The Bonfires of Saint John are a traditional and popular festival celebrated around the world during Midsummer, which takes place on the evening of 23 June, St. John’s Eve. It is customary in many cities and towns in Spain; the largest one takes place in Alicante, where it is the most important festival in the city
In a spectacular display of music, colour and fireworks, thousands of people throng the streets to experience this fiesta which pays tribute to fire. The celebratory bonfires originally were part of an agricultural pagan ritual marking the longest day of the year – 21st June – and, traditionally, were nothing more than piles of old furniture collected during house clearance. But today, they are elaborate works of cardboard, wood and paper maiche called ninots , and in 1928 the fiestas of the Bonfires of San Juan were formally constituted.
For several days, these enormous figures are erected all around the city centre, (each one has a ninot for the adults and a separate one for the children). The lead up to the 24th June is marked by colourful parades, flower offerings, bull fighting festivals, music concerts, parades, beauty contests, all night street partying and daily choruses of the deafening mascletas (firecrackers)
Finally, at midnight on 24 June comes the cremà (burning), the high point of the fiestas. After a spectacular firework display, the statues are burnt one by one. Set alight by firecrackers, they burn to loud cheers and then, according to local customs, the fireman are taunted with insults and then screams of Agua, Agua (water, water!) encouraging them to turn and shower the merrymakers with water in what is known as the banyà.- to much cheering.