Thoughts of “Menorca” might bring a variety of excellent things to mind; Mahon cheese, Xoriguer gin, biosphere reserve, talaiots, abarca shoes, ex British colony, beautiful bays, etc…
However, without a doubt the Festival of Sant Joan is the most well knownand most celebrated fiesta on the island. Every year on 23rd and 24th of June the beautiful old town of Ciutadella is the place to be!
But you have to be quick, it is the most sought after destination in the entire Balearics. During these dates, there is not a mooring to be seen in the fantastic natural habour of the town that will not have a boat tied to it, and flights and hotels are booked months before in anticipation of this great event.
The origin of these celebrations in Ciutadella can be traced back as faras the XIV Century. Originally, a fund for repairs was set up for the village church of Sant Joan d’Artrutx, some five kilometers outside of the main town.The organisation included representatives of the different social classes and were known locally as “Caixers”. They were obliged to ride to church on horseback, especially during the Vigil of St. John. This tradition has continued through the years and various acts have been added resulting in the modern day festivities of Sant Joan.
Today, this centuries old tradition has become so popular that thousands of visitors come from all over the world to witness and take part in what is an incredible spectacle. Throughout the island the streets are decorated, ready towel come the "Caixers" and their horses, and to celebrate their Patron Saint.
The highlight of the festival is the “jaleo” when the “Caixers” delight the crowds with "bots", the act of making their horses prance on their hindlegs sometimes jumping off the ground to the rhythm of music which, although not originating from the island, is now recognised as being an integral part of Minorca’s essence.
Today´s fiestas welcome a great many people, all anxious to see the horses and riders that are led by the sound of the “fabioler” (flute player) who initiates the fiestas with the peculiar sound of the "fabiol" wooden flute. For the chance to feel like a true Menorquin, you need to witness this unique festival.