The town of Jijona (or Xixona, in Valenciano) is famous throughout Spain for its ice cream and for its ‘turrón’, the Spanish nougat of many different varieties that is eaten traditionally at Christmas. There are many turrón and ice cream factories and even a turrón museum, but in the weekend of 15 and 16 December, Xixona will offer something more than just nougat! The town sets up a medieval market, offers guided tours through the picturesque old centre, exhibitions and a range of other activities.
For the third year in a row the Calle Mare de Deu de l'Orito, a side street of the road to Tibi, will be converted into a medieval world with gay bunting and flags, stiltwalkers, beggars, monks, dwarfs and other medieval characters, while the town crier will announce the shows of belly dancers, street theatre and juggling. A glass blower, two young Czech blacksmiths and a master carpenter will demonstrate their skills, and for the children there is a miniature animal farm - pigs, ducks and goats - as well as a train of four donkeys offering rides through the market.
Several local groups will also set up stalls in the market. The local folk dancing group will perform four times during the weekend and in the cultural centre there will be an exhibition of works from the painting competition ‘Jijona en Flor’ (Jijona in flower) and another of ceramics where a local potter can actually be seen at work. In the Convent, also next to the market, the turrón museum will mount an exhibition about how turrón and ice cream are made.
The association of turrón manufacturers will offer samples of their products and the Town Hall will organise guided tours through the old town with its narrow, winding streets, picturesque corners and hundreds of steps (not suitable for people with a bad leg).
The medieval market itself is organised by Amata, a craft association that only admits original craft work (no imported goods, nothing bought from the wholesalers) and thus guarantees a good opportunity to buy something different as a Christmas present. There will be more than 50 stalls displaying a goodly variety of hand made goods such as ceramics, silver and enamel jewelry, carved and turned wood, soaps and perfumes, paintings, on-the-spot portraits, dolls and wooden toys and many others. To sustain the visitor there will be a medieval tavern and an Arab tea tent, as well as stalls with sausages, bread and preserved fruit prepared using traditional recipes.
Opening times on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 December are from 11am till 2pm and from 5pm till 9pm or later. Xixona (or Jijona) can be found on the old N-340 main road from Alicante to Alcoy. Once you have reached Xixona, to get to the market follow the green-and-white arrows ‘Mercat Medieval.’
The following weekend Amata will organise a similar market in the Old Town of Calpe. For further information (in English) ring 639 979 678 or visit www.amata.es. The markets are also an excellent place to try out your new digital camera; if you make any good shots, Amata will appreciate it if you send them to .
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