Festival of Saint Joan is one of the biggest yearly festivals in Barcelona. The celebration of summer starts on 23rd of June and continues through the shortest night of the year until the following day, which is the actual day of feast and a national holiday.
Taking part in the party is free, and June 23rd should be a real option for budget travelers, as well as everyone else as well, who want to experience some fiery Catalan culture and welcome the summer in Barcelona.
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Traditionally there are three things that stand out on the night on Saint Joan: fire, water and herbs. Fire is the most important one, representing purity. On Nit de Foc – Night of Fire as the locals call it – bonfires and fireworks are a common view around the city, making it sure there won’t be darkness in the city at any moment.
The water is believed to have a healing effect on this night and this is why there will be people going for a midnight swim in the ocean. The herbs are also in the mix for the health, with the night boosting the healthy benefits of the herbs when eaten.
The celebration usually starts around the sunset on 23th and ends on the sunrise of 24th, but the wildest party people will stay up even longer. If your accommodation is centrally located and you wish to go sleep early on Nit de Foc, you’d better bring a pair of earplugs with you if you’re a bad sleeper, the night might get noisy!
Where to go?
Catalans often celebrate the night with family and close friends on terraces and balconies in the earlier hours of the night, but often come out on the street and join the bigger festivities after enjoying the evening in a more intimate environment.
The big parties are usually found on the beach and, to gain the full experience, people visiting Barcelona should be heading that way too. It tends to get crowded by evening, so be sure to be there early if you are looking to set up a picnic party with your friends by the Mediterranean Sea on this magical night!
You can join the locals and dance around or even jump over the bonfires, which is said to bring good luck when done three times. Traditional activities also include dancing, drinking cava and eating Coca de Sant Joan.
Local bars and music groups provide the tones during the fiesta. The restaurants near the beach are often decorated according to the festival and provide additional tables for the night. The nightclubs organize their own events as well, providing an alternative to going to the beach. If you’re planning to have dinner in a restaurant, it would be sensible to book a table beforehand on the one of the busiest nights of Barcelona’s festival calendar.