Ibiza — Festivals and Events
Ibiza is a largely Catholic nation like Spain, so many of the festivals and events revolve around the religious calendar. Easter Holy Week is a major occasion with elaborate processions being common across the Balearic Islands on Good Friday. It is an interesting quirk that Spain’s major gift giving day is not on December 25, as in most Christian countries, but on January 6 when the Three Kings arrived bearing presents.
Feast of the Epiphany
Celebrations begin on the evening of January 5, where the costumed Three Kings arrived in the port of Ibiza by ship to join an elaborate procession of floats. The parade moves through town, stopping to bless Baby Jesus at the church before congregating in the square where the names of children receiving gifts are read by the Magi. The next day is the Feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the arrival of the three kings in Bethlehem. The children wake to find Los Reyes Magos (the kings) have left presents if they have been good or coal (chocolate shaped like coal) if they have been bad.
Ibiza’s Carnaval is a mardi gras style celebration that usually takes place in February, 40 days before Easter. Marking the last party before the Catholic fast of Lent, the week-long festival features fancy costumes, food, cart racing from the hill of old town to Vara de Rey, concerts in the Plaza del Parque, a parade, a children’s fiesta, live music, barbeques, street stalls, dancing, and general merriment. Most of the action is around central park and the harbor.
Semana Santa, or Easter, the Christian crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the major religious occasion in Ibiza in early April. Good Friday processions are one of the main events where hundreds of hooded followers from various "brotherhoods" carry sacred statues of saints around town. The Santa Eulalia parade begins in the market at 10:00 a.m. and includes a reenactment of the Stations of the Cross. The processional ends at the church high on the hill at the town’s entrance. There is a midday concert in the square, and then the procession continues to the Chapel of Lourdes in the town center at 8:00 p.m.
Ibiza International film Festival
The Ibiza International Film Festival (IFF) has been hosted every May since 2007, and features movie screenings leading up to an extravagant awards ceremony. "The independent spirit" slogan reflects the event's premise to celebrate films in 17 categories, such as best picture and script. The prize is a Falcó d’Or, a statuette of the cliff-nesting Eleonora Falcon of Ibiza, which also gives a nod to the movie, the Maltese Falcon.
First Sunday in May
The first Sunday in May sees the town of Santa Eulalia shut down for a fiesta to commemorate the miraculous 14th century collapse of a church roof after everyone had vacated. The event is celebrated with a massive parade of decorated horse-drawn carriages, riders and the municipal band. In modern times, the event has also attracted antique car clubs, agricultural equipment, races, and food.
Dia del Carmen
Virgin del Carmen, the patron saint of the fisherman, has her day on July 16 every year, which is a public holiday in the fishing towns of Ibiza and San Antonio. Celebrations include parades such as the colorful water procession through Ibiza town, and feature flower-filled boats that congregate around the harbor. The seaside town of Portinatx has one of the more notable fiestas with boats laying wreaths at sea. There are also concerts, feasting, street stalls, and beach parties.
Christmas is an important religious celebration in Ibiza, where popular Christmas markets and fairs lead up to Christmas Eve. Vara del Rey Plaza is the center for civic celebrations, decked out as a winter wonderland with decorated stalls and a massive tree. Ibiza’s Christmas lights are usually turned on by December 1, and intricate nativity scenes start to appear halfway through the month. Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena (Goodnight), is characterized by family get togethers for drinks and food followed by midnight mass. Many restaurants offer special set menus on Christmas day, which need to be booked in advance.