A celebration of the Islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera took place on Albert Square, Manchester during 3 days of festivities and entertainment between 1st and 4th May 2009.
It was all for free and there was music, entertainment, horses, parades, firework displays, food and drink, arts and crafts held under the shadow of the beautiful Town Hall. The weather was reasonable and the bit of rain didn`t stop the festivities because the huge transparent marquee which was built to accommodate everything, protected most of the proceedings. Nothing was going to spoil the fun.
The event was family-friendly with things to do and see for all ages.
THE FAMILY MARQUEE
On three days there was a parade from the bottom of Market Street, along Cross Street to Albert Square. Performers such as the famous Giants, devils, musicians, circus performers and stilt walkers made their way to Albert Square to the main marquee and the delights and fun entertainment. Over 100 performers paraded daily and helped to create a fun atmosphere in the city.
For children and parents there was a family marquee on Albert Square next to the stage area. Storytelling, face painting, recycling workshops and games took place throughout the day from 11am to 8pm on Saturday and Sunday and 11am to 5pm on Monday where hundreds of children enjoyed learning and creating within a secure environment.
THE MAIN MARQUEE
The centrepiece to the Festival in Albert Square was a huge marquee. Throughout the day and evenings there was music and entertainment on the stage, horse dressage in the arena, artisan demonstrations and food and drink sampling.
The music and entertainment was traditional and contemporary, fun and magical. We were also privileged to have 9 beautiful Minorcan horses demonstrating the Island`s unique style of dressage. Taking place throughout the day in the horse arena, it`s something you cannot afford to miss.
For those interested in arts and crafts, we had artisan stalls from Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Craftsmen and women demonstrated their unique skills in woodwork, needlework, pottery, musical instruments etc.
Finally there was food and drinks to sample. On the menu were almonds (3 types prepared in different ways), Orlettes (sweet biscuits), Oil Biscuits, Sobrasada (pork red sausage), Ensaimada and Flao (cakes) and cheese as well as wine and Pomada (Gin and Lemonade). We also had herbs from Ibiza.
During the day there was also entertainment by street performers, circus performers, street bands and much, much more, which all added to the Mediterranean atmosphere, in the centre of Manchester.
BANDS AND MUSIC
S'ESTOI DEL REI EN JAUME
Wonderbrass is a musical combo that draws from musical sources such as the Muppets, along with black jazz from the 1920s and their own music. What`s fun about them is that they know how to dramatise this music, intermingling humorous monologues, jokes, mime and a fast pace throughout the entire show.
Xalandrí is a group of 6 Menorcans with a deep-rooted interest in the island's traditions. The music it plays is mainly by Minorcan composers, with charming melodies always associated with the island`s coves, ancient legends, evocative love stories and, needless to say, many songs dedicated to seafaring life.
Paco Fernandez will offer a Mediterranean show inspired by white and the Spanish guitar in which the musical avant-garde will be spotlighted. Visually, he will be accompanied by the flamenco dancer Eva Redondo and a group of break-dancers. A fusion of flamenco, jazz and hip hop with a spectacular stage show.
The group S`Estol del Rei en Jaume (King James` Gang) is made up of nine characters inspired by Father Alcover`s tales and the history and tradition of Mallorca. The characters from the gang have participated in a variety of fairs and events rooted in tradition.
We are pleased to introduce this group of riders who have come from Menorca with their Menorcan bred horses, to give you a glimpse into the culture of this Mediterranean island and offer you an exhibition of skills on horseback.
This horse has historically had a close relationship to the people of Menorca. As far back as the 14th century, these horses were pivotal in the Menorcan defence system, associated to the Camí de Cavalls [Horse route], a coastal bridle path that ringed the island. These horses are also star performers in Menorca`s festivals.See Menorca page
Recognition of this race is thanks to the work of the Associació de criadors i propietaris de cavalls de raca menorquina [Menorca Horse Breeders and Owners Association], an organisation which since the eighties has been working to improve and promote this unique breed, of which there are currently around 1500 registered animals. These magnificent horses with their black coats have fine silhouettes, muscular, arched necks and billowing manes.
They are hot-blooded, noble animals, defined by their sober character, with limitless stamina and energy to work.They stand out for their aptitude as a riding or harness horse, as well as being considered the best adapted breed to participate in the traditional festivals held in different villages on the island.
Thanks to these traditional festivals the discipline of Minorcan dressage has arisen, a classification on its own, whose characteristic and differentiating element is the bot, consisting of a high raising of the front quarters, transferring weight onto the hind quarters, and the moviments menorquins [Menorcan dressage movements], described as an active rotation of the hind quarters around the fore quarters at the trot.
Also characteristic are the costumes of both horses and riders. The jockey's garments are inspired on the dress worn in Minorca during the 18th and 19th centuries. Also the horses` harness and decorations, created by skilled craftspeople, are exclusive.
They displayed group choreographies at the trot, demonstrate the typical bots and movements of Menorcan dressage, combined with professional riding school exercises, accompanied by music from the island.
SEE VIDEOS OF THE HORSES HERE...
THE DEVIL'S FIRE DISPLAY
This was a spectacle to behold. At 9.00pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as it went dark on Albert Square, the devils appeared and performed for us. This was an exciting display of fireworks and dance usually only experienced in the Islands during festivals. It was preferable to watch the display from a safe distance whilst it unraveled before you. Something for the whole family to enjoy before finishing back at the main marquee and dancing to the evening's finale, the amazing Paco Fernandez joined on stage by friends and musicians.
One of the stars of the Devils parade was the fire eater. The friendly man walked around the square trying to persuade unsuspecting onlookers to witness the flames from close quarters, very close quarters. He would put his arm around anyone who was leaning over the barrier and invite them the blow the fire with him. Hot stuff.
SEE THE EXCITING VIDEO OF THE DEVIL ACTION HERE... (make sure you watch until the end to see the fire-breather!)
ABOUT THE BALEARICS
The Balearics have something to offer for every visitor, throughout the year. From relaxing on the beach, exploring the landscape, to visiting cultural cities; the Balearics provide a welcoming backdrop to your break. Four islands make up the Balearics: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
The co-official languages in the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan (i.e. Mallorquí, Menorquí and Eivissenc, as Catalan is known by its speakers in this territory).
The islands can be further grouped, with Majorca, Menorca, and Cabrera as the Gymnesian Islands, and Ibiza and Formentera as the Pine Islands.
The perfect holiday destination, Palma offers history and culture as well as a huge selection of traditional and contemporary cafes, bars, and restaurants and some great shopping.
Situated in the Western Mediterranean, the island's famous capital is one of the best-preserved cities in Europe with a historical centre reflecting the art and architecture of many cultures. In the streets of Palma`s old town you can still find Roman influences dating back a thousand years, a winding labyrinth with beautiful churches and traditional buildings. Diverse styles merge together in many buildings. During renovation work Gothic archways, foundations of the former Roman wall and evidence of Muslim and Jewish cultures were uncovered.
Grand houses with impressive interiors line the alleyways and can be glimpsed from the many tranquil courtyards around the city. The perfect holiday destination, Palma offers history and culture as well as a huge selection of traditional and contemporary cafes, bars, and restaurants and some great shopping.
Where geography becomes poetry. If the Mediterranean were a book, Menorca would be a beautiful poem read out in a whisper. The second largest of the Balearic archipelago, Menorca is the shy sister of Majorca, captivating its visitors with a mixture of tranquil beauty and surprises. Lovely beaches and stunning countryside merge seamlessly to create the perfect environment for total relaxation. Menorca is an island of contrasts with rocky landscapes and beautiful sandy beaches. Its two main towns could not be more different - the former capital, Ciutadella, is a small picturesque town, one of the most romantic in the whole Mediterranean. Mahon, the dynamic administrative and commercial capital is a natural harbour, with an intriguing and turbulent history. Their own unique charms and strong, unmistakeable characters, make both towns unmissable. Visit Menorca.
The third largest of the Balearics, there is much more to this magical white island than its hippy associations, mega discotheques and reputation as a weekend destination for the Jet Set. Named after the Phoenician god Bes, Ibiza was the first of the Balearic Islands to have an important town. In Ibiza Punic and Roman cultures peacefully lived side by side, and the result is a wealth of archaeological treasures that are unique in the Mediterranean. Ibiza was occupied by the Arabs and over the years, probably due to the lack of stately homes and estates, developed into the islands` most egalitarian society.
The smallest of the Balearics and a more tranquil holiday destination of only 83 square kilometres, 69 kilometres of coastline and 7,600 inhabitants. The name Formentera has become synonymous with relaxing holidays free from stress and traffic jams.
Formentera is the favourite destination for travellers whose motto is "small is beautiful", a place of pilgrimage for those who adore truly heavenly beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Ibiza, and its smaller neighbour, Formentera, are also known as “the islands of the pine trees. An island of hidden treasures and delights, Ibiza has its own distinct character and provides a creative haven and utopia for the many artists, writers and musicians who have chosen to live there.
Most of the island's businesses are family run and visitors can enjoy bike rides, walks, and beaches, which are always no more than a few steps away. Formentera epitomises life`s peaceful pleasures in a Green environment.