Es Firo in Soller: What to Expect for You and Your Family
Es Firo in Soller is the biggest festival of the year. Tips to enjoy your day and keep safe
If you are visiting Soller in Mallorca you definitely need to know about the carnival 'Es Firo', especially if you have children.
Instead of just being locked in your hotel on this day (Hotels in the Port lock their doors with their clients inside) find out here all about this fiesta, when it is, what to expect and how to get involved and most importantly how to keep you and your children safe and enjoy the day.
The Moors (Los Moros) are attacking! be afraid! This Spanish festival is very good fun but also can be quite scary. You could only find a party like this in Spain.
For more general information on Soller in Mallorca and all the insider hints and tips, written by myself, an English local that has lived there for 11 years see here
Guide to Soller in Mallorca
and for the Port
Port of Soller in Mallorca.
Or Continue to read to find out all the secrets of Es Firo!
Image Es Firo in Soller in Mallorca Captain Joan Angelats
Es Firo, Boats attacking in the Port of Soller
This photo was taken by a friend of mine. If you would like to see more of her work then just contact me :)
Es Firo in Soller in Mallorca, the best fiesta
Es Firo! fiestas and festivals in Soller in Mallorca
The Moors (Los Moros) are attacking
This Spanish Festival is a re-enactment of the 11th of May 1561 when the Moors (Los Moros) attacked Soller by sea.
The Town will start to prepare for this fiesta well in advance.
Several battles take place between the Moors and Christians and the day follows the story from the Port up to the main square.
A little bit of history about Es Firo
On this day two groups of Moros attacked Soller in 22 warships.
The Sollerics, led by Captain Joan Angelats, were ready for one invasion in the Port. Meanwhile, other Moros managed to invade the unprotected town, looting, robbing and rioting and invading and penetrating the church and the bank in the square.
Captain Joan Angelats would die on this day but one group of the Moros were held off between the port and the square.
Gangs of outlaws hiding in the mountains came down to help the town and later received a kings pardon for doing so.
The Sollerics (Cristianos) eventually regained order with the help of two Solleric women, Ses Valentes Dones, 'the brave women' who invited the Moors captain into their house and killed him. The story goes that one was hiding behind the door and when he walked in was hit over the head with the big metal bar that the old-fashioned doors have on them to keep them closed.
The Day covers three main battles, two on the beaches in the Port and one in Llorta (halfway between the Port and the square) and ends up in the square, where a hanging can be seen, the bank is robbed and a victory song is sung.
When is the festival Es Firo?
Fira i Firo
Es Firo takes place on every second Monday in May.
This is the main event what everybody is looking forward to, although some more than others.
The day of this party takes place on Monday 13th May this year.
Fira i Firo celebrations start on the 9th May.
What to do in Soller in May during Es Fira i Firo
The festival starts at around 3 pm in the harbour side of the Port
The residents of Soller will either dress up as either Christians or Moors.
The Moors will meet in the Port at around 3 pm. Some will be ready to invade by boat. You will notice large groups of these painted with black face paint, wielding big swords and weapons, being very loud and drinking. Most will be drinking the traditional Mallorcan liquor Hierbas.
You will hear groups of people (especially young girls) chanting 'Moros, Moros, Moros'.
The girls and Christians, who wear traditional Mallorcan clothing and carry guns will start to arrive in the port and the first battle will take place on the beach near the harbour in the Port. Heaven helps anybody that is on the beach.
Beware of the Moros and Christianos
The first main battle
At least 3000 local people will participate.
This party will now be extremely loud and smoky, with thousands of large shotguns going off, fireworks everywhere, drums, whistles and flutes.
The Mallorcans are very child-friendly but if your child is scared easily by big bangs than this is not the festival for you.
Keep an eye out for firecrackers and fireworks on the floor and people with big shotguns which can hurt your ears
Be expected to get dirty and painted by the moors, this definitely isn't the day to go out in your best clothes.
Most bars and restaurants in the main square and on the Port front will now be closed.
The second and third battle of Soller
After the first battle has taken place and the boats have attacked, the crowds will move around to the beach of Can Repic where the second battle will commence.
Here there will be a little more walking space so it should be more comfortable to watch the festival and battle.
When this is finished the crowds will move on to the square, on the way there the third battle will take place. You do not need to know where you are going as you just follow the crowds.
A note should be made that during the first and second battles the main road to the Port is closed
Some hotels like the Hotel Marina will give out free drinks of either beer or hierbas to anybody that is dressed up.
A few years ago, 2009 Fira i Firo
Things the travel agents won't tell you about Es Firo
The Sollerics take this festival very seriously. Most are sad when it ends and really cannot wait for next years.
How do the Sollerics prepare for the party?
Preparation will begin for most households a month or two beforehand. It is traditional to eat snails around the weekend of the festival so you will find that many bars now offer snails as one of their tapas at this time of year.
Now when I say snails, I don't mean a small portion like the French. No, each household will prepare hundreds of them.
First, they have to be collected. Most big households will be looking at having between 8 and 10 kilos of snails. Snails are quite difficult creatures to collect. I know this from getting my own households 10 kilos. If it's sunny they don't come out, they don't like the wind, too much rain isn't great, no rain and you have no chance.
Ideally, you want your snails to be from the mountain for better taste and walking and bending with a torch at night does get tiring so you find bartering starts taking place in the bars. At the moment they will sell for about 10 euros per kilo between friends.
The Snails will be made into a stew with parts of ham, pigs trotters and potatoes. They are eaten with lots of aiolis.
Images: My attempt at snails by peterb6001
The Festival Flags
You will notice around the town and port that two flags will be hanging up from houses and various places.
One is the Saint Georges Cross, as he is the patron saint of Mallorca and the other is the Turkish flag.
Beards and fights
A few weeks before you can tell which of the locals are going to dress up as moors because you will see a number of people that do not normally have facial hair growing beards.
Although the fights in the battles are very acted out, the locals do say that if you have a grudge against somebody that this is a good time to get it out of your system.
Old foes will meet in battle and sometimes get a little heavy-handed.
Keep your calm, you will get dirty and a hole blown in your straw hat
Please try not to get annoyed when you are painted. It is like thick black shoe polish and doesn't come off very easily at all. You will not make it through the day without getting dirty.
Handprints and smudges will be left on certain parts of your body. Remember there are 3000 to 5000 out of control locals. The police can't really police it very well and if you get angry you may end up in the sea.
See it as fun, they are a very friendly bunch and most will be respectful so if you don't fancy getting dirty you'll be wise to stay indoors.
Sadly there will be some very drunk very young girls
As Es Firo has grown more popular over the years it has become more of an alcohol-fueled party.
It is a long all day party going on until the early hours of the next morning. Very sadly every year there are more young drunk people. It's fair to say that the worst is normally 15 to 16-year-old girls.
The heirbas that most people drink is very strong, there are three types, sweet, medium and dry. This will range between about 24% and 45%. Many people make there own so it is hard to tell. It is a mix of anise, with various herbs from the mountains, sometimes coffee beans and a very few people infuse it with marijuana.
The local police are trying harder every year to cut down on underage drinking in this festival but every year we get the same reports the next day of how many young people needed to go to the hospital for alcohol abuse.
Remember, the locals will offer you drink. You will be out in the sun, it's a long day so carry plenty of water and drink sensibly.
On route from the Port to the square, there are fountains that give of natural spring water from the mountains if you need to top your bottle up.
The festival ends in the square in Soller
If you have been brave enough to make it through the day and ended up in the square where you'll see the Moors scale up the outside of the beautiful old-fashioned bank without safety wires, to climb in through the balcony and throw the money from it.
You will also see fireworks and cannons charging the square and the church being broken in to.
A Christian Solleric will be hanged from a tree and shortly after the news of the King of the moors death is announced and the Sollerics will claim victory.
A speech is given and the official fiesta ends with a song. This is a little like 'Old Lang Syne' (the English New Years Eve song) in the fact that most people only know the words in the chorus.
Beverages are sold from a couple of the bars but from outside. The bars stay closed mainly because they don't want the sticky black boot polish all over the insides of the bar.
Music will play and the party will continue into the early hours of the Morning.
Viva Soller! Viva Es Firo!
Cant de la Balanguera, End of Es Firo song
© 2013 Peter Badham