Culture | Fiestas
1-2 August (Sant Gaietà de Llucmaçanes and Sant Cristófol d’Es Migjorn Gran), 9-10 August (Sant Llorenç Alaior), 15-16 August (Sant Climent), 23-24 August (Sant Bartomeu de Ferreires) and 29-30 August (Sant Lluís), 2014
From June to September, frenetic open-air Fiestas swept across Menorca. They were a tradition exclusive to this ordinarily peaceful island, so should not have been missed by any visitor who wanted an authentic taste of folklore and culture. Named after the patron saint of each town, they took place along the main streets and were watched by crowds of inhabitants. There were religious ceremonies, music and fireworks, but the centerpiece was the parade of Menorcan thoroughbred horses and their riders (caixers or cavallers), who performed a trick known as the jaleo, where they reared up on their hind legs while daring passersby try to touch the place where the horse’s heart is. Although that sounds hazardous, the horses are meticulously trained and watched over by their riders, who are extremely protective of them, and no problems for animals or humans have ever been encountered. Those who wanted to witness this tradition had an ample choice in August of 2014, with six towns holding their Fiestas that month.
Music | Terrassa Concerts Es Claustre
1 and 8 August, 2014
For those who were looking for something a little more relaxed, the Terrassa Concerts Es Claustre series should have been an enjoyable way to unwind in the evenings. Held in the picturesque setting of the cloisters of the 18th century Carme Convent, these regular gatherings showcased the work of popular Catalan musicians. The final two concerts of 2014, on 1 and 8 August, were given over to La iaia and Muchachito y sus Compadres, respectively; the former is a three-piece band who has won regional awards for their mellow musical style and engaging rapport with audiences, while the latter is a multo-instrumentalist and singer (Muchachito), joined by his friends, guitarist El Ratón and on-stage painter Santós de Veracruz.
Music | Nits al Port
7, 14 and 21 August, 2014
The lively annual festival Nits al Port (Catalan for ‘Nights at the Port’) took place in the bustling coastal district of Mahón, where visitors can find a variety of independent shops and restaurants as well as enjoy the gleaming sea views. Every Thursday night from mid-June until 21 August 2014, local musicians and dance groups of all styles took over a different section of the harbour to perform to an enthusiastic crowd. The festival was also accompanied by a popular photography competition, the winners of which enjoyed a stay in the four-star Hotel Port Ciutadella.
Held in various locations around the harbour in Mahón, Menorca, Spain, +34 971 36 98 00
Music | XLI Festival de Música de Maó
Until 26 August, 2014
This well-established classical music festival featured six concerts in 2014, four of which happened in August of 2014. The first, on 6 August, offered a rare opportunity to hear two concertos by Bach for two keyboards in C minor (BWV 1060 and BWV 1062), as well as Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 in F minor and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A major – all this courtesy of internationally renowned pianists Emili Brugalla and Vesko Stambolov, world-class violinist Farran James and the Orquestra de Cambra Illa de Menorca. Then on 13 August, Barcelona-based choir Música Reservata joined the award-winning organist of the Sagrada Família, Juan de la Rubia, for a recital of some of Arvo Pärt’s haunting music. On 20 and 21 August, local theater group La Clota, dance troupe Tal i Tal and the Orquestra de Cambra Illa de Menorca collaborated to give a spectacular performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. Finally, on 26 August, the much-admired counter-tenor Carlos Mena sang works by Vaughan Williams, Britten, Guridi, Isasi, Ibañez and Iglesias, accompanied by pianist Susana García de Salazar.
XLI Festival de Musica de Mao, Teatre Principal de Maó, c/Costa d’en Deia 40, Mahón, Menorca, Spain, +34 971 355 603, +34 626 683 244
History and Literature | Ruta Francesc D’Albranca 2014
Every Tuesday at 7:30pm, summer 2014
The free guided tour known as Ruta Francesc D’Albranca is an annual summer occurrence in the small town of Es Migjorn Gran. Lasting one and a half hours, it highlights significant places in the life of Francesc Camps i Mercadal (1852-1929, usually known as Francesc D’Albranca), a local doctor who painstakingly collected traditional Menorcan songs and stories, and who thus became revered by historians as one of the most helpful and significant contributors to the preservation of the island’s past. Starting at the public library, where some of his original volumes are housed, 2014’s tour took place in his family home, the places where he worshipped as a devout Christian, the site of his burial, and the school that is now named after him, before returning to the library to view some of his most interesting writings. In its remote rural location, Es Migjorn Gran is a part of Menorca not often seen by tourists, so this tour should have been an informative way to experience some of its scenic, tranquil charm, as well as an engaging event for history and folklore enthusiasts.
Music | Nits de Música al Carrer
Every Tuesday, summer 2014
A sister festival to Nits al Port, Nits de Música al Carrer (Catalan for ‘Nights of Music in the Street’) was bigger than ever in 2014, its fourth edition. Since June, musicians from across the island played weekly in eight outdoor venues around the centre of the capital. The specially extended opening hours of surrounding shops and added to the vibrant atmosphere. Virtually all tastes were catered for, with jazz, blues, pop, funk, flamenco, classical and more featuring on the 2014 program, which was announced a few days in advance of each session on the Facebook page. As with Nits al Port, attendees could enter their photos into a Facebook competition, with publicity and prizes to be won.
Held in various locations across Mahón, Menorca, Spain, +34 971 36 98 00
Culture | Mercados de Noche
1, 8 and 15 August, 2014
A key component of Menorca’s cultural fabric, the Mercados de Noche (‘night markets’) were worth visiting not just for avid souvenir hunters but also for anyone who wanted to see the most skilled local craftsmen in action, try some delicious food and watch entertaining performances. In August 2014 there were two markets to choose from. Alaior, Menorca’s third largest town after Mahón and Ciutadella, offered a mercado centred around its particular specialities, with a workshop on cooking with cheese on 20 August, a ham-themed event hosted by the delicatessen on 13 August, and a showcase of traditional music and dance on that same evening. The market in Ferreires (another of the island’s hotspots), meanwhile, had a more generally cultural focus, with a painting demonstration on 1 August, a children’s story-telling session on 8 August and various musical shows.
Held in Alaior and Ferreires
Music | Audición de guitarra española
Every Saturday, summer 2014
One of the island’s most popular musical groups, the Balearic Guitar Foundation, will gave a restful recital of traditional Spanish guitar pieces in Mahón’s principal church (which is a stunningly beautiful place to visit any day of the week). Consisting of three men and one woman, who all come from Mahón, the band was highly skilled and gave a taste of all the styles of guitar music that can be found in Spain, with pieces from various different regions. This was a relaxing way to discover one of the musical genres most associated with the country.
Art and History | Vaca’ Street Art and Eines i feines del Camp
Until 30 September, 2014
As well as attracting visitors to its animated night market, Alaior hosted two exhibitions in August of 2014. Those interested in contemporary art might have recognized the premise of Vaca’ Street Art. Earlier in 2014, thirteen local artists were each given a model of a cow to paint in any style, and twelve of the painted cows were later placed outdoors in various spots around Alaior, to encourage visitors to explore the town in search of them (the thirteenth welcomes flyers at Menorca Airport in Mahón). Known as the Cows on Parade movement, this was a great success in Zurich, Chicago and over 50 other places around the world and it was hoped that art lovers in Alaior would greet the colorful creatures with equal enthusiasm. Continuing the agricultural theme, there was Eines i feines del Camp, an exploration of the tools, animals and strategies past inhabitants of the town used to make a living from farming. This was held in the highly regarded Convento de Sant Diego cultural center, and it should have been a thought-provoking visit for anyone who likes history and the countryside.
Vaca’ Street Art can be seen in various locations across Alaior; click here for a route map.
Art | NURA Antoni Cladera
Until 30 September, 2014
This exhibition by award-winning Mallorcan photographer Antoni Cladera (1967-present) promised to reveal a spectacular side of Menorca visitors rarely have the privilege to see. Shot at night-time in wild rural spots, the vivid images, saturated with deep blues, greens and purples, depicted the island’s coast and countryside lying peacefully under a glittering sky. The title ‘NURA’ was taken from a poem by Ponç Pons (1956-present, arguably Menorca’s most famous poet) and refers to the Balearic landscape he sees as gradually losing its unique natural qualities, due to careless human intervention. Alongside this fascinating exhibition, Cladera ran two night photography workshops on 19 July and 2 August, which gave participants the priceless opportunity to try out his techniques on the outdoor panorama of the Fortaleza de Isabel II, the exhibition’s venue. This 16th-century fortress, sometimes called La Mola de Menorca, is interesting to visit for history enthusiasts at any time, as it played a key role in defending the island for over three hundred years.
NURA, Fortaleza de Isabel II (also known as La Mola de Menorca), Carretera Mola, Mahón, Menorca, Spain, +34 971 36 40 40 or +34 686 65 94 00
By Jessica Woodward
Updated January 2016 by Cristina Tomàs White