As St. John’s Day comes round, numerous parts of the Basque Autonomous Community celebrate their saints' feasts and neighborhood fiestas with different rites, and, of course, the bonfires to which people flock. In the village squares, for example, a stripped trunk (St. John’s tree) is raised and later set alight. On the night between June 23 and 24, popularly recognized as the shortest day of the year (which is in fact on June 21), the arrival of the summer solstice is celebrated in style.
Among many others, some of the biggest celebrations in Gipuzkoa are to be found in Tolosa, Eibar, Arrasate-Mondragón and Hernani. In Tolosa, for example, a program packed with activities includes the popular parade of typical bordon-dantzaris (rope-dancers), txistu flute players, riflemen, and members of the Banda de Música brass band. Eibar too is the setting for numerous activities, such as concerts, dance displays, sports competitions, street parades and workshops for children.
Particularly remarkable in the province of Álava is the traditional celebration held in Laguardia: a character going by the name of cachimorro, easily identified by his colorful outfit, parades before the dancers as all make their way, accompanied by the mayor and the alderman, to the town square, where they proceed to lower the Laguardia flag. Later, in the Church of St. John, the flag is spread out before Our Lady of the Pillar in a ceremony known as tremolación de la bandera (waving of the flag). Other towns with special events in celebration of St. John’s Feast are Salvatierra-Agurain and Amurrio.
Among the towns in Bizkaia that commemorate St. John’s Feast are particularly Leioa – where the festivities include a hugely popular bonfire beside the Town Hall, the akelarre or Witches’ Sabbath held among the bar stalls, and various concerts; Muskiz (with open-air dances, contests, concerts and activities for children), Getxo, Bermeo, Sopelana and the district of Amalloa in Markina-Xemein. In Bilbao, a bonfire is set alight in Artxanda before hordes of onlookers.
Where: Álava – Bizkaia - Gipuzkoa
Date: 23/06/2014 – 24/06/2014