Feast of Sant Joan 2018

Country: Spain City: Barcelona
From: 23 Jun 2018 10:00

To: 24 Jun 2018 23:00

The Feast of Sant Joan celebrates the start of the summer. It is the longest day of the year and what is known as the Summer Solstice in England. It is one of the most important feast days for Catalans and is celebrated throughout the city. The idea is that on the night of Sant Joan the sun reaches its highest point, before beginning to drop. The sun is seen as a symbol of fertility and wealth and so it must be given strength. The strength is provided by bonfires and fireworks lit throughout the city for Sant Joan.

There are said to be three symbols of Sant Joan - fire, water and herbs. Fire symbolises purity, and for this reason fires are lit. Water symbolises healing. Therefore, on this night, in some areas people bathe in the sea. Herbs symbolise remedy and some claim that for the night of Sant Joan their healing qualities are enhanced one hundred times over. These are often picked on the night of Sant Joan.

Many of these rituals are obscure and you may not experience them during your visit to Barcelona. However, the one element that you cannot fail to miss is the fire.

Sant Joan is often described by Catalans as the 'Nit del Foc' - meaning the 'Night of Fire'. The main aspect to the celebrations is fireworks. In the days leading up to the celebrations you will see temporary fireworks shops open up throughout the city, with queues down the street. Many groups of families and friends organise their own parties - known as 'Reveltes'. Barcelona is a city made up of balconies and terraces, therefore those with the largest balcony or the best views of the city invite friends and family to watch fireworks, eat and dance the night away.

If you do not have a friend's party to go to, the most common place for people to head to for Sant Joan is the beach. Barceloneta beach begins filling up during the early evening on the start of celebration day, with groups who bring picnics and cava to watch the fireworks displays and listen to the music playing in the chiringuitos (beach bars). Groups of musicians and drummers also gather to provide the sound track to the evening's events.

During the early part of the evening the local restaurants along the beach front put out extra tables, chairs and decorations. The restaurants are popular with the locals, who start the night with a large dinner - lining their stomachs for the long night of drinking and dancing that lies ahead.

Tip As the beach tends to get busy, it is a good idea to head down there before it gets dark to stake your claim on a spot - around 21:00. Bring picnic blankets and warm layers for when the sun goes down. If you are with small children, it is also important to remember that the beach gets increasingly hectic as the night goes on, with firecrackers and fireworks going off all around. You may wish to get to the beach early so that you leave by around 00:00 midnight.

Tip You may find it difficult to find any official information about what is taking place in the local barrios. During the day and early evening, keep your eyes peeled for squares where displays are being set up and prepared for the evening. If you find one that catches your eye, return there for around the time when it starts to get dark and you are sure to see an interesting show.