The Big Family Dilemma
We had a big family dilemma! There were two great parties on the same night. Which should we attend? June 23rd– 25th is the celebration of San Juan (Saint John the Baptist) and the night of the 23rd, at the stroke of midnight the 24th the fun begins.
In Almuñécar, there was a big beach party scheduled on the night of June 23rd. People were talking about it months in advance this was the only night that camping and bonfires are allowed on the beaches. At the stroke of midnight, you are to run into the sea and wash your face with water.
Also in celebration of San Juan, in the small town of Lanjarón, there is a 2 day celebration named Fiesta del Agua y del Jamón (Water and Ham Festival).
Lanjarón is a town tucked away in Las Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada National Park. This area is in the province of Granada in Andalusia, and just 40 minutes away from our house. Lanjarón is known for its mineral water and local ham, both of which you will find in many stores and restaurants around Spain.
This event is kicked off with the entire town, and thousands of visitors, partaking in a Water Fight! At the stroke of midnight the fun begins and the mineral water is splashed around in abundance during the festival.
What were we to do?
We took a family vote and decided the water fight was right up our alley!
We’re Going To A Water Fight!
We have a few friends that have Cortijo’s (country houses) in Lanjarón and they warned us that parking would be difficult no matter what time we arrived. So we decided to leave the house about 8:30 pm. It was a 40 minute drive and as we approached the town, we could see people parking alongside the roads and walking in. There were busloads of people being dropped off for the event and it was going to be crowded. At that time, we decided to go ahead and drive into town to see what it was like. Worst case we could turn around and park on the outskirts, like the others.
As soon as we rolled into town, we could see that people had been celebrating all day. We so lucked out and found parking less than a block away from the main roundabout and the starting point for the water fight. Of course, this is when Anya’s stomach started to act up and we urgently needed to find a restroom. Anya and I left the guys to finish parking while I took Anya on the hunt at 9:30 pm to find a restroom. I don’t know how, but we found one. People in Spain are always so accommodating when it comes to children. We asked to use the restroom at a local cafe and they looked at Anya and waved us in. We took care of business and it was back out to the party.
After the guys finished parking they walked up into town and met up with us. We all walked the beautiful tree-lined main street. The outdoor cafes were buzzing and there was excitement in the air. People of all ages were walking around with either bucket or water gun in hand, waiting for the stroke of midnight. Some people were dressed in costumes, some in goggles or wet suits and others were all dolled-up in their finest. There was one guy wearing an Orange wig and almost a full flamenco dress! We fit in well with the majority in our shorts, t-shirts and water shoes.
The vibe was very comforting to me and reminded me of my peace, love and granola roots in San Francisco. There were parties, kiosks, food stands, and a huge stage with music and dancing. It was food sensory overload for the Wagoner family with kebabs, cotton candy, baked potatoes, and so much more. We showed a bit of constraint and only bought one piña colada. Sorry Kids!
As we were walking along the streets, we ran into our friends and neighbors. After chatting with them a bit, we decided to follow the music and head to the center of town where the stage and dancing was set up. The energy was flowing now! We were all jazzed up and having a blast. Lars was in his element and could not get enough of the dancing.
Water Fight Minus 30 Minutes
Midnight was now only 30 minutes away and we were at the opposite end of town. We decided to head back to the “start” and get ready for the water fight. I have to say we were a bit nervous with all of the people that we would relive our La Tomatina experience. Where we had visions of being smothered with tomatoes and only came out with a few skins on us. (Mainly because we didn’t want to take the kids deep into the crowds).
Along the way back through town, we passed a group of 20 men in yellow shirts all carrying fire hoses. Alan and I were both wondering if this was a costume or if they were really going to put those fire hoses to use. We also noticed a parade of witches and drummers that were coming towards us, chanting and dancing to a contagious beat. They came closer and closer and we could feel the drums in our bodies. There was no holding back, we just had to start dancing, jumping and chanting along with them. It was great fun and the smiles on the kids’ faces were miles wide. At this point I am thinking “Even if we don’t get wet, we have once again accomplished FUN!”.
Water Fight Minus 15 Minutes
We arrived at the main round about, where the festivities were to begin. We had 15 minutes to wait, along with about 15,000 others. Let’s just say there was never a dull moment. In anticipation of the water fight, people began to prefill their buckets and “accidentally” throw water everywhere. The crowds roared and everyone started jumping and chanting “Mucha aqua! Mucha aqua! Ay! Ay!” and repeated over and over. Heck, let’s get out there and join the fun. We are all screaming, singing, chanting, jumping along with our friends, we kept losing them and finding them 🙂
Water Fight Minus 8 Minutes
It is now just 8 minutes before midnight and we noticed one of those guys in the yellow shirt just across the street from us. He was fiddling around with something on the ground…. it was the fire hose! He was hooking it up to a water source. OH YIPPEEE! We are going to get wet.
Alan and Lars walk over to get a closer look, while Anya and I hang out with our friends (their son Luke goes to school with Anya). Luke had his bucket about half full of water and kept trying to get the perfect shot to douse Anya, but spare his parents. This went on for a few minutes, but he didn’t get his shot. I was getting worried that Alan and Lars weren’t back. I was afraid that chaos was going to happen right at midnight and we would all be apart. Of course we have no phones or anything with us, because of the “water”.
Water Fight Minus 3 Minutes
It is now 3 minutes to midnight and I let our friends know, that we were going to find Alan and Lars. While we did manage to find the boys, we weren’t able to find our friends again that night. It was now 1 minute before midnight and a single floating paper lantern was released into the sky. Two guys dressed in some cave man type covers were running the streets with torches of fire. The crowds were chanting and screaming.
Let The Water Fight Begin!
The church bells rang and the fire hoses turned on! There was water everywhere, which was freezing cold. That didn’t stop anyone including us. We kept approaching that fire hose to fill our buckets so we could then douse each other, even though we were soaked to the bone. It was like it was raining, with extra water coming from all directions and sources. We were shot with water guns, hit with water balloons, doused with buckets of water and were trying to dish it out as well.
I have to say this was the most civil yet fun and crazy big crowd we have ever been in. People weren’t pushy, yet weren’t afraid to throw a bucket of water in your face either. It was so much fun!
Water Fight Plus 30 Minutes
The water fight goes on exactly for 1 hour. At 1 am the water is turned off and the real party begins. From what we hear, people dance and have a great time until dawn. It was about 12:30 am and the crowd had slowly progressed through town with the jets of water flowing everywhere. Those who lived along the main streets were perched up on their roofs or balconies showering us all with their hoses. We were all beginning to get a big cold. It was decision time, do we continue further into town and partake in the party or do we head back to the car now and get warm? We knew we needed to drive towards Barcelona (9 hours) the next morning and weren’t going to be able to party until dawn. We opted to head out just prior to the water fight ending. We wanted to have time to make our way back to the car before the crowds blocked the roads.
We arrived home just after 1:30 am only to find the party was still roaring in Almuñécar. Kids were running and playing along the promenade, bonfires were a-blazing and music and laughter could be heard until about 4 am. We were all tired and were in bed by about 2 am. Oh, how we loved this night! We would love a rinse and repeat next year.
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