The shortest night of the year kicks off the enticing festival of San Juan, an enormous party with bonfires, music, fireworks, coca cakes, and cava that occurs in Spain on June 24th. Summer solstice creates an electric environment in all of Spain.
The festival of San Juan is a public holiday dating back to pre-Christian times. There is a particular stress on the importance of fire, witches, and herbal remedies from the past, which gives the festival an eery undertone. Since then, it has been hijacked by the church to celebrate the birth of San Juan, Saint John the Baptist.
Be on the lookout for fire runs or correfocs, when people dress as devils and carry pitchforks with fireworks attached to them. These devils then set off the fireworks while dancing to the beats of drums.
If you find yourself in Barcelona during the night of San Juan, we recommend heading to the beach, which will attract crowds upwards of 75,000. This beach party is a common destination for everyone in the area and will most definitely rage on until sunrise.
The south of Spain, in Andalucia, people commonly jump over campfires to cleanse the body and soul. On the beaches of Malaga, jumping into the sea at midnight is a legend said to wash away evil spirits. If you are able to make friends with locals before the festival, they are likely to celebrate San Juan with rooftop parties, indulging in typical Spanish tapas and drinks.
The night of San Juan is essential to local Catalonian culture, to embrace the history of the region, and connect with its people. Be prepared to hear explosions all night long, but don’t fret, the revolution is not coming. You won’t be able to sleep the night of June 23rd, so why not join the party?