During the morning hours (it’s 100% spontaneous; so no one knows when and if it happens)
Usually at the fish market, next to the main square
What is going on?
The challenge is a special kind of race between two candelora crews. This usually takes place on the morning of February 3rd, before the offer of the candles at noon. The order of the procession of the candeloras is established by a rule from the 16th Century, but sometimes some candeloras try to flout the rule and change the order.
The rebelling candelora crew blocks the other candelora’s way and does not let them pass. The challenge starts – the objective is to keep the candelora up for longer than the opponent. Whoever puts it on the floor first loses the challenge.
The challenge can last for hours in which the crews are trying to defeat each other by doing a special kind of “dance” with the candelora. Both crews have their own supporters, who encourage them to win by shouting, chanting and applauding when the crew “dances”.
The challenge can simply end or by the victory or defeat of a crew or by a draw. When both the crews are almost exhausted an intermediary enters into the match and starts to convince both groups to end the challenge and the join the procession. In order not to lose their honour, the groups have to meet each other exactly in the middle of the “arena”, approaching with the same speed. The challenge ends with a kiss between the chief carriers. This final part can last an hour or more. If one of the crew tries to cheat, the other group’s supporters/guards can physically attack those of the other group. In olden times especially, injuries and deaths could occur when the groups’ supporters started to attack.
The mayors carriage leaves the city hall
At 11 am.
From the city hall in Piazza Duomo
The procession to offer the candles to Saint Agatha
Starts at noon
The procession starts in the Stesicoro square and goes to the cathedral.
The fireworks (are the most solemn and the most spectacular of all the festival)
The show usually starts at 9 pm. But if you don’t get there before 7 pm, you might have difficulty reaching the main square and you risk getting stuck on a side street with no view and missing the fireworks
The main square (Piazza Duomo)
Note: Extremely crowded. We recommend skipping this event if crowds cause you anxiety.