A Year Long Spectacle
Jávea's fiestas are a product of the zeal and passion with which the locals practice their deep and unshakable religiosity. To the casual observer, it would seem that the Javeans take advantage of every excuse to throw a party. Jávea offers a wide range of celebrations which have unfolded over the years from both the Maritime history and Mediterranean traditions of its people: the chief protagonists in whatever festivals take place throughout the year. Religious and pagan festivals thread through the festive calendar with one common denominator: the participation of the people. Jávea misses no opportunity to display the open and extroverted character of its inhabitants.
There is at least one fiesta celebrated every month. During the summer months and the Christmas season, there seems to be one each day! Here are some of the important and notable fiestas celebrated in Jávea.
January is the tail end of the Christmas season, and this month is loaded with festivals. The first month of the year kicks off with the celebration of Los Reyes Magos – The Three Kings on January 5th. A procession takes place commemorating the journey of the three wise men to the site of Jesus’ birth.
A weekend festival takes place in the middle of the month in honor of San Antonio Abad, which starts off with the blessing of the animals and the handing out of “sacred” bread at the Plaza de la Constitucion at the old town. The month ends with a fiesta in honor of Javea’s patron saint, San Sebastian on the 20th.
A carnival highlights the month of February. In the evening of the 18th a fancy dress procession takes place, with prizes awarded to the best dressed. The night ends with some vigorous street dancing to a full orchestra and disco music.
March hosts the curious Entierro de la Sardina, the burial of the sardine. The strange ritual is said to have originated during the reign of Carlos III back in the 18th century. A large shipment of sardines landed in the port of Madrid, the country’s capital. At a loss on what to do with all that fish, the government gave them away to the people. Unfortunately the sardines had gone bad, so the people had to bury them. The experience was so much fun it became a yearly event all throughout the country, including Jávea.
An Artisan Craft Fair during the middle (5th - 8th) of April showcases the works of local artists and craftsmen. On the third Sunday of Lent, the image of Jesús Nazareno is brought down from the chapel of Calvario in solemn procession to the church of San Bartolomé, where it will stay until the end of the festivities. On Good Friday - el viernes santos - the image is carried through the streets of Jávea in another emotional cavalcade to mark this significant event in Christian mythology. And then, at the end of April, the festivities begin. A very important celebration in which you can see, and often join in, a range of both religious and social events which include dancing in the streets and bull-running.
June is best fiesta time in Javea, beginning with a sort of beauty and popularity contest, the Proclamation of Queens at the Plaza de la Constitucion. The second week sees the start of one of the most important and the most anticpated fiesta of the year, Fiestas of Sant Juan/A celebration of Midsummer. During the 2 week fiesta there are numerous elaborate processions along the streets of the old town, and the days end with fantastic fireworks displays. This year is especially significant because the remarkable Nit dels Focs, celebrated on June 23rd, has been awarded the distinction of Fiesta de Interés Local de la Comunitat Valenciana and such a generous declaration means that the event is bound to be the biggest yet and something you will never forget! Papier-mâché monuments, sometimes alluding to current affairs, decorate the streets of Jávea, reminiscent of the ancient tradition of burning old junk on the 23rd of June in the magical belief of purifying body and soul before the summer solstice. The “Focs de Sant Joan”, which light the streets of the town, are small bonfires over which young people leap, one by one, wearing garlands and flowers which are burned when the last fire has been jumped. The celebration isn't complete without the wild flaming horn bull run and the burning of the "foguera," papier mache statues. The finale of the fiesta is celebrated at midnight on the 24th June with spectacular fireworks to music.
This is our favourite fiesta, its addictive nature and the camaraderie that invites everyone to forget their worries and come together to celebrate whatever it is they want to believe in, whether it be the birth of John the Baptist or an observance of Midsummer.
The month closes out with an International Festival, an event that captures the diversity of Jávea's population which boasts representatives from more than 80 different countries, offering the best dishes from around the world, as well as music performances by various local and international artists.
July belongs to the Javea port area, and it starts with a week-long pilgrimage to the Virgen del Rocio. One week later, a procession of fishing boats sets out to sea carrying an image of the Virgin Mary to offer flowers out in the middle of the bay. Another week later, the famous re-enactment of the battle between the Moors and Christians takes place out on the shore. This is a must-see for the awesome spectacle, the colorful costumes, and the history.
This year, more fiesta fun will take place at the port area from August to September as Javea celebrates Mare de Deu de Loreto, in honour of the Virgin of Loreto, who is said to have once spared the lives of Javea fishermen caught in a storm out at sea. Masses, processions, bull runs, parties, games and all sorts of fun activities will make this two-month fiesta a whirlwind of festivities.
October celebrates of The Day of the Valencian Community, commemorating the liberation of Valencia from the Moors by King James I of Aragon in 1238. Nightly fireworks displays lead up to this important fiesta.
December starts with the Fiesta of Santa Lucia on 10th December. In the morning a procession will walk up to the Ermita, followed by a celebratory Mass with chocolate and churros (sweet pastries) that are handed out. Although Javeans celebrate in January (during the feast of the Three Kings), this month is nevertheless special. A giant nativity scene is set up in the old town, and colourful lanterns light up the town.