The Sant Sebastià festival
Fireworks, dragons, giant costumed heads and “xeremiers” (musical events) take to the streets in honour of the patron saint of Palma
There is one date underlined in red on Palma’s calendar: 20 January. In other words, the festival of Sant Sebastià (Saint Sebastian), the patron saint of Palma. In fact, it is not just this one day; the days before and after are all seen as festival days and a unique atmosphere is created all around the city. You really should experience it at least once in your life.
The best night is without doubt the night of the 19 January, which sees the traditional verbena (“revetlla” in Catalan) dances of Sant Sebastià. Locals come out onto the street and light bonfires (“foguerons” in Catalan) which are used to organise communal barbecues (here, we call them “torradoras”, literally ‘toasters’, as they are used to ‘toast’ the meat). But no matter how much we tell you about it, you need to come and see it for yourself, it is amazing!
The festival unfolds around the fire: concerts, giant costumed heads and also “xeremiers”, musical events involving the “xeremía”, a wind instrument typically found in the Balearic Islands, related to bagpipes.
Beware of the dragon!
If you are lucky enough to be in Palma on the night of 19 January, you will also get to meet our dragon: el Drac de na Coca. A crocodile-like dragon, it terrified the people of Palma, rampaging through the streets in the 17th century. Captain Bartomeu Coch was the hero who killed it. His family gave the crocodile’s body to Mallorca’s Museum of Religious Art, where you can still see it to this day.
Fire, a key feature of the Sant Sebastià festival, is also present in the traditional “Correfoc” parades.
The children have a great time
The Sant Sebastià festival is for everyone. Including children, of course. In fact, every year the Sant Sebastià Petit (Sant Sebastià for the little ones) is held, and includes magic, a circus and music. The children take part in activities held in the Sa Riera park.