Just like other cities around the world, Barcelona is a place that has different celebrations throughout the year. Among the most popular is the Bonfires of Sant Joan, a historical celebration that everyone loves (including tourists). So if you’re touring Barcelona City and have a little extra time to enjoy something new, this is the opportunity to do it.
Take a step forward and join one of the best activities in the city of Barcelona during one of its most traditional festivals!
The history behind the Bonfires of Sant Joan Barcelona
If you visit Barcelona without enjoying one of its most historical traditions, it might be a little hard to forgive yourself later. The Bonfires of Sant Joan is one of the most anticipated festivals that both locals and Barcelona tourists enjoy.
Its history starts way back. Some might be familiar with it by another name that’s popular among Christians. It’s often referred to as Midsummer’s Eve, but in Barcelona city, it goes by the name Las Hogueras de Sant Joan or La Noche de San Juan. (Sant Joan in Catalonian and San Juan in Spanish. No mystery there!).
As we mentioned, the festival has its roots in Midsummer’s Eve. Back in the old days, people used to light bonfires to protect themselves from evil spirits that they believed roamed freely throughout the world. Some years after that, people also said that it was an effective way to protect themselves from witches who were meeting with other demonic beings.
The tradition was kept during the following years, and nowadays, the Bonfires of Sant Joan is one of the best activities that tourists in Barcelona cannot miss.
When do the Bonfires of Sant Joan celebration take place?
If you want to tour Barcelona and enjoy the celebration of Sant Joan, it’s important to arrive before June 23rd. That’s when one of the most magical celebrations in Barcelona takes place.
The festival itself starts on the 19th of June, but it continues for a few days. However, the main event occurs on the 23rd of June at night. So if you’re on the prowl for fun activities in Barcelona, you can spend an entire day enjoying the Sant Joan celebration.
If you get an opportunity to enjoy the Bonfires of Sant Joan, you will see many interesting tidbits and symbolisms during the celebration. I’ll explain a few here, which mostly take place in Alicante in Valencian Community:
- Clothing: Fashion and apparel play an important role during the festival and are among its most intriguing elements. The clothing carries significant historical and cultural value. They vary greatly depending among different genders. For example, the Núvia alacantina wears hair bands and carries a fan with her. She’s also adorned in a long skirt and black heels. The Llabradora wears a white apron featuring different colors at the waist, a manteletea, white stocks, and black heels. The Zaragüelles wears a scarf with a cotton white shirt, Zaragüelles trousers, and espardenyes shoes.
- Art: Saying “art” might be a little ambiguous; after all, it’s a word with tons of different meanings. But in the case of the Bonfires of Sant Joan, the art actually comes from the bonfires themselves. Commissioners who participate in the celebration work hard to dazzle and amaze their audience, especially Barcelona’s tourists. Bonfires are made with wood, cardboard, mud, and paintings. Each fire has a unique style that reflects the artist’s personal creativity, so they tend to vary in colors, size, and symbolism.
- Beauty: One of the most emblematic elements of the bonfire’s beauty represents a woman who acts as the festival’s queen. Participants choose two beauties, an adult woman and a child, to have a special representation in the bonfires.
Where can you attend to celebrate Sant Joan?
Normally, people gather at the beach to enjoy fireworks and firecrackers. But to us, that’s a more touristy activity for people who are not originally from Catalonia. The locals typically gather at their homes and have a BBQ or any similar activity involving an outdoor party. They also enjoy “Coca de San Juan” as a dessert! It’s a puff pastry stuffed with sweet caramel cream. Tasty, I must say!
Will you attend the Bonfires of Sant Joan?
We’re just a few days away from one of the most important celebrations in the city! If you are looking for activities in Barcelona or what to do in Barcelona, this is the perfect opportunity for you.
Be part of the Bonfires of Sant Joan and say hello to the midsummer while enjoying a magical experience.
Thanks so much for your time! I hope you are as excited to enjoy Sant Joan as much as I am.
When the time comes I’ll share a few pictures of the festival on Instagram!
See you in my next post!