21 Mar

Festival of Mare de Deu de Gràcia in Mahon, Menorca

If you’re lucky enough to be in Menorca during early September we can definitely recommend taking time out to visit the Mare de Deu de Gràcia Festival in Mahon.

Here’s our Deborah’s first hand review of last year’s festival –

We parked the car down at the port and meandered along the harbour front before joining the tourist trip on the glass bottom boat around the harbour.  After a leisurely hour on the water, we arrived back and walked along to the famous Xoriguer gin factory; finding it closed, a bit perturbed we then ambled along to the church and that too was closed, as were all the shops.  It was only when we reached the centre of town and found the paved streets covered with sand, that I realised this was the day of one of the island’s biggest festivals.

We joined the throngs of people of all ages in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, which was decorated with flags fluttering in the breeze.  Film cameras were set up from the local buildings, to broadcast the occasion to the rest of the Balearic Islands.  The atmosphere was electric.  Squeezing ourselves in to a well-positioned corner of the Plaza, with no idea of what was actually going on, we soon saw a throng of men, all dressed in traditional uniform, emerge from the church.  They then lined the square making a barrier in front of the crowd.  Following on came four men wearing white gloves carrying the statue of the Lady of Grace. They climbed into a beautiful black open carriage pulled by the famous black Menorcan horses and preceded through the square and then around the streets with the Lady hoisted high above their shoulders, what a magnificent sight.  Riders followed the carriage on their horses, which were ornately decorated. The crowd was applauding and cheering (so was I) as they proceeded by.

Festival of Mare de Deu de Gràcia in Mahon

It is a tradition to touch the horses and riders as they pass by for good luck, which was what everyone was doing (yes me included); these fabulous animals accepted this in good manner (as did the riders).  We followed the carriage, horses and crowd around the shady streets, where further horses could be found standing quietly and what a brilliant chance for a photo shoot, the stable hands couldn’t have been more obliging and helpful in this opportunity.

Though the shops were all shut, the cafes and restaurants were open with makeshift bars in the streets selling the fabulous – but oh so potent – Pomada (Xoriguer gin and fresh lemon) at €1 for a small cup or €2 for grande size (I opted for the small size).

After all this excitement we made our way to the restaurant Tropicana, where they were doing a special menu to celebrate the day, and enjoyed a variety of fabulous tapas.

What a perfect day. We did make the mistake of going home far too early and missed some of the horse displays, the evening celebrations of fireworks and dancing in the square.  Putting all this into words just seems flat, the experience, atmosphere and enjoyment will stay with me and just thinking about it all brings a smile to my face and a happy feeling in my heart. Next time I’ll stay to the very end.

If you fancy experiencing the Mare de Deu de Gràcia festival first hand check out our private villas in Menorca or call one of the team to discuss your requirements in more detail.