The summer fiestas in Menorca are to be considered a must see for anyone who wants to have an authentic local experience whist visiting Menorca. However they are not for everyone. If you don’t like horses, are not a comfortable walker or need to take an infant in a stroller then they will definitely not be for you. An alternative in this case or if you visit the island when the fiestas are not on, is a visit to the weekly equestrian show to see these magnificent horses and their riders in action.
The tradition of the fiestas is that they are for all people of all ages; certain parts of the fiesta are more for the young and strong and others times are for families with children and grandparents. The horses and riders are well practiced with years of experience and aware of their surroundings. Normally its the morning activities that are family oriented where the horses are available to pat, take photos and talk with the riders. Some of the afternoon activities are more thrilling and its important to watch from a distance, enjoy the show and leave the locals to do what they do best. At any time during the fiestas its possible to watch at a safe distance, the choice is yours.
Here are our tips for enjoying the fiestas
- Sensible footwear, clothing and sunscreen
Don’t consider heading to the fiestas in anything but trainers or sneakers, trousers, hat and sunscreen. They are dress down occasions where you will be walking a lot in the sun and on sand covered streets with people and horses.
- Watch from a safe distance and always be aware of whats around you
There are no baracades designating the path that the parade takes or a schedule of timed events to follow. Treat the streets of the town with people and horses as if they were cars and look both ways when walking – both left and right and forward and behind you. Most of the time you will see the horses coming, but there are always some surprises. You will be able to see from a far where the horses are more active, and where the quieter moments are where they are resting and waiting to move on.
- Take a camera, but take extra care
Fantastic photo opportunity, but see point number 2, as you wouldn’t stand in the middle of a street full of moving cars to take a photo, don’t do the same in front of the horses!
- Try the local food and drink
Enjoy the traditional food and drink of the fiestas, but watch that gin and lemon as it washes down well. With the heat, sugar and dehydration, its essential to drink a glass of water in between those gins to keep yourself in form. That’s the way the locals keep going for so long, mixing good food and water in between the gins!
- Respect the horses, riders and the town
Even though the horses and riders are very experienced, they are people and animals, not machines. Give them the space and respect to do what they love. Fiesta days are long days for them without the gin and they must be alert at all times of everything going on around them – just as we all are when driving on the road. The riders are always smiling and the horses always calm and under control. Its not the running of the bulls, accidents occur only when the spectators are distracted or behaving badly. Thankfully they are rare.
Remember that you are visitor in the home town of the Menorcan people, and even though their doors are open, their homes are for invitation only and they are sharing the streets where they live for the fiestas. Treat them the way you would treat your own home and street and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. You will never forget it!