It's time to get used to this word from about now, it is going to be popping up on posters and billboards all over Valencia - It means Summer and summer has arrived! OK it officially arrives on 23 June with Noche de San Juan, but with temperatures already in the mid-to-high 30's I think you would agree - Summer is Here!
Summer is a wonderful time to be in Valencia - there is so much to do and much of it is free or at little cost. Fiestas abound all over the community and you'll find free concerts and parties popping up unannounced almost every week.
Noche de San Juan? Night of 23-24 June. Collect wood for a bonfire and food to cook on it and head on down to your nearest beach and, along with what seems the entire population of Valencia (or wherever you are on the Mediterranean) sit eating and drinking with friends around the fires until midnight when the tradition is to jump nine waves and make a wish. When you return from the sea you write down the bad things from the past year and your wishes for the new and throw the paper in the fire. There is also the tradition of jumping the fires too. It is a lovely night and is apparently in some danger from being banned by EU regulations next year - so get down there this week. (and take a sweater or too, it can get cold). If you fancy going further afield or happen to be in the vicinity Alicante's version of Las Fallas, Hogueras de San Juan, starts on 20 June through to the 24th. Partying in the street, Papier maché Sculptures (to be burned on the final night) and bullfights. Lots of fun for all the family.
Meanwhile, to the north, Peñíscola has its own bit of Summer Magic with a festival of witchcraft and Magic fro the 19th to 23 June- street theatre, street magicians, star gazing and concerts are the order of the day (and, more importantly, the nights). The festival culminates on noche de San Juan with what sounds like a wondeful show of Fire (what else?) on the beach below Papa Luna's Castle.
If you are a lover of a good olive oil then this weekend, 20-21 Jun you should head on up to Viver for the Tenth annual Olive oil festival, not just for the oil but for the foods on offer, and it is a pretty village. it is on the N234 towards Teruel about an hour's drive from Valencia.
All the outdoor pools in the community open this week - if you are a resident of a village, admission is either free or a season ticket can be purchased for the family at ludicrously low prices. If you are just visiting, admission is also cheap. Most (if not all) have a bar/restaurant attached where both the drinks and food are inexpensive and usually very good.
On to culture d'Estiu...
The Palau de les Arts is currently midway through its amazing, comprehensive celebration of Wagner Festival del Mediterranea and there are spectacular free outdoor performances of the show 'Anell de llum', from Barcelona theatre company La Fura dels Baus (responsible for the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics) on 25 and 26 June at 22:30 its a wonderful spectacle of aerial ballet, light and sound. Get there early to secure a good view.
Cinema Jove Starts 20 June for a week all over the city; in the Rialto, the Teatro Principal, IVAM, Instituto Francés, Centro Cultural Bancaja, Ciné Cité at Fuencarral, Colón metro station, and with nightly screenings in the open air in Viveros. It is an interesting and varied program which you can find on their website http://www.cinemajove.com.
Valencia's 'Fiesta d'Estiu' is the Feria de Julio which takes place throughout next month and is celebrated with concerts from internationally famous names under the stars in the Viveros Gardens, A jazz festival in the Palau de la Musica and events and fireworks all over the city. www.feriadejulio.com
The Festival D'Estiu, Sagunt a Escena begins early July. This year's line up is excellent and starts with the world Premiere of Raphael Amarga's new show and includes great classical and modern works of stage and ballet. There are two main venues for the festival, one of which is the beautiful Roman Amphitheatre of Sagunto (take a cushion, the seats are marble!)
Festival Internacional de Benicassim is better known as FIB and is THE rock event of the summer each year in Comunidad Valenciana. This year is no exception with a fantastic lineup of great acts - half of England seems to fly to these shores to visit this small seaside resort just north of Valencia. If you haven't got tickets yet, it's probably too late as they sold out some time ago but it is still worth a visit to the town to take in the atmosphere during the musicfest - if you can't make it you can follow the exploits of Anita Darling and Lolita Devine here and on twitter/thisisfib and photos on thisisfib.tumblr.com.
There will be cinema under the stars in most village squares during the coming months and usually a nightly show on Malvarrosa during July - all in Castellano though - rarely VOS - you'll have to wait for the IVAC's Filmoteca d'Estiu during August in the gardens of the Palau de la Música in the Rio Túria for Version Original films.