The annual Bonfires of San Juan (Saint John) in Alicante attract a massive influx of visitors, making security a top priority
This year, the event is expected to break all records, with almost a thousand security personnel mobilised. In fact, 15 days before the official festivities begin, finding available accommodations in the city is nearly impossible.
This lively street festival requires traffic restrictions in the city centre, making it challenging for locals and authorities. The Local Police have implemented a special operation with a flexible perimeter to accommodate the setup of the special bonfires, starting on Friday, June 16th, at 6 pm, as previously announced by the local authorities.
The rest of the bonfires will be set up starting on Saturday, June 17th, at 9 am, followed by the barracas and racós on Sunday, June 18th, at 8 am. It is anticipated that traffic restrictions in the city centre will be enforced starting on Sunday. Moreover, at 2 pm, the first mascletà competition will take place in Luceros Square.
Material Collection and Plantà Schedule: Official Adult Bonfire: Starting on Wednesday, June 15th, at 11 pm.
Official Children’s Bonfire: Starting on June 18th, at 8 am.
Special and First Category Bonfires: Transport, material collection, setup, and traffic restrictions starting on Friday, June 16th, at 6 pm.
Other Bonfires: Transport, material collection, and assembly starting on Saturday, June 17th, at 9 am.
Barracas, Racós, and Decorated Streets: Transport, material collection, and set up starting on Sunday, June 18th, at 8 am.
The Alicante Fire Department (Speis) will also be actively involved, especially during the highlight of the festivities, the Nit de la Cremà on June 24th. In total, nearly a thousand personnel, including an average of 325 police officers, 200 firefighters, and 450 Civil Protection volunteers, will work together to ensure a safe and incident-free celebration.
José Ramón González, the Councilor for Security, emphasized that the Bonfires security operation is the largest of the year. He praised the professionalism and experience of all emergency services, ensuring the utmost safety and security during the festivities.
The City Council of Alicante held a coordination meeting to organize the extensive special operation for the Bonfires of 2023, involving all relevant departments.
Over 156 reports have been processed by the Security and Civil Protection and Emergency Management departments to grant permits and develop emergency plans for the Plantà. The Fire Department will coordinate with technicians to ensure the appropriate placement of monuments, conducting inspections to verify and locate their designated areas.
Manuel Villar, the Councilor for Cleaning, highlighted the comprehensive cleaning operation planned for the Bonfires, involving over a hundred personnel dedicated to keeping the streets and beaches clean. The number will rise to 170 on the Nit de la Cremà. Additionally, 250 waste containers will be deployed to meet the needs of the racós and shacks.
The Department of Security also mentioned the relaunch of the successful “Zero Zero” campaign and breathalyzer controls by the Local Police of Alicante, previously implemented during the Bonfires.
The Bonfires of San Juan: Alicante’s Vibrant Summer Celebration
Introduction: Alicante, a picturesque coastal city on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast, comes alive every June with an extraordinary display of fire, music, and tradition known as the Bonfires of San Juan. This week-long festival, deeply rooted in local culture, is a testament to the city’s rich heritage and serves as a vibrant celebration of the summer solstice. From the construction of massive artistic monuments to the mesmerizing midnight bonfires, the Bonfires of San Juan captivate both locals and visitors alike, making it a must-see event on the Spanish cultural calendar.
Origins and Significance: The origins of the Bonfires of San Juan can be traced back to ancient pagan rituals that celebrated the summer solstice. Over time, these pagan festivities merged with Christian traditions and became associated with the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, held on June 24th. The festival is deeply ingrained in Alicante’s identity and has been celebrated for centuries, evolving into the grand spectacle it is today.
Elaborate Monument Construction: One of the defining features of the Bonfires of San Juan is the construction of intricate monuments known as “Fogueres” or “Hogueras.” These towering structures, reaching heights of up to 20 meters, are meticulously built by local artists and neighbourhood associations. Each monument tells a unique story, often satirical or cultural in nature, and represents months of planning and craftsmanship. The city becomes an open-air museum as these impressive structures dot the landscape, captivating passersby with their creativity and artistry.
The Plantà and Street Celebrations: The official start of the Bonfires of San Juan is marked by the “Plantà,” a ceremonial event where the Fogueres are erected throughout the city. This process takes place over several days, as teams of builders assemble the wooden structures and adorn them with colourful paper-mâché figures, lights, and decorations. The streets of Alicante come alive with music, parades, and festivities as locals and tourists join in the joyous atmosphere, immersing themselves in the vibrant energy of the celebration.
The Nit de la Cremà: The Night of Fire: Undoubtedly the most anticipated moment of the Bonfires of San Juan is the Nit de la Cremà, or the Night of Fire, which takes place on June 24th. As midnight approaches, the city’s atmosphere becomes electric with anticipation. In a stunning display, each Foguera is set ablaze simultaneously, creating a mesmerizing spectacle of flames and crackling sounds. The crowd gathers around the bonfires, watching as the intricate structures are consumed by fire, symbolizing the purification of the past and the embracing of a new beginning.
Traditions and Superstitions: Throughout the festival, various traditions and superstitions are observed. One such tradition is jumping over the bonfire three times, a practice believed to cleanse and purify the body and soul. It is also customary to write down wishes or desires on a piece of paper and toss them into the bonfire, hoping for them to come true. The celebration continues into the early hours of the morning, with music, dancing, and fireworks lighting up the night sky.
Tourism and Cultural Exchange: The Bonfires of San Juan have gained international recognition and attracted thousands of visitors from around the world. The festival offers a unique opportunity to experience Alicante’s vibrant culture, mingle with locals, and immerse oneself in the city’s traditions. The festival’s inclusive nature promotes cultural exchange and fosters a sense of community among attendees, creating lasting memories and forging new friendships.
In Conclusion: The Bonfires of San Juan in Alicante is a dazzling celebration that showcases the city’s rich history, artistic