I spent a January in Mallorca and two weeks into the month, the island’s capital was still lit up with Christmas lights. Compared to the UK, Christmas already feels extended in Spain as the festive season ends with the Three Kings Day (Dia de Los Reyes) on 6 January. It’s actually the biggest day of Spain’s Christmas season! But in Palma de Mallorca, the city seemed to be holding on to Christmas that little bit longer. There were no complaints from me. The city looked beautiful all lit up!
Celebrating Sant Sebastia and Sant Antoni
It turns out the city wasn’t holding onto Christmas but simply gearing up for another festival… For two weeks in January (usually starting in mid-January), the island celebrates Sant Sebastia, Mallorca’s patron saint. In Palma, the main squares were already being set up with temporary stages for all the various events planned. You can find out more about the festival along with other celebrations across the country in our post: Spain in January. But that’s not all. On 16 and 17 January, Sant Antoni, the patron saint of animals, is also celebrated in various places across the island.
Like any other Spanish fiesta, food is integral to celebrations for Sant Sebastia and Sant Antoni. And in Mallorca, that means BBQs. Lots of them!
It’s BBQ time and everyone’s invited
My favourite thing about the BBQs put on for Sant Sebastia and Sant Antoni is that they’re big communal events where everybody is welcome! You just need to bring your own food (and drink)! I stayed in Palma’s old town with an airbnb host and she was kind enough to suggest we go and check out the BBQ and bonfire in nearby Plaça de la Quartera. I could smell the sizzling meat as we approached. At around 9pm (remember, the Spanish like to eat late!), the square was fairly full.
There was a real party atmosphere in the square with music being played on speakers and several BBQs on the go. Whilst some people mingled amongst the crowds, others were sat chowing down on picnic blankets. It was just like a big beach party – except, of course, we were in the middle of the city and it was a cold (for Mallorca) January night.
It was clear to me that there were people who’d done this lots of times before. As well as picnic blankets, they had tupperware filled with meats and baskets of wine, bread and salads. I loved it. Before coming to the square, we’d stopped at a nearby supermarket and picked up some traditional sausages, a loaf of typical bread from Mallorca and a few cans of beer and we were good to go.
A community affair
The BBQ was an entirely community affair. It was all very sociable and friendly. And strangers watched out and turned other people’s food around to avoid over-charring. I felt quite smug to be here as there didn’t seem to be any other tourists around. It all felt like a neighbourhood street party with neighbours getting together for a big knees up. A local community group had actually organised the bonfire and BBQ to collect perishable items for donation so there was good work going on behind the scenes too.
Really tasty sausages
The food was delicious. As mentioned already, sausages seemed to be the favoured food to put on the BBQ. And they really know how to do sausages here… The sausages are packed with flavour! We picked out some very typical Spanish sausages including longaniza (probably the closest to one of our typical pork sausages), chorizo and botifarra, which is a blood sausage. They were cooked on the BBQ and served with bread, which had also toasted on the BBQ. It’s amazing how something so simple could be so delicious.
If you’re interested in learning more about Spanish sausages, meatandsausages.com has a good post on them.
Fire and demons
Fire (hence the bonfire and BBQ!) and demons are a key theme to Sant Antoni celebrations. The demons represent devils that tempted Sant Antoni. And at bigger Sant Antoni celebrations, you’ll find people dressed as devils running through the streets with giant sparklers! There were several kids running around the square dressed up as demons at the BBQ I went to. They didn’t look too menacing, however…
Where to find Sant Sebastia and Sant Antoni celebrations in Mallorca
The biggest celebrations take place in Sa Pobla, Manacor, Arta, Pollença, Son Servera and Muro. If you’re spending some of January in Mallorca, it’s worth stopping by at the Tourist Information office to check for details of any festivities planned.
January in Mallorca
The winter in Mallorca might not see temperatures reach the highs you get during the island’s long summer but it never gets very cold. Temperatures generally reach the mid-teens in January. And whilst it’s not perfect beach weather, the winter is a great time to explore a quieter island. It’s a particularly good time to spend in the capital, enjoying the food and culture as well as other historic towns often neglected for the island’s beaches.