Última actualización: 21/09/2023
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Sant Joan and Tourism
The festivities of Sant Joan in Ciutadella are unique and spectacular. For a few days the city of Ciutadella is transformed into a place where more and more people celebrate fun and family parties.
The dates of Sant Joan have become over the years an increasingly popular tourist attraction, so people from all over Europe and especially Catalonia travel to Ciutadella in late June.
The history of the festivities is quite unknown to most of the foreign attendees. It is a festivity whose origin dates back to the 14th century, and has religious motivations (although it cannot be verified with total certainty). With the passing of time, some acts have been added that differ from the original celebration to give a different touch to the party.
One of the most curious particularities of the festival is the representation of the different social classes of the society of the time.
- The Caixer Senyor represents the nobility.
- The Caixer Capellà represents the clergy
- The Caixers Pagesos represent the peasants
- The Caixers Menestrals represent the artisans.
The festivities of Sant Joan consist of a series of events spread over about a week (actually there are 5 key days).
The busiest days are June 23 and 24, but also interesting are the vetlla des Be and the day des Be. Below you can see a brief summary of the events of the festivities.
Vetlla des Be
The Saturday before the day of Sant Joan. A lamb, thoroughly prepared for the festivities, is watched over all night long. It is spectacular to see how white and pristine the lamb is.
The day des Be is the Sunday before Sant Joan. It is generally considered the beginning of the holidays.
Members of the Board of Caixers meet at Caixer Senyor’s house. On this day you can see l’Homo des Be, which represents Sant Joan baptista.to walk barefoot through the streets of Ciutadella with the white lamb on his shoulders.
In the evening, at 20:00 approximately, there is a game of hazelnuts in l’Avinguda de la Constitució.
It is the eve of Sant Joan. Ciutadella is already overflowing with visitors from all over. At 14:00 the fabioler (mounted on an ace, and with a fabiol and a drum), visits the house of the caixer Senyor to begin the retreat of the cavallers.
At 18:00 the “Caragol des Born” takes place, one of the first multitudinous acts with a certain risk for the assistants: the horses go around the Plaça des Born to the rhythm of live music played by an orchestra.
If at any time the music is stopped short, someone may have been hurt. When the caragol is over, there is another set of hazelnuts in the Contramurada.
At night you can see the Caragol de Santa Clara, where riders and horses go around the streets of Ciutadella and enter people’s houses. It is a suitable time for all ages.
June 24: Sant Joan
The day of Sant Joan is the day of culmination of the festivities. At 08:00 in the morning the fabioler goes to the Caixer Senyor’s house to start the celebrations. During the morning there are rehearsals for the Jocs des Pla, which I have never had the pleasure of attending.
Around 17:00, you will see how the streets overlooking Es Pla begin to overcrowd. People are getting ready for one of the most spectacular events of all the festivities: the Jocs des Pla, which will take place from 19:00 without taking into account the more than possible delays.
Els Jocs des Pla are for me the most fun and entertaining events.
- During the Carotades, two riders ride in parallel and while one of them holds a mask, the other tries to break it with a stone. Try to be far away when the mask breaks, as people will brutally pounce on the remains that fall to the ground to try to get a piece of that big trophy.
- In the joc de la Ensortilla, the riders will ride at a gallop and with a lance in their hands from one end of es Pla. At the other end you can see a ring or loop hanging from a cable. The rider will try to hit the ring, a few centimeters in diameter, with his lance. The difficulty of the test is extreme, and every time a rider gets it right, live music will play and people will start dancing with joy.
Which Acts are the most recommended?
If you go to Ciutadella for Sant Joan, you may not feel like attending all the events that take place during the festivities. I personally recommend to attend, whenever possible, the walk of l‘Homo des be (Sunday before Sant Joan).
I also recommend to see the Caragol des Born ( June 23rd) and without any doubt the Jocs des Pla ( June 24th). Plan your schedule well, because in order to see the Jocs des Pla from a good place, you should go at least one hour before.
Before traveling to Ciutadella for Sant Joan
If you want to go to Ciutadella for Sant Joan you won’t regret it, but there are a number of things you should know before you get there.
- The city is totally overcrowded during the holidays. Look for accommodation and a rental car well in advance.
- The caragol des Born can sometimes be dangerous, especially for short people or children. When you see that there are agitated movements of the horses, it is advisable to move away from crowded areas.
- At the Jocs des Pla, during the “Carotes” games, people go crazy to get a piece of the mask. Try not to be in the way when the carota breaks! Also, during the horse rides it is very dangerous to get too close to the riders.
- The protagonists of the festivities are the horses and riders, and if at any time you forget it is possible that people will remind you of it.
- If you don’t like Gin amb llimonada (some people call it pomada, but say it quietly), a mixture of Gin with lemon slush, you’re in for a treat.
Find out more
For more information about the festivities, you can:
- Consult the official website of the festivities of the Ciutadella Town Hall.
- You can also visit SantJoanWeb.