Nejapa Fireballs Festival
Every August 31st, the city of Nejapa (meaning river of ashes in Nahuatl) commemorates the volcanic eruption of Cerro El Playón, which took place in November 1858, and that forced its inhabitants to move their city to the current location.
This festival is over 85 years old. The main event is a high-risk tradition where two teams throw fireballs at each other. Visitors are also in danger of being struck by a ball lit on fire.
Activities begin early hours in the morning when bands and fireworks wake up the residents at 3:00 on. Later, parades march around the town.
At dawn, numerous and colorful parade cars run the central streets, the elected queen of the festival waves at the visitosr from one of this highly decorated cars. Musical groups, create a festive ambience.
There are food stands all across town. Snacks include fried plantains seasoned with lime, salt and hot sauce, several types of local sweets, grilled meats, among others.
In the evening residents and tourists gather around the central plaza to enjoy more musical and sometimes live humor events.
At 7:00 pm a traditional carriage carrying local patron (St. Jerome) ends its journey through the streets at the front of the central church, which follows a tradition known as the “discovery” of the religious image and is accompanied by fireworks.
The most anticipated moment begins when young adults, staying at a house designated by the municipality change their clothes, and put up warlike make-up or masks in order to scare rivals and spectators alike. Many of the participants have years performing this activity.
They have prepared in advance over 1,500 balls made of cotton, secured with wire and heavily soaked with kerosene over a 3-month period in sealed containers. This makes the flames of these balls reach up to 5 meters in length when they bounce on any surface or when they are flying in the air.
At around 9:30 p.m. rival teams gather on Nejapa’s main street. Thousands of local and foreign visitors gather around.
Fireballs begin with peaceful exchanges. Even the inexperienced can enter the battlefield, take a glove and take a picture holding a fireball. After the official sign indicated by a local authority, the players start an intense exchange of fireballs that can hit anyone around. Medical attention is always present.
Many tourists are curious to experience the thrill of this extraordinary event. The danger is imminent for those who are close to the battle area and even for those who witness this event at a distance. However, everyone there its an spectator at its own risk.
This warlike event last for two hours, then the party continues with a live music and free tamales at the early hours in the morning.
This tradition is extreme and unique to Nejapa, it is preferred by many Salvadorans who like high adrenaline events.
If traveling from San Salvador drive along Constitution Blvd starting at “La Chulona” or Constitution Monument follow the signs and roundabouts that take you to Nejapa. (Drive takes about 20 minutes)
Municipality of Nejapa:
Phone: (503) 2239-7404
Elevation 1534 feet
N 13 ° 48,825 ‘
In 89 ° 13,827 ‘
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