All fired up over festival

Every year, in the days surrounding the summer solstice, the streets of Alicante, in eastern Spain, are lined with intricate monuments made of foam, wood, cardboard and other combustible materials.

From June 19 to 24, the city celebrates the Hogueras de Alicante, or Bonfires of Alicante, with six long days of parades, music and drinking.

The festival culminates in Nit de la Crema, or Night of the Burning, where there is a symbolic destruction of evils. Monuments and ninots (caricature effigies of celebrities and politicians) are burned in several bonfires all over the city, each representing an Alicante neighbourhood.

At midnight on June 24, the festival reaches a climax when a fireworks display, launched from Mount Benacantil and visible to the entire city, signals the beginning of Nit de la Crema.

Firefighters typically keep watch and hose down the fires that are too close to the crowd and historic buildings.

Despite a period in the 19th century when bonfires and fireworks were prohibited by the local council, the tradition survived, and the Bonfires of Alicante was made an official festival in 1928.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'All fired up over festival'. Print Edition | Subscribe