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A horseman rides through a bonfire during the traditional religious festival of "Las Luminarias" in honour of San Antonio Abad (Saint Anthony), patron saint of animals.

Horses burst through the soaring flames of night-time bonfires in a dramatic annual festival in a small Spanish town.

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Luminarias festival in San Bartolomé de Pinares, a town north-west of Madrid, after it was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bonfires are called "luminarias," and the Las Luminarias festival is believed to be centuries-old.

Some say it is related to ancient Catholic traditions of fighting disease through cleaning by smoke.

It takes place every January 16 on the eve of the annual remembrance of St. Anthony the Abbot, the patron saint of animals.

Ana Gómez, Mayor of San Bartolomé, said the festival celebrates animals and it is something that local residents love "with intensity".

Animal rights groups have complained about the practice, but locals say the horses do not suffer.