Bathed in crystal blue waters and home to 216 kilometres of unspoilt coastline, it’s easy to understand the magnetic pull of Menorca’s beautiful beaches. With secluded long sandy stretches and hidden coves, the island is regarded as the most tranquil of the Balearic sisters. Yet, there’s more to this sleepy island than just sand, sea and sun.
Every summer, a series of local saint day festivals bring Menorca to life with a bang. Loved by islanders, whole towns stop work for a few days to join in with the traditional street-side celebrations and general merriment. If you want to see a totally different side to this island read our guide to find out more:
What to expect
Each summer festival is unique in character and scale honouring the town’s patron saint. Common to all, however, is the eagerly awaited appearance of the native jet-black Menorquin horses mounted by traditional local riders. Together man and horse wow the crowds with impressive parades and jaleos – the star act where riders rear up their mounts and walk on horseback. You can also count on plenty of music and dancing, and the consumption of pomada, a potent drink made from local gin and cloudy lemonade.
Sant Joan Festival
The first event of the year taking place in June across the summer solstice is the Sant Joan Festival in Ciutadella. As well as the usual spectacles on horseback, riders participate in medieval games and mock battles reliving the times when the festival began. Street parties, live music, a fun fair and a large firework display to conclude the proceedings also feature on the agenda. Festival-goers will enjoy taking in the setting of Ciutadella with its charming harbour and atmospheric old quarter.
Sant Jaume Festival
In the eastern seaside town of Es Castell, the Sant Jaume Festival takes place on 24th and 25th July, and is one of the biggest on the island. Adults and children alike will be kept entertained by activities taking place in the town hall square and harbour. Look out for open air dancing, band processions and riders giving out rose water to ward of evil.
Sant Bartomeu Festival
On the 23rd and 24th August, the Bartomeu Festival runs in the central town of Ferreries celebrating its 16th century origins. Following tradition, the herald or ‘fabioler’ sets off around the town upon a donkey to round up the horses and riders that make up the cavalcade. The second day includes a donkey jaleo as a fun and light-hearted portrayal of the main event. Candles are also distributed to the crowds and exchanged with neighbours.
The Gràcia Festival
One of the last festivals in the season is the Gràcia Festival in Mahón, a main town on the eastern edge of the island. Taking place on the 7th and 8th September, the festival involves a pilgrimage to the town’s chapel to pay tribute to the patron saint, Our Lady Grace, before processions, jaleos and horse racing begin in the streets.
Other summer festivals include:
• Sant Martí Festival in Es Mercadal on 19th and 20th July
• Sant Cristofol in Es Migjorn Gran on 28th and 29th July
• Sant Gaietà Festival in Llucmaçanes on 4th and 5th August
• Sant Lluís Festival in San Luís on 25th and 26th August
• Sant Nicolau in Es Mercadal on 10th September