Celebrate 'Nit de Foc' in Palma, Majorca

The people of Palma know how to start summer with a bang. Each June the day before the Fiesta of St. Juan, residents of the Majorcan capital celebrate with the Nit de Foc (Night of Fire).  Even though the temperature in this region has been rising for several months by now, this midsummer's eve mayhem marks the official beginning of the season.

Its roots lie in pagan rituals, when flames were used to scare off witches and evil winter spirits.  Now, the fiery fiesta is one of Majorca's biggest parties, with everyone embracing the longest day of carousing into the early morning hours.

The action centres on Parque de la Mar, the little lake in front of Palma's glorious Gothic cathedral.  Get there at dusk to secure a spot and graze the food stalls, then expect all hell to let loose.

As darkness falls, devils dash through the streets, swinging torches amid the crowds, setting sparks flying.  Towering bonfires are set alight, and the air fizzes with firecrackers and fireworks, exploding to the frenzied beat of demon drummers.  The whole of Palma's seashores seems to sizzle.  It's quite a shebang, but not the only option as St. Juan is celebrated across the island.

Most of Majorca's beautiful beaches will be ablaze with bonfires and lively with locals revelling past dawn. Note, it's customary to take a dip in the sea at midnight.  It's also said that if you write a wish on a scrap of paper and then set it alight at exactly midnight, that wish will come true.