Not only do I sense it, I also smell it, as all the restaurants, bars, shops and hotels across the island start hauling out the ladders and paint cans for the annual lick of fresh (usually white) paint before re-opening their doors to the eager hordes of islanders who are ready to return to socialising after a few months spent bundled up by the fire. It’s funny – while just two weeks ago I was wishing for snow in Ibiza, now I find myself wishing for that first real burst of spring sunshine – if you live here on the island, you’ll know exactly the one I mean. The one where you have to nip to the bathroom at a beach restaurant to remove your leggings or vest because it’s just officially too damn hot to sit at the table fully-clothed. The one that gives your face a little dusting of pre-season bronzing after just a couple of hours spent walking in nature or sitting on the beach. The one that makes you toss a pair of flip-flops in the back of your car. The one that makes you finally pack away all your woolly scarves. The one that inspires you to invest in a new summer wardrobe IMMEDIATELY although you know the nights and mornings are still a little chilly. The one that makes you panic that all the pasta you ate in the winter hasn’t done your bikini body any favours. You know – that one.
While that glorious burst of warm sun is yet to arrive (it peeks out of the clouds every now and then), the feeling of spring in Ibiza has definitely come early – probably due to the fact Easter falls on April 1 this year, which means most businesses are in a hurry to ensure they’re open in time the holiday weekend. Or week, as it is here in Spain. Semana Santa is one of my favourite times in Ibiza (you can read why in a previous blog) and I’ve been getting chills of excitement each time I hear the traditional brass band up in the Dalt Vila cathedral rehearsing their sombre marching music. There are so many events and happenings taking place all over the island this month – from charity events and food festivals to springtime celebrations and of course, all the fun restaurant re-openings – that it seems as though the island dream of extending the Ibiza ‘summer season’ has finally come true. What was once limited to June to September eventually morphed into May to October and then totally snuck up on us to begin in March. So, my question now is… when do we think the 2018 season is going to end? November?
Personally, I love the contrast of the ‘two seasons’ in Ibiza, and so I’m in two minds about how I feel about the extension of the summer part of the year. Realistically, it doesn’t affect me all that much (extra traffic, queues in the supermarket and people in the streets aside!), as I work full-time, all-year round. I see the extension of the season as a great thing for those places looking to increase their business; for those seasonal workers who are looking to make more money; for enthusiastic tourists who want to visit Ibiza when it’s less hot and crowded. It’s also a welcome change for residents who want more of a variety of places to eat and shop! But then I can also see it from another perspective. It means those blissfully quiet months when your friends are free to hang out and spend time with you are cut short, as they have to return to their responsibilities earlier than ever before. It means if you’re a seasonal worker or business owner who loves travelling the globe in the off-season, your holiday time is cut short because you need to be here to capitalise on the booming pre-season business. And as a tourist… well, perhaps you miss out on some essential island experiences because it’s just too early – for example, the clubs haven’t extended their seasons and no matter how lovely that burst of spring sunshine is, the Mediterranean Sea is still pretty darn cold!
As the Ibiza 2018 action starts slowly kicking off from this weekend, I’m going to reserve my judgement until the end of the season… whenever that may be. The trick to surviving a long season (in my humble opinion) is to pace yourself. Start out slow. Don’t burn out trying to be seen at all the openings before Easter or you’ll quickly run out of those classic pre-season conversation starters like ‘So, how was your winter?’ before any nightclub has even started on its fresh coat of paint or even put a billboard up! Remember once a place is open… it’s open for the whole season. You’ve got another seven (or possibly eight) months to space out your visits and do all your schmoozing. And as many business owners will tell you – while the buzz and rush of a busy opening party is lovely (and fun!), it’s those quality personal visits and valuable support during the less-than-busy times that really count for something.