Arizkun festival, Spain

ArizkunFestival_JohnBeech

On midsummer night, the Basque village of Arizkun is the place to be: that is if you fancy running along the streets and jumping over more than 20 bonfires.

The ritual fire jumping and wider fiesta go back to pagan times, part of a celebration to scare off monsters and evil spirits as well as encourage fertility.

Hundreds of people descend on the village – hardly any are foreign tourists – to enjoy the fire leaping followed by a traditional pageant depicting the conquest of a marauding bear.

Be on your guard however, because part of the proceedings involves the Ioaldunak, a group of fierce-looking men in strange, Honey Monster-like costumes toting huge cowbells, who stomp along the streets in two columns and don’t stop for anyone who gets in the way. Morris dancers they are not!

Written by - Photo by John Beech

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