One of the best times of the year to visit Mallorca is during the month of May. The temperatures start to rise and the lack of tourists means that you can get around without being stuck in traffic jams. More importantly, the month of May is when the little known town of Capdepera in the north east of the island hosts its Medieval ‘Fira’.
This fiesta is a celebration of the town’s history and its castle, and it is considered to be one of the best on the island. For one weekend in May, the town transports itself and all who visit back hundreds of years to the Middle Ages, with music, costumes and festivities from medieval times.
The highlight of this fiesta is the medieval market, which offers a huge variety of goods and services through the town’s tiny alleyways and into the streets and squares. Take your pick from ceramics, candles, clothes, toys, bags and paintings. The stallholders dress in inventive costumes and you can watch them at work as they fashion toys from wood and chairs from rope and string. Even the local ladies join in the party, sitting outside their houses weaving baskets and making lace. These ‘artesanos’ have such a love for their chosen art that they are a joy to watch at work.
One of the best things about the market are the food stalls and bars. You can try out Mallorquin fast food such as sobrasada and pan mallorquin (a spicy pate served on local bread) as well as tapas and local drinks such as hierbas (a green aniseed flavoured liqueur served from bottles filled with local herbs and spices). The kids will love the local sausages and pinchos (local version of a kebab), and the popular drink of ‘leche preparada’ (icy cold milk flavoured with lemon and cinnamon) - a great thirst quencher if the heat is on. The fiesta gives local businesses the chance to go ‘al fresco’ and for the visitors to try cheeses and hams, pastries and breads, sweets and dried fruits that are normally confined to the walls and counters of the bakers, butchers and delicatessens. Somehow, things taste better on a warm summer evening as you look up to see the illuminated walls of the fortress of Capdepera against the Mediterranean sky! Barbeques cook food to order and the wonderful aromas of meat and spices mix delightfully with the sweet smells of sugar, honey and fruits from the pancake stalls and the ice cream carts. Beer is sold in ceramic mugs and mint tea is available in tiny Arabian glasses. For a few “centimes” more, the mugs and glasses are yours to keep once you have finished the drink.
But shopping and eating are not the only entertainments on offer. Impromptu displays of belly dancing and jousting, street artists and singers, jesters and jugglers all add to the carnival atmosphere. There is plenty of music to listen to, from flutes and harps to guitars and drums. Old-fashioned and traditional games are also played, and everyone is welcome to join in the fun. As evening descends, the torches are lit and the town takes on a romantic and magical atmosphere. If you are lucky to be staying in the nearby resorts of Cala Ratjada, you can visit the ‘Fira’ many times over the weekend as there is always something new to see and experience. For the best experience, dress up in your own medieval costumes and join the locals in celebrating their village and its’ history.
Capdepera is based on the north east coast near Arta and Cala Ratjada. Access is straightforward by car – just pick up a map and head towards Arta. The town can get quite crowded during this time, and although there are huge parking areas, there sometimes just isn’t enough room for everyone. An alternative is to park down the road in Cala Ratjada, where you can take the local mini train free of charge back and forth to Capdepera. Local buses operate a good service from most of the local villages and towns. For those staying in the south west of the island, you can take a train from Palma to Manacor and then a bus to Capdepera. It would however, be quite a trek to cover this trip by local transport, so if you are not staying in one of the local resorts, car hire is advisable.