By Nicole Hallett
THE ‘Hogueras de San Juan’ midsummer bonfire festival takes place this week and weekend.
On Saturday night, people will gather at different venues along the coast for various rituals, including jumping over fires, to banish demons and bring good luck for the next year.
In many towns, larger than life effigies made of wood, paper and cork, often comically depicting politicians and/or celebrities, are burnt to the ground Sunday evening.
This year the effigies are located in Barrios de La Punta, El Acequion and Molinos del Calvario in Torrevieja.
One of the tallest is 10m.
The bonfires will take place around midnight Sunday.
On Saturday night most of the activity will take place on Paseo Juan Aparicio, close to the artificial pools on the waterfront.
The fireworks display set to music called ‘Grand Castle of Fireworks’ will start at midnight.
Last year more than 5,000 people attended the event.
It is traditional for families and friends to gather on the beach before nightfall and build small bonfires on the beach and share food.
People jump over the embers three times to banish demons and bring good luck for the next year.
In Lorca there is a free ‘night gymkhana’ inside the castle from 9pm with games and quizzes and a dance performance and bonfire.
In Alicante City the festivities are taking place over six days ending Sunday night.
Some of the effigies are around 20m high.
Due to cuts to the festival’s budget, the amount spent this year in Alicante was €557,000, €40,000 less than last year and the prize fund for the best effigies was reduced from €28,750 to €17,000.
However, the city will still offer processions, music and light, good foot and various concerts.
Security forces have been stepped up with 352 local police officers, 160 fire-men and 120 Civil Protection volunteers on duty.
Due to the festivities, around 300 roads are cut to traffic and bus routes modified until Monday.
The town hall has urged people to use the buses to get to the various festivities.