Each summer, during the third week of July, the popular Sant Marti Festival takes place in Es Mercadal,which is found right in the center of Spain's beautiful island of Menorca. A traditional festival that celebrates Sant Marti, it's also the time when the locals show off their magnificent native horses with some amazing shows. Parades, street dances, live musical entertainment, plenty of delicious food, fireworks, special activities for the children and a festive party atmosphere make for a grand time for adults and children, and visitors are more than welcome to attend and participate.
The festivities kick off with the blow of a whistle, and the crowds are entertained by a flute and drum performance. This is followed by a large parade that features the talented local band, which marches through the streets with frequent stops to perform during several points on the parade route. The popular big-headed giants march in the parade as well and are followed by the entire cavalcade of beautifully adorned horses and their equally stunning medieval-costumed riders.
Highlights of the horse exhibition include the Jaleos, which actually feature the horses standing and jumping on their back legs as they dance to the band's fiesta music. Tradition allows the crowd to attempt to touch the horses while they stand on their back legs, and those who are successful may expect a year of good luck. Those worried about safety may want to stand back and observe it from a distance. The Caragols are also greatly anticipated, and these showcase each rider taking their horse in elaborate prancing circles in a beautiful display.
The first day of the festival officially ends with a religious ceremony in the Church of Sant Marti, and candles are handed out to everyone who wants to participate. Those of all religious backgrounds are welcome.
Days and Nights
It's important to note that this is a festival that is definitely family friendly during the day, and the children are sure to enjoy the elaborate parades and the dancing horses from a safe distance. The riders take extremely good care of their horses and allow them to rest often. During these rest times, parents are encouraged to bring their children over to see the horses and pet them. There's also an area set up specifically for the kids with a bounce house and other child-friendly activities available.
However, those traveling with children will most likely want to get a sitter in the evenings. It's a big street party at night with lots of wild dancing to live music, great food and flowing alcohol. On the last night of the festival, those of all ages are welcome to attend the spectacular display of fireworks that closes out the event for another year.