San juan barceloneta: Festival of Sant Joan in Barcelona 2023
Festival of Sant Joan in Barcelona 2023
|A Character at a Sant Joan Fireworks Display|
In Catalunya a great deal of emphasis is placed on the Summer Solstice — the shortest night of the year. It is a public holiday renowned for the electric atmosphere in the air and the crazy parties that take place. If you are in Barcelona during this period there is no way that you will miss the date — fires in the streets and the constant crack of fireworks will make sure of that!
Start of celebrations date: 23 June
Actual feast date:
This page covers the day in depth — where you should head for the action, the background to the occasion, the opening hours of shops and restaurants during this period and the traditions of the feast.
|The Barceloneta Fireworks Display|
A Background to the Feast of Sant Joan
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.
What Happens on the Feast of Sant Joan
|People sitting upon the beach in Barceloneta|
Sant Joan is often described by Catalans as the ‘Nit del Foc’ — meaning the ‘Night of Fire’. The main aspect of the celebrations are the 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.
|People enjoying dinner on Sant Joan|
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.
Start of celebrations date: 23 June
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.
|Drummers during Sant Joan Festivities|
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.
The bars along the beach front and in the surrounding areas often build special bars at the front of the building, selling drinks and snacks for the party people as they arrive at the beach.
|Santa Marta Beach Bar|
You will also find that the squares in all of the local plazas have displays taking place. These are often not for the faint-hearted, but they are exciting. Locals in costumes put on various displays involving fireworks. The one that I saw this year took place in Plaza de Barceloneta. It involved a man dressed as the devil and many other people in costumes. Groups of men came running into the centre of the square with large fireworks in their hand. They ran around the centre of the crowd with sparks flying all around. It was a really exciting experience — all enhanced by having to put out the sparks that flew into my friend’s hair!
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.
What to Eat
The only official food of Sant Joan is called the ‘Coque’. These are bread style cakes that you will see in bakery windows throughout the city. There are various types available — both sweet and savoury. Some contain crackling, fruit and nuts or cream. The one ingredient that they all share in common is anise — giving all of the Coques a distinctive aniseed flavour.
Aside from these cakes, there are no other traditional foods for this feast day. You will find that many Catalans eat out for dinner on the evening of the start of celebrations day. If you have a restaurant in mind that you would like to eat, it may be best to reserve a table to ensure that you will not be disappointed. As mentioned below, the actual Feast of Sant Joan is a bank holiday. Therefore you may find that many of the restaurants are closed on this date.
Start of celebrations date: 23 June
Actual feast date:
The main festivities for the Feast of Sant Joan take place on Midsummer’s Eve. Rather like Christmas Eve, this is not actually a public holiday, so you will find that all of the bars, shops, restaurants are open as normal on these days.
The main festivities for the Feast of Sant Joan: 23 June
The next day is a public holiday in Barcelona. You will find that most of the bars, shops, restaurants are closed for the day. On this day in Barcelona, there is a definite ‘day after’ feeling in the air. The only people that you are likely to see in the streets are the bin men working diligently to clean up the fireworks packets, beer bottles and streamers that line the pavements. Many people will have danced until the early morning, and so curtains are closed as people sleep off hangovers.
If you wish to experience the magic without being caught up in the craziness of the beach, you may wish to head into the hills and watch the city from above. You could head up to Montjuïc castle with a picnic and watch the firework displays taking place all over the city.
|Fireworks Display in Barceloneta|
The Feast of Sant Joan is one of the most exciting times of the year to be in Barcelona. At the start of summer, there is already a feeling of excitement in the air. This is magnified tenfold on this electric night when the streets are filled with both young and old, making the most of the feast day celebrations. In true Spanish style, the celebrations are embraced wholeheartedly, with displays and parties taking place in every nook and cranny of the city. Do not expect any events, in particular, to be taking place — simply gather up your friends, some food and drink and hit the streets to enjoy the mayhem.
▷ SANT JOAN FESTIVAL BARCELONA
- Festivals and Traditions in Barcelona and Catalonia
- Sant Joan Festival Barcelona 2022 (Verbena or Night of San Juan)
Updated Jun 21 2022
Although the day of San Juan, which in Catalan is known as Diada de Sant Joan, is the 24th June, the most well-known and popular part is the Verbena or Night of San Juan, which is held on the night before, from the 23rd to the 24th June.
History, traditions and activities of Sant Joan in Barcelona
This celebration is deeply rooted both in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia and Spain. Everything seems to indicate that this celebration, although as is expected with some differences and special characteristics between different towns and that is also important in other European countries, is a Christian adaptation of the ancestral tradition of celebrating the summer solstice or, what is, the shortest night of the year.
So, the actual date of the summer solstice, which is usually between the 20th and 22nd of June, is instead celebrated on the night of the 23rd to 24th June, this date is when Saint John the Baptist was born.
What is a “Verbena” exactly?
In Spain, “Verbena” is understood as any type of festival that is held outdoors and during the evening and where music is the main focus of the festival. That is why at the Verbena de San Juan, the other essential element for its celebration is fire, whether in the form of large bonfires, torches, firecrackers or fireworks. Also, and as often happens in any celebration, food also has a key role in the towns and cities of Spain.
San Joan Bonfire: Origen and Symbology
The tradition of lighting a bonfire on the night of San Juan, as much a tradition in Barcelona, Catalonia and the rest of Spain, comes from the pagan ritual that tried to give a little extra energy to the sun, as from this moment it starts to lose its strength, making the days shorter and shorter. On the other hand, the sacred texts say that Zachary ordered to light a bonfire to warn the four winds of the birth of his son John, and from there we have the tradition of celebrating San Joan with bonfires today.
Symbols and rituals
The symbols on the use of fire and specifically on the lighting of bonfires is very popular but could be reduced to the belief that fire has cleansing powers. In order to feel renewed, many people, who even today often do so, burn old furniture and objects as well as different clothing. It is also a tradition to jump over the smaller bonfires where the flames are smaller although it is not exactly entirely safe ;).
Where and how to celebrate the Night of Sant Joan in Barcelona
To understand the importance of the Verbena of San Juan in Barcelona, Catalonia and the rest of Spain on the night of the 23rd June, it is safe to say that it is the second most anticipated night of the year, also being, much more popular and celebrated than the festival of San Juan itself on the 24th June.
There are many, different places to celebrate Sant Joan, from homes, to the streets and squares, as well as bars and clubs and the beaches on the coastal towns.
Popular Festivals of Sant Joan
Many towns in the province of Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia organise their own popular festival, where the neighbours join and dine to celebrate the night of San Juan.
The same happens in Barcelona, in which several popular parties are often organised in the different areas of the city. In these cases, the organisers of the celebrations are often neighbourhood associations. Especially in the towns, it is also common to enjoy a fireworks show.
San Juan Festival on the Beaches
Another traditional and essential place to celebrate in Barcelona, as in the rest of the coastal towns of Spain, are the beaches, especially for young people.
So, before nightfall, the beaches are filled with large or small groups of friends who usually listen to music to liven up the night. They take dinner (sandwiches, bags of crisps, snacks and even in some cases prepared home cooked food as well as soft drinks, beer, wine and cava).
To brighten up and give a colourful touch to the evening, they usually place some torches around them and, of course, shoot some firecrackers and fireworks. It is also common for the most daring to enjoy a night time swim in the sea.
San Juan at Home and on Rooftops
Often, families and groups of friends enjoy a lively dinner and after go up to the roof top or go out onto the balcony to let off some firecrackers or fireworks. If this is not possible, they usually go down onto the street to enjoy the festive atmosphere at the nearest popular celebration.
Restaurants, Bars and Clubs
Another way to enjoy the Verbena of San Juan is dining at a restaurant which usually offer a special menu for this unique night. Then, some of these restaurants offer a show and the option to continue enjoying the verbena in the restaurant. If not, you can continue the party until the early hours in some bars and clubs that organise a themed night.
Book the best parties during the Night of Sant Joan
Fecha: 23 junio
Dirección: Passeig Marítim Barceloneta, 34
€ Precio: 15€ / 30€
Fecha: 23 junio
Dirección: Passeig Marítim Barceloneta, 38.
€ Precio: 10€ / 20€
Date: 23rd June
Address: Passeig Marítim Barceloneta, 34
€ Price: €15 / €30
Date: 23rd June
Address: Passeig Marítim Barceloneta, 38.
€ Price: €10 / €20
Coca de Sant Joan
The star dish in Barcelona and Catalonia during the San Juan celebration is the famous Coca de San Juan in Spanish or the Coca de Sant Joan in Catalan. Originally, it was a kind of cake made with eggs and round-shaped, as a clear reference to the sun.
Today, and surely by luck, the recipes for the Coca de Sant Joan have evolved and include new ingredients (pine nuts, dried fruit, llardons, optional cream filling, etc. ) and its shape is longer, reaching its current traditional form of a length that is usually about twice its width. The coca is eaten during Verbena, the night of the 23rd June, and at lunch on the day of San Juan, the 24th June.
Night of Sant Joan 2022 in Barcelona (and Spain)
The most visually attractive aspects of the Night of San Juan are the fireworks and bonfires. And although it is true that, at least in Barcelona, bonfires were not lit so much during the first decade of the new millennium, fortunately this has been reversed in recent years.
So, in the past, the many bonfires that illuminated almost all the streets and squares of Barcelona with their fire and in an almost improvised way, have increased again, although it is much more controlled and safer, with the necessary permits.
Verbena of Sant Joan 2022 Activities
Opening times of museums and shops on San Juan
24th June, the day of San Juan, is a public holiday in Barcelona and the rest of Spain. So, the opening hours are often similar to those on a Sunday or public holiday, with shops being closed in the vast majority of the areas in Barcelona.
If you want to do some shopping, you can go to the Maremagnum shopping centre, located in Barcelona’s Port Vell, which is open all day. On the day before, 23rd June, it is worth noting that although shops and businesses open normally, it is possible that in some cases they close earlier so that workers can get ready to enjoy the verbena.
Museums and tourist attractions
Almost all museums and tourist attractions are open as usual, whether it is on the 23rd June (the Verbena) or the 24th June itself, San Juan.
Map of the official Sant Joan 2022 Barcelona bonfires
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San Juan Holiday in Barcelona | About Spain from the guide
San Juan holiday in Barcelona! When summer comes, life in Barcelona turns into one endless holiday with a series of beach parties. The most beloved summer holiday in Barcelona is celebrated on the night of June 23-24. Sant Juan is considered one of the most important holidays in Catalonia. Get ready for an unforgettable evening!
- San Juan Festival in Barcelona: origins
- San Juan Festival in Barcelona: Traditions
- Festive Food
San Juan Festival in Barcelona: Origins
San Juan Night is a festival of pagan origin. At this time, fires or bonfires are usually lit. Thus, they celebrate the onset of the summer solstice (in reality it is June 21).
The San Juan Festival celebrates the shortest night of the year. The day the sun reaches its highest point.
The sun is regarded as a symbol of wealth, so it needs to be given strength and power. The power is provided by bonfires and fireworks, which are also lit throughout the city. A truly breathtaking sight! nine0003 The purpose of this ritual was to give more strength to the sun as the days get shorter.
San Juan celebration in Barcelona: traditions
San Juan has three symbolic elements: water, fire and medicinal herbs.
Water is a symbol of healing. In Barcelona people bathe in the sea on this night.
It is believed that if you bathe on the San Juan holiday, you will be healthy all year round.
Another belief says that sins are washed away on this night. If you are in Barcelona, you cannot miss the beach party. About 70,000 people gather on the beaches of Barcelona to enjoy the magnificent holidays. The water temperature in Barcelona is around 22-23 degrees in June. nine0003
Fire symbolizes protection. On the feast of San Juan, bonfires are kindled. This is done so that everything old and bad is burned in the fire. Fireworks are a common element of this holiday. On the night of San Juan in Barcelona, firecrackers and fireworks explode everywhere. It is believed that in this way they scare away evil spirits.
In the afternoon of June 23, according to tradition, all the bonfires of the city are lit. The ritual begins in the engraved city square of Sant Jaume, where the town hall is located. Participation in the ignition of the fire is taken by the municipal authorities. Further, representatives of each district begin to kindle bonfires throughout the city. Then the lighting of bonfires begins in the squares and streets of the surrounding cities. nine0006
Herbs symbolize medicine and healing. There is a belief that on the night of San Juan, herbs acquire incredible healing properties. Herbs that are harvested on this night retain their magical properties throughout the year.
Barceloneta Beach is the perfect place to enjoy one of the most special nights of the year. People celebrate all night. Fireworks, music and dancing in beach bars are an indispensable attribute of the holiday.
The main treat of this holiday is Coca. This is a yeast dough pie sold in bakeries throughout the city. There are two main types: sweet and salty. The filling can be different: fruits and nuts or cream. The ingredient they all have in common is aniseed, which gives the cake its characteristic anise flavor.
Wash down coca with delicious Catalan cava.
This is a unique and incredible experience. Enjoy it!
San Juan Festival: Explosive Summer 9 Festival0001
San Juan , despite its pagan origin, is considered one of the most beloved in Barcelona. Its roots are directly related to the fact that many centuries ago people lit fires on the day of the summer solstice, which stands out for the maximum number of light hours and the shortest night. The sacred element of the holiday is the bonfire, which helps to lengthen the day in such a way that two separate ones become one whole.
San Juan Festival
During the Middle Ages, there was a tradition in San Juan to kindle fires on the highest towers of the fortress walls. Thus, the people learned about the start of the holiday. Fire, according to legend, has mystical properties: it helps to get rid of negativity, gives strength to future achievements. In addition, San Juan was a day when fishermen got rid of old tackle, as well as wood items that were far from optimal due to mold and bugs. Now the feast of San Juan is usually celebrated on the night of June 23-24. nine0006
In Barcelona, as in other cities of the country, a large-scale event is organized, including exhibitions, competitions, sports competitions and more. However, it is for the inhabitants of the capital of Catalonia that San Juan has acquired a truly cult status.
San Juan Festival: what you need to know
The festival is held on June 23-24. Once a luminary has reached its peak, people in Barcelona and throughout Spain are trying to help it stay in its current state for as long as possible. In pagan culture, the sun symbolizes wealth and fertility, therefore, he needs to pay maximum attention and help in a timely manner. On San Juan, bonfires were lit and fireworks were fired for this. Now little has changed — Barcelona for the holiday is still lit up with light. nine0006
San Juan, in addition to the cleansing fire, is famous for its connection with water and herbs. The liquid acts as a symbol of healing, which gave rise to a local tradition of swimming in the sea for a holiday. Herbs are able to relieve ailments, but the inhabitants of Barcelona believe that the miraculous properties increase several times in San Juan. Therefore, do not be surprised at people who went out at night in search of plants. Not all holiday rituals are relevant in Barcelona now. Even if people try to keep the centuries-old traditions on San Juan, they are unlikely to advertise their views. nine0006
How it is customary to celebrate San Juan in Barcelona
Among the Catalans there is an alternative name for the event — Nit del Foc, which means «night of fire». San Juan is inconceivable without fireworks rumbling literally on every corner. On the eve of the holiday, the streets of Barcelona are occupied by sellers of decorative lights, to which queues of those wishing to celebrate San Juan are lining up. For the holiday, people who have real estate with an excellent view of the city invite their loved ones to their place — the enjoyment of beauty is complemented by a meal and dancing. nine0006
People who don’t plan to celebrate San Juan at home go to a place where parties are held for everyone. With this choice, the holiday is guaranteed to be remembered for the pleasant impressions received on the Barceloneta beach. It is filled in the late afternoon of June 23rd. The Feast of San Juan on Barceloneta takes place in an atmosphere of fun: cava, picnics, music are indispensable elements. Separately, it is worth mentioning the creative teams that add a special charm to the holiday.
How to celebrate San Juan in Barcelona
San Juan — a night when restaurants near the sea bring huge sums to their owners. Decorations are used to attract visitors, and additionally installed tables and chairs are necessary in order to accommodate everyone. In Barcelona, it is customary to start the holiday with a dinner that gives strength for the whole night. Ahead is a serious test of endurance — liters of booze and parties until dawn. The holiday of San Juan is loved here with all my heart.
The squares along the beach are becoming a place where you can see really spectacular performances. San Juan is unthinkable without them, but the action will shock those who enjoy it for the first time. As mentioned earlier, the holiday has pagan roots, so the images of creatures inhabiting other worlds are used in organizing performances. nine0006
Dishes served at San Juan in Barcelona
The most important delicacy without which an event cannot be imagined is coque. These are salty and sweet pies that resemble bread. Closer to the holiday, pastries decorate the windows of absolutely all bakeries in Barcelona. For those who want to eat their fill on San Juan, there are variations with nuts, fruits, cracker crumbs and other ingredients to complement the taste of pies. Coque necessarily includes anise, which can be understood by its characteristic aroma. The San Juan holiday does not require a strict menu — Barcelona generally welcomes gastronomic diversity. nine0006
In San Juan, Catalans love to visit restaurants and treat themselves to expensive dishes. In order to join the tradition, guests of Barcelona will have to book a table in advance.
Would you like to book a table in advance for a sumptuous dinner by a Michelin-starred chef? Go to for this link .
The Catalans celebrate the holiday in a big way, so June 24 is considered a non-working day.
San Juan in Barcelona: what’s going on in the city after the holiday
The festival, organized on a hot June night, is no reason for shops, clubs and bars to abandon their usual schedule. June 23 is a working day in Barcelona, despite the preparations for the San Juan holiday.
But the 24th is an official holiday, when the capital of Catalonia comes to its senses after the holiday. Something similar can be observed in the cities of Russia at the end of the New Year’s festivities. The San Juan festival leaves boxes, bottles and fireworks packages on the streets of Barcelona, so on the morning of June 24, scavengers are most often found. The holiday of San Juan takes a lot of energy, so the citizens sleep off, trying to restore energy. nine0006
- How to avoid queues at Barcelona attractions. Tickets for the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell skip the line.
- How not to be deceived by local taxi drivers. Order a taxi in advance with fixed rates online. The most reliable service for ordering a taxi is KiwiTaxi .
Excursions in Barcelona with locals will help you get to know this city for real. The best way to get comfortable in an unfamiliar city is to walk around it with a person who has lived here for many years.
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