Every year, in the days surrounding the summer solstice, beautiful monuments line the streets of Alicante, some as tall as 30 feet, intricately made of foam, wood, cardboard, and other combustible materials.
From June 19 to June 24 the city celebrates the Hogueras de Alicante, or Bonfires of Alicante, with six long days of parades, music, and drinking. The festival culminates in la Cremà, a symbolic destruction of evils. Monuments and ninots (caricature effigies of celebrities and politicians) are burned in several bonfires all over the city, each representing an Alicante neighborhood.
At midnight on June 24, the festival climaxes when a fireworks display, launched from Mount Benacantil and visible to the entire city, signals the beginning of la Cremà. Firefighters keep watch and hose off the hot crowd and the historic buildings that are too close for comfort.
In May, each neighborhood selects a woman to compete for the title of Belleza del Fuego (Beauty of the Fire). She leads the celebration, which dates back to ancient farmers honoring the solstice.
Despite a period in the 19th century when bonfires and fireworks were prohibited by the local council (until they accidentally forgot to publish a reminder of the associated fines in 1881) the tradition, also celebrated nearby in Valencia, survived, and the Bonfires of Alicante was made an official festival in 1928.
Know Before You Go
For the best view arrive early. Bring water and be prepared for a long night.