Celebrating its 52nd edition, the festival of Vilafranca de Bonany is back to honour the fruit of the summer—the melon. This year Vilafranca will celebrate its unique festival on the first weekend of September: with the ‘festa’ and the ‘fira’ appearing on Saturday the 2nd and Sunday the 3rd, though many other events will occur before and after the weekend.
The weekend is composed of a series of events surrounding the melon, the main event of the season being a contest to win the best melon. There will be one prize for the size of the fruit and another for the quality (referring to the melon in terms of its taste and appearance).
The dryland of the area is perfect for the production of honeydew melons and thus the locals take it upon themselves to utilise this to the best of their abilities, nurturing their melons to impressive sizes and qualities. Last year, competitor Antonio Mascaró was crowned the winner for his melon of a whopping 23.79 kilos. This year, excitement builds around the town of Vilafranca to see what 2023’s competition will bring to the table.
Alongside this, there will be markets, live music and an assortment of different events such as a traditional lantern festival and a vintage car and motorbike show.
History of the Festival
The festival was first held in 1969, as a means of fundraising for El Club Deportivo Vilafranca, established by the club themselves. Originally, it was held on the second Saturday of September but now as we see it, is celebrated on the first Saturday of the month, the day before the fira. The festivities did however, come to a pause in 1979 and the celebrations came to a halt for 20 years until it was eventually picked back up and restarted. The festival has since managed to stay afloat and prevails today, becoming an important part of the town’s identity.
Currently, the festival marks the end of the harvest and is a way to celebrate local produce from its own agricultural scene. The festivities of the land seem to accurately represent Vilafranca’s origins- as it was founded in 1620 with the intention of finding labourers to work the land.
Although Saturday and Sunday mark the main events, throughout September there are an abundance of activities in relation to the Festa de Meló.
Wednesday the 30th and Thursday the 31st of September included evening activities- such as a cinema screening and entrance to the competition.
2023 Festa i Fira de Meló Event Schedule
How to Get to Vilafranca
Bus: From the Intermodal station in Palma you can catch the island’s TIB Bus 401 to the town, taking roughly around 40 minutes to arrive.
Driving: Alternatively, if you have a car, it will take around 30 minutes from Palma, where you can take the Ma-15 to arrive at Vilafranca.
Other Things to See and Do in Vilafranca de Bonany
Vilafranca, away from the hustle and bustle of Mallorca’s thriving tourist scene, is not known for its abundance of guests. The quaint town provides a more intimate experience of the traditional Mallorquin lifestyle. So, if you would like to get an idea for the local culture and cuisine, then Vilafranca is a great place to go.
See the sights
Some sightseeing activities of Vilafranca include the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara. The Church of Santa Bárbara was built in the 18th century, it has had a few renovations over the centuries and its current bell tower is a noticeable piece of the building.
Shop local produce
As the melon centre of the island, it would be a shame to miss out on buying one of Mallorca’s delicious fruits- head to Alls i Melon along Carretera de Palma: a traditional outlet to buy locally produced melons, garlic, peppers and dry fruits. There is also a market every Wednesday between 8:00am to 2:00pm in Plaza Mayor, serving as another opportunity to indulge in the local produce, flowers, clothes and footwear.
Tour the Els Calderers museum
Nearby to the town is Els Calderers, a manor house between Vilafranca and Sant Joan. It used to be the centre of a great wine estate. Now, the 18th century house is a museum of Mallorcan furniture and general traditions. Inside you can visit the wine cellar, bakery, granary and chapel and have a walk around at your own pace to explore the house.
Enjoy world-class cycling
Cycling around the area is also very popular and the country roads surrounding the area are perfect to have a ride around. Some of the popular cycle routes lead to the Sancutaries of Bonany as well as the coastal area of Portocolom, where you can see the natural caves of the island (Cuevas del Drach).
The small city of Manacor is also nearby, which has more variety for shops as well as its own churches and a weekly market on monday mornings. So, if you fancy heading to the Nostra Senyora dels Dolors Church, the Ses Puntes Tower or possibly Manacor’s History Museum, then it is nearby. You can arrive at Manacor from Vilafranca by bus or by car.