It can come as a surprise, November in Mallorca. It is nothing like summer. The skies are blue and it's usually dry, but the air is crisp and it's damp inside. In fact it is often warmer outdoors. It is beautiful though, during the winter on the island, empty, silent and peaceful. I often wonder why so many people choose the stifling heat of July over sunny winter days for their Mallorca holidays, if only they knew how lovely it is at this time of year.
You won't be sunbathing or swimming in the sea, and the coasts tend to close down in the low season, restaurants and cafes boarded up, shops too. But the villages are alive with activity. And the island's other side; the agricultural, traditional and Mediterranean character comes to light. Festivities and fairs fill the plazas with local produce, music and people. Islanders are mostly on holiday at this time of year, resting after the holiday season and those who stay in Mallorca spend their time tending to their villas, working the land and enjoying their families. Take a short stroll into the hills in November and you will spot dozens of mushroom pickers, searching for the wild esclatasangs. Others celebrate the end of the grape harvest or the bottling of olive oil.
Not all is rural however; the beach bars on the coast celebrate the end of the season with big beach parties with DJs and live music.
The winter is a great time to run on the island, especially if you are into trail or fell running, but also for long distance races, marathons, half marathons and triathlons. Whether it is to pump up your training in a better climate or take part in one of the events, the roads are dry and the mountains passes are safe and breathtakingly beautiful in winter.
The Tramuntana trail takes place at the end of November and a shorter (40km) race also along the Serra is held in late January. Conditions can be extreme in the peaks, where you are running at 1000m above sea level with icy winds. In the flats it is often temperate and if only for the views, it is worthwhile.
Olives, grapes, mushroomsa and honey are just some of the local delicacies on display at the village fairs. While artisan products - basket ware, animal pelts, pottery, glassware, leather - play a role too, these are often found in all the specialist fetes.
La Fira in Pollensa - 10-12th of November
This is Pollensa's main winter fiesta and it serves as artisan, animal, cultural and traditional fair all rolled into one. The artisan stands are now concentrated in and around the Cloisters of Santo Domingo, wher the Wine Fair (in April) and the Classical Musical Festival (in July) are also held every year. Animal and livestock is collected around the old football field on the edge of town, wher there are pony rides for children and displays of equestrian flair. Food stands line the square and the streets, selling hot Mallorcan sweet pastries and drinks. Craft beer has become popular in recent years, and there are all kinds of exhibitions and activities. And then there is the fun fair, with dodgems and rides, which is the part the kids like most.
Dijous Bo in Inca - 15th of November
Held on the 4th Thursday after Saint Lluc, Dijous Bo was traditionally the most important livestock fair on the island, with farmers arriving here to sell their wares from all over Mallorca. Nowadays it is still very much a farmer's fair, but has grown in size and incorporated many other cultural elements, with an interesting gastro area and musicians from all over.
Fira de la Mel in Llubí - 18th of November
They say in Llubí that the honey fair has been going for centuries. Whether true or not, what is certain is that honey making has always been an important part of the island's culture and plays a vital role in its cuisine. At the fair you can source local honey from all over Mallorca, but also taste all kinds of delicacies made with or to be eaten with honey.
Fira de l'Arros Pobler in Sa Pobla - 16th to 25th of November
Sa Pobla is better known for its potatoes, but the wetlands of S'Albuferra - a protected Nature Reserve and favourite birding site - are traditionally the island's rice growing region. Rice plays an essential role in Mallorca's cuisine; paella, fish soups, arros brut (dirty rice), etc. and in honour of this all the main restaurants in town offer tasting menus with their best rice dishes.
Fira de l'Oliva in Caimari - 18 to 19th of November
Caimari is a small village deep in the Northern Tramuntana, near Pollensa old town, and it's yearly olive fair is a fun day out for the whole family. You can visit the oil press and see the donkey turning the massive wooden drum, stands are set up all over town, selling all kinds of olive related delicacies, as well as those selling goat and sheep skins, pottery, basket ware etc. There is a festive atmosphere with large groups spilling out of the cafes and restaurants, eating out on the pavements, wine and olive oil tasting, games and music. For those who live here, or have a second home in Mallorca, this is great opportunity to buy large 5l bottles of the newly pressed virgin olive oil. For those on holiday, there are smaller sizes and lots of gifts to collect for home.
Fira de la Vi Novell in Sta. Maria del Camí - 24th of November
The first vintage of the year is displayed, tasted and sold in this small New Wine fair in the tiny village of Santa Maria del Cami, within the Binissalem wine region.