Festivals and Events
In Ibiza, it is possible to attend first order theatrical productions, to poetry recitals and countless exhibitions and displays that take place in all seasons, in the different museums or in the art rooms inhabiting the different towns of the island. The annual Festival of Jazz, held in the capital of the Pitiüses, is the personification of this cultural and leisure diversification. A musical event which has gradually become more prestigious and promotes the young musicians of this genre in the Mediterranean. On the other hand, its traditional fiestas provide a unique range of celebrations to help you really get to know the local culture.
Sant Antoni de Portmany patron saint
Sant Antoni Abad is possibly one of the most celebrated saints in the towns of the Illes Balears. However, the 17th January is a particularly special day for Sant Antoni de Portmany, in Eivissa. When this day arrives, the town is decked out to pay tribute to its patron saint, the good Sant Antoni.
The Passeig de Ses Fonts is where a large part of the activities which are organised for this day take place. This lovely promenade makes its way between gardens and fountains, skirting the large, calm bay of Sant Antoni de Portmany, on the eastern coast of Eivissa.
The Romans called this place Portus Magnus (Big Port), from which the present name apparently is derived. Perhaps alluding to this splendour, there is a monument at the entrance of the bay which commemorates Christopher Columbus; a stone egg with a caravel inside.
The fiestas begin a few days before the commemoration of the saint, with different activities; competitions, concerts and other events provide enjoyment for everyone.
Animal blessing and parade of Moors and Christians
On the 17th January, a mass is held in the morning in honour of the saint, followed by a procession and the traditional blessing of the animals. Many of the people of Sant Antoni also dress up as Moors and Christians on this day and take part in an impressive parade which arouses admiration in those watching. The baile payés (country dance), to the rhythm of typical Ibizan instruments such as the flute, and lively street parties bring a touch of music to the festival.
It is well worth visiting this town, which still conserves its character as a 'caserío pescador' (fishing village), as it was called at the turn of the 20th Century. Its streets are steep and narrow, with beautiful buildings offering a variety of restaurants, shops and other businesses. It also retains a certain hippie air, suggesting that the pace of life is somewhat different here and full of colour.
This is also an excellent place for enjoying sunsets from the coast, with the islet of Conillera enclosing the bay not very far away.
Festes de la Terra
Eivissa town turns into a vibrant centre of fun and commemorative events during the first eight days of August. This is the Festes de la Terra (Festival of the Earth), held in honour of the patron saints, Mary ?ad nives? and Saint Cyriacus, which celebrates the Catalan conquest of Ibiza on the 8th of August 1235.
Fun is guaranteed by the many activities on offer throughout this week of festivities: competitions, exhibitions, street music, performances in squares... as well as traditional religious events such as those that take place on the 5th of August, the day of the Virgin, and in the Sant Ciriac festival on the 8th.
The latter date commemorates the conquest of Ibiza by the Catalan troops in 1235, one of the most significant and popularly acclaimed celebrations. In the morning a mass is sung in honour of the saint . After that, a street procession accompanies the parishioners who file by with their flags.
Not all of them have these banners and the oldest of them, made over two hundred years ago belongs to the Sant Llorenç parish. Some of these flags have featured in curious anecdotes; the emblem of Sant Jordi for example, which they had to bury in order to hide it during the Civil War.
Un alto en la capilla de Sant Ciriac
The Sant Ciriac chapel, a small temple from the 18th Century is an essential stop-off. Below the saint there is an unusual, crude looking arch wherein lies a tale. Legend has it that the arch formed part of the passageway through which the Christians entered in 1235, led by the embittered brother of the Muslim sheikh of the time. Today the custom is to throw coins inside for luck.
The parade ends up at the monument to Guillem de Montgrí, with an offering of flowers and group dances, ball pagès (country dancing). On this same day, as dusk begins to fall, the villagers go up to Puig des Molins to take their berenada (a light tea) of pies, sandwiches and other home-made dishes. Live street bands, musical performances, and a spectacular castle of fireworks add the final touch to these festivities.
Festa del Vi Pagès
The Festa del Vi Payés is a tribute to Bacchus, the god of wine. But not only is good wine drunk on this day; sobrasadas and butifarras from the recent pig slaughter are grilled outdoors over wood fires to accompany these exquisite wines.
On the initiative of the small-scale wine producers of this village, the Festa del Vi Payés (Country Wine Festival) emerged as an attraction, since the sale of bottled wine had considerably reduced the demand for the typical local wines. Over the years, this festival has become a social event which brings together more than five thousand people, in a village with a population numbering less than 400.
Of the four brands of wines registered in Ibiza, three are from Sant Mateu, two of them with the Denominació d?Origen Ibiza (Ibiza Guarantee of Origin). This village, which belongs to the municipal district of Sant Antoni de Portmany, nestles among the mountains and has good dry land, composed of a type of very strong clay. Since time immemorial the country folk have cultivated their vines producing wine on a small scale.
Wine and products of the pig slaughter
Today the number of small-scale wine producers has increased to twenty five, and there are also two bodegas or wineries in operation. They all ensure that the wine flows freely during this festival, with each of them donating a demijohn of wine which, altogether, comes to about 800 litres.
The food side is also important. So two weeks earlier, the pig slaughter takes place, one of the most deeply-rooted popular customs in the Illes Balears, and they prepare sobrasadas (spicy Mallorcan sausages) and butifarras (pork sausages) which, grilled over wood fires, will accompany the wine during this festival.
Merienda or supper begins at six o?clock in the evening in the municipal sports centre of the village. Already alight at this hour are ingenious barbecues set up over old bathtubs, a very efficient system for keeping the fire going. All around are stalls where typical Ibizan products can be bought and stands where they make fresh buñuelos (fritter doughnuts) on the spot. Music and fun accompany the fiesta which lasts until midnight, while the wine helps one to forget the incipient cold of winter.