candle in their hand.
Alicante celebrates Easter in style, with Semana Santa. The festival lasts from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Throughout the week, artwork is presented by famous artists. On Holy Wednesday, there is a procession on the streets of Santa Cruz. The Holy Supper Float (paso de la Santa Cena) is paraded on Thursday.
Peregrinación de la Santa Faz (The Pilgrimage of the Holy Visage)
The Pilgrimage of the Holy Visage is held on the Thursday following Easter Sunday. About 200,000 people dressed in orchard working clothes walk to the “Santa Faz” monastery to worship the Virgin Mary. The pilgrimage includes a fair, an art and craft market and picnic lunches.
Cruces de Mayo
In May the Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses) are celebrated in the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz. In this celebration, sweet-smelling crosses made of flowers line the streets. The celebration includes dancing in the streets and children’s games.
Hogueras de San Juan (St John’s Bonfires) held on St John’s night in June commemorates the coming of summer. Bonfires, colour and music happen at various places around the city. Locals join in, burning objects, dancing around the bonfire and celebrating the summer solstice. The bonfires are topped off with a dramatic fireworks display.
There are three festivals celebrating Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Virgen del Carmen (The Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt Carmel) is held in July on the island of Tabarca. A parade is held among the fishermen, who bear the image of Virgen del Carmen. The Virgen del Remedio (Our Lady of Remedy) is held in August, and includes a choral concert, and incorporates the Port Summer Festival, while the Virgen del Socorro (our Lady of Succour), celebrated in September, includes dances, cooking contests, games and a religious parade.
The Moors and Christians
The Moors and Christians’ activities celebrate the re-conquest of Spain by the Christians in the 12th century. The events are conducted at various times during the year and celebrate the social life of modern Alicante. Battles are reenacted by actors in period costume. Traditional food and drink are provided at the sites where the different armies ‘retreat’ after the mock-battles.