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La Patrona - The Moors and Christians Festival

A week long, annual festival in Pollensa

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| Trine Bregstein, Mallorca Reporter | Published

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La Patrona - The Moors and Christians Festival

Every year in Pollensa the town hosts a week of festivities (La Patrona), from the 26th of July and culminating with an epic battle on the 2nd of August. All throughout the week there are concerts, exhibitions, displays, parades and late night parties and the whole festival is accentuated with canon fire, shotguns, bell ringing, trumpets, drums and fireworks.

The town’s main square is decorated with streamers and a stage is erected. The square hosts lots of stalls selling everything from candy floss to churros to toys for the little ones. Throughout the week the townsfolk gather here to listen to live music, see traditional dances, watch the procession and dance the night away to DJs on the night of the Marxa Fresca, also known as the white party.

The 2nd of August, the day of Pollensa’s patron saint, marks the culmination of the week’s festivities with a re-creation of the battle between the Christians and Moors that took place on May 30th 1550 when the moor Dragut led his pirates to Pollensa to conquer the town and island. The day’s festivities start early with the Alborada performed at 5am by the town band, which then makes its way through town playing at various locations. Luckily for me it was right outside my window at 6am this year. So this marks the start of what can only be described as a day of celebration with a pinch of Mallorcan madness! 

Wherever you go in town at this time, you will see and experience the festival mood, everybody is in great spirits and practically the whole town takes part. Most of the Pollensins, young and old will be in the traditional attire for the day, white dresses and long white shirts, that are reminiscent of old night shirts, as the town was caught unaware and most of them asleep, before local hero Joan Mas spotted the advances of the Moors and awoke the townsfolk.

At 11am mass is held in the parish church and this is followed with the dance of the Cossiers. The next highlight takes place at Plaça Almoina when the chap elected to play Joan Mas, re-enacts the battle commencement by meeting with the lead Moor, Dragut, and Joan Mas calls upon the patron Saint, the Virgin Mary, to give them strength and help them defeat the invaders. All the little streets leading here are packed with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the action, so close are you packed in that if someone moves, everyone moves. This is exhilarating and perhaps a tad frightening, when the battle cry is given the men charge through the narrow streets and the crowd pulsates to and fro, you better not lose a flip flop because chances are you won’t see it again!

From here the action moves all through the town, you walk all together through the canon fire, the shotguns firing and the brightly dressed Moors with painted faces. If a Moor likes the look of a young lady then she better watch out, a kiss on the cheek and you’ll be marked with thick face paint for the rest of the day. Once at the top of town, on the football field, the Christians prepare for the big fight and when you least expect it, hordes of Moors run in with their scimitars aloft, the Christians shoot their shotguns and fire their canons and the crowds move from one side of the field to the other, the battle is in full swing and you best keep to the edge lest you get dragged into the action! The result is always the same, the Christians are victorious and the Moors retreat.

The Moorish flag is paraded through town by Joan Mas back to the main square, where thanks are given to ‘La Patrona’ and the town hymn is sung. To round the evening off, after a few drinks around the square, a magnificent fireworks display lights up the sky and for some it’s bed time, for others it’s time to party late into the night.