A «botellón» (read it like bottah-john) is a massive street party where most of people go to drink and to find some friends. Life cost in Alicante is quite high in comparison to other towns nearby as Murcia or Albacete and, moreover, we are not used to go into crazy discos where poor music ruin our conversations. Most of people in Alicante enjoy wonderful weather living outdoors. They save a lot of money and make new friends joining a botellón. Pubs and local authorities are against this kind of parties since they lose a lot of money that otherwise would contribute to taxes. A 33 cl beer usualy costs 3 euros in a pub. One liter costs 2 euros in a 24/7. Sometimes whiskies and other expensive drinks are manipulated in pubs. Whatcha gonna do? Join the botellón! Don't let business kill a way of life!
What do you need to join a botellón? You just need to bring something to drink with you (alcoholic or non alcoholic beverages), some ice cubes (sold in gas stations and 24/7 stores), a couple of friends and a little piece of conversation. Is botellón legal? Well no. Tickets for "botellonning" out of controlled areas are close to 150 euros. So, you should be careful where you do your party. There are very few areas in town where police tolerate botellón. Be proper and please don't leave any any garbage behind you.
To reach the «oficial» Botellón spot you must follow Alfonso X el Sabio (the avenue passing by the Mercado Central) in the opposite direction to Plaza de los Luceros. It's located in the skirts of the castle and if you don't know the city too much, just follow anyone carrying drinks in plastic bags. Fridays and saturdays, from 11pm on.
Spanish children are so lucky that they receive their Christmas presents in two different days. The tradition used to be that presents were brought to the children by the three Wise Kings on the night of 5 January. Nowadays, Santa Claus has become popular too, and it is usual to make presents on the Christmas night.
But the emotion of watching the parade of the three kings, leaving a glass of milk for them and a bit of straw for their camels, cannot be replaced, for sure...
The night of Saint John, on the Summer solstice is the major festivity in Alicante. They build large monuments of wood and papier maché, similar to the falles in Valencia and they get burned during that night as an act of purification.
The "queen" of the "fogueres" is called the "Beauty of the Fire" (Bellea del Foc). An extravagant name, but a beauty indeed.
Spaniards love to take long promenades in the evening, when the sun gets lower and the heat is more clement. In Alicante, the place to walk is obviously the Esplanade and the sea front along the port and the beaches.
Although most restaurant staff speak english, this is an ideal way of testing out your spanish skills like I did. I did not realise how much I had actually learnt at college. It was fun and the locals liked it that we were making an effort to speak their language!
Try the local dishes (piealla) I did like the chicken dish and for seafood lovers, you will love it.
The most popular festival in Alicante 'attracts' many tourists in June: the festival starts before (21th...) but the main the is the 24. I'm speaking about 'Les Fogueres' a very interesting 'fiestas'. In these dates the city is plenty of paper-wooden sculptures with satiric themes to a large extent. The night of the 24th june, they all are burnt (it's absolutely safe, because the firemen care about the security, despite some of the 'Fogueres' reaches the 23 meters!). Music, nice people and warm temperatures.
--- Photo: fireworks in the Hogueras 'Fiesta' with crowds of people in the 'Postiguet' beach.
Museo Municipal Casa de la Asegurada (Municipal Museum 'Casa de la Asegurada' ) The building called La Asegurada was constructed in the 1 7th century and has had a multitude of uses and inhabitants throughout its history: municipal granary, prison, artillery storehouse, school of commerce, and was once even a provisional city hall. Today it houses a 20th Century Art Collection donated to the city in 1976 by the artist Eusebio Sempere. The nucleus of the collection is composed of works by major artists belonging to the Spanish generation of the fifties: Alfaro, Canogar, Chillida, Mompó, Saura, Tàpies, Zobel and Viola, and also includes a few predecessors of avant-garde art such as Gris, Miró, Picasso, etc.
Museo Arqueológico Provincial (Provincial Archeological Museum) This is located within the Palace of the Provincial Council and has such a large collection of archeological remains that only a selection of the most significant pieces are actually on display for the public. Of note are the dowries from the Bronze Age, the collection of Iberian and Roman ceramics and the Roman statues and epigraphy. There is also a valuable collection of popular ceramics from the 1 6th to the 1 9th centuries.
Museo de las Hogueras (Museum of the Bonfires) This museum is located inside the Santa Bárbara castle and contains effigies saved from the flames of the popular Las Hogueras festivities of Alicante.
Castillo de Santa Bárbara (Santa Bárbara Castle) This is the most emblematic construction in the city, located on the summit of mount Benacantil at 166m above the nearby sea. Archeological findings seem to indicate that this was a site of an Iberian hill fort. Today the majority of the castle dates from the 16th century. Of note are the Torre del Homenaje (keep), the Baluarte de los Ingleses (the Englishmen's bastion), la Capilla de Santa Bárbara, el Salón de Felipe II and others. The ascent can be made either by car or via a lift going up from the Postiguet beach. Visiting is a must, because the bastions provide a splendid panorama of the city and the coast. From here you will see the island of Tabarca, located off the coast from Cape Aljub near Santa Pola.
Iglesia de Santa Maria (Church of St. Mary) This 16th-century church was built on the site of an ancient Arab mosque. It has a gothic interior, and baroque high altar and doorway.
Concatedral de San Nicolás de Bari (Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas of Bari) Finished in 1662, this church in renaissance style with baroque elements in the altar and communion chapel is considered as one of the best examples of Spain's high baroque. Of special interest is the cloister, adorned with grilles and wooden doors.
Ayuntamiento (City Hall) A fine example of baroque civil architecture finished in 1760. On the first step of the stairway on the first floor is a small metal disc indicating sea level, used as a reference point for measuring height above sea level for all other points in Spain.
Monasterio de la Santa Faz (Monastery of the Holy Face) Located in the village district of the same name eight kilometres north of the City along the Alicante-Valencia route, this church was terminated in 1766 in renaissance style, with a baroque doorway. In a side-chapel of the church there is a reliquary containing one of the folds of linen used by Veronica to wipe Christ's brow during the Calvary. This relic was brought from Rome in the 1 5th century. Abutting onto the building is a fortified tower from the 16th century.
Castillo de San Fernando (Castle of St. Ferdinand) This is located on the Tossal hilltop, and is now completely dismantled, although it is true to say that this fortress was never terminated, as it was begun just before the French invasion. The spacious platform it now offers is used for sports and leisure activities.
Palacio Gravina (Gravina Palace) Constructed in the 18th century, this building now contains the provincial Archives, governed by the provincial Council. Exhibitions and cultural activites are often staged here.
Isla de Tabarca (Island of Tabarca) This island is in fact a natural monument, and is the only inhabited island in the land of Valencia, an erstwhile refuge of pirates and corsairs, now pertaining to the municipality of Alicante. It is eleven nautical miles from Alicante and three from Santa Pola. The waters around the island are now listed as a Marine Reserve. The island has an important set of fortifications (walls, bastion and doorways), an 18th century church and the castle of San José. Tabarca was declared a Historical-Artistic Monument in 1964.
In the Town Hall Square the official hoguera is built every year. This is the first monument that burns on the night of June 24.
The Castilla de Santa Barbara houses a large collection of scultures within its grounds, well worth seeing.
Go visit the local Bodegas... They sure have interesting tastes of wine, with interesting low prices ;)