Bull-running, battles and bands: A guide to Javea’s fiestas

The beautiful beach resort of Javea is a great place for a party. The beach, Montgo mountain and old town make impressive backdrops for the fiestas that Javea hosts throughout the year.

Bull-running, great bands, boisterous battle re-enactments for the Moors and Christians fiesta, bonfires on the beach and colourful fireworks displays form part of the celebrations held in Javea.

You will find fiestas going on most months from the arrival of the Three Kings in January,  bull-running for San Sebastian, carnival, midsummer bonfires, music and dance festivals, gastronomy events including a tapas trail, Living Chess, Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.

Spain-holiday has chosen six of the best Javea festivals held in honour of local traditions as well as celebrating Javea’s international community.

Javea Arenal

Fiesta of Our Lady of Loreto

Javea’s fiesta in honour of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady certainly packs a punch. Don’t be fooled by the fiesta’s title as this is one of the best events in Javea’s full fiesta calendar, in our opinion.

The main attraction of the fiesta is bull-running with a difference. Called bous a la mar, the bulls charge through the streets with happy revellers trying to keep several paces in front of them until they reach a makeshift bullring in the port.

Bous a la mar bull-running in Javea

The ring is open at one end, next to the sea, as the aim is to lure the animals into the water. The sea also provides a great escape route for the brave – or foolhardy – people in the bullring if they feel they are getting a bit too close to the bull’s horns or feet.

The fiesta also involves a lot of food, flower offerings to the Virgin, live music, giant paellas and a special parade on September 8, which is the feast day of Our Lady of Loreto.

Barcelona - Fiesta de la Merce, correfoc

One night at around midnight there is also a dramatic parade with fireworks called correfocs with artistes making fabulous spectacles with fire and music.

Bull-running also features heavily in the fiesta for Javea’s patron saint, San Sebastian, in January and the San Juan festival in June.

Living Chess

We love this fiesta for its originality and quirkiness. Towards the end of July or beginning of August, Javea port becomes a giant chess board with schoolchildren playing the part of the pieces.

The drama is played out like a game of chess with the young players making the moves – literally – with different choreography and music. 

A narrator calls out each move with a special celebrity guest being invited to help tell the story of Living Chess. The celebrity is usually either someone connected to the world of chess or who has links with Javea.

Javea International Festival

Javea celebrates its cosmopolitan make-up with the annual Javea International Festival held towards the end of June.

Food festivals in Javea

 It’s a great chance to try food from around the world such as Germany, Holland, Brazil, Cuba, Great Britain, Poland and Indonesia, as well as enjoy music and dancing. The gastronomy is a major attraction as you can try morsels from around the world right here in Javea.

Altogether 20 countries take part in the fiesta which gets bigger and more exciting each year.

There’s always fabulous live music with Adam King and Allerton Road taking to the main stage this year with a great mix of funk and rock to get people dancing the night away.

San Juan bonfires and satirical statues

San Juan and hogueras in Javea

Midsummer madness hits Javea in earnest in June when the town celebrates San Juan with bonfires on the beach and erects satirical statues in the street to be burned on that night. The statues are very similar to the fallas fiesta celebrating St Joseph’s day in March in the Valencia region.

Obvious, the fallas fiesta is a huge tourist attraction and so some towns in the Alicante province decided to copy it in celebration of San Juan. The colourful statues are put up in the streets a few days before San Juan on June 24 for the fiesta known as hogueras (also called fogueres).

At the end of the fiesta, these works of art are burnt to a cinder.

On the eve of San Juan, bonfires are lit for people to jump over at midnight to bring good luck. There is also a theatrical ‘nit dels foc’ with another correfocs spectacular involving artistes, fire and music.

As with so many other festivals, the San Juan party also involves giant paellas, bull-running and live music.

Moors and Christians battle it out

Summer is certainly a good time to visit Javea with so many fiestas to enjoy.

In July the streets of Javea are filled with the sound of gunpowder and music as the rival groups of Moors and Christians re-enact running battles together with live music, parades, a medieval fair and fireworks.

Moors and Christians fiesta in Alicante

The Moors and Christians festival commemorates the 700 years or more when the Moors ruled large parts of Spain to the 15th century when the Christians reclaimed the land.

It’s a very loud affair with fantastic costumes, colourful armour and faces painted to look like fighting warriors. With flags flying high and bands playing throughout the parades, it is a very dramatic-looking and noisy time.

Carnival capers in Javea

Carnival is a last chance to party before 40 days of Lent. Imaginative floats and party-lovers in fancy dress take part in the carnival parade through the picturesque streets of Javea’s old town.

Javea old town

The children’s parade is held first and then it’s the adults turn to dress up and party into the night. Themes can be traditional cartoons, the latest films or pop superstars through the ages, the choice is yours.

A week after carnival there is the ceremonial Burial of the Sardine, It’s a satirical burial which is played out throughout Spain to mark the end of carnival. It is also a symbolic gesture to bury the past and to allow new growth and regeneration.

You can visit the official Javea tourist information website for details on when the fiestas are being held and the full programme.