San Antonio and San Sebastian heat up the island
The next few days will see a raucous island wide celebration of the patron saint of animals, San Antonio, and Palma's very own saint, San Sebastian. San Antonio kicks off the proceedings in almost every town and village across the island on the 17th.
Understandably, animals which have played an important part in the lives of rural folk for centuries, are blessed by the local priest, however these days it's more than sheep and goats that are splashed with holy water. People queue up for the benediction of traditional pets like cats and dogs – no fighting on San Antonio day please – along with more unusual pets like lizards, parrots, hamsters and so on ensuring an interesting day for all.
Now the raucous bit of the fiesta comes with the consumption of lots of wine, bonfires, and demons let loose throughout the streets of the towns with fireworks, smoke, and dragons belching flames. It's mayhem, but it's fun!
In Palma, the city celebrates San Sebastian who was declared the city's patron saint after one of his bones (he'd been long dead at the time) cured a plague epidemic in Palma when it was brought there in 1524. There's an enormous programme of entertainment and activities going on over the next few days – the council have splashed €400,000 – and I've whittled down the programme highlighting what's best for an international (you and me) audience.
19:30 - Opening ceremony in the Plaza de Cort with traditional dancing giants and big heads and a concert by the Mallorca Gay Men's Chorus
Concert by the Three Baritones in the Principal Theatre at 20:00 and a Rock concert with five bands in the Plaza de Cort at 21:00
The blessing of the animals, starting at 10:00 in front of the cathedral and a medieval family fun day at Bellver Castle from 10:00 to 14:00
Palma Pop 40 concert in the Plaza Espana at 21:00. Five bands play for a younger audience
The big night, the Eve of San Sebastian, when there is live music throughout the city with each plaza hosting a different style and all the artists chosen by the public in an internet vote!
Plaza Major, from 19:00 – Giants, dragons, folk, followed by la agrupación Folklórica Verbena de Sant Antoni, Al Mayurqa, Els Catarres and Pirates Pirats
Plaza Espana, from 22:00 - Pepet i Marieta, Boc, Els Pets and Wally López
Plaza Juan Carlos I from 20:30 - Xarxa, Helevorn, The Full Metal Jacket and Mago de Oz.
Plaza de Cort, from 20:30 - Madona, Tomeu Penya, Dinamo and Orrifar.
Plaza de la Reina, from 22:00 - Navajita Plateá, Mojinos Escocíos and La Vereda
Plaza del Olivar, from 21:30 - Monkey Doo, Rumba Katxai and Danny Romero
Plaza de Sant Domingo, from 21:30 - Vintage Rockers, Appetite for Illusion, Trallery and Ses Bubotes
La Llonja, from 21:30 - Cécile & The Fernetiks, Le Carromato, Andrea Motis & Joan Chamorro Group and Saxophobia Funk Project.
Concert by Ojos de Serpiente and Celtas Cortos in the Plaza Espana at 21:00
Gypsy Flamenco festival with four groups in the Plaza del Olivar at 20:00
Fireworks night! The 'Correfoc' starts from the Plaza Porta Santa Catalina preceded by a display of castellers (human castles) at 21:00 and the big parade of 6 groups of demons, two fire breathing dragons, and 6 batucadas – over 400 participants in all, sets off at 22:00. They parade with sparks, fireworks and firecrackers in a disorderly fashion along the Paseo Mallorca, Jaime III and down to the Plaza Juan Carlos.
If you're going, remember to cover up well, keep your distance, and enjoy yourselves!