The Festival of Sant Joan is the celebration of summer solstice in Catalonia. Indeed, it takes place during the shortest night of the year, for 2018, it will be the 23rd of June. This feast is one of the main event in Barcelona, and you don’t want to miss it! Stay in our central family hotel in Barcelona to enjoy it at its fullest.
The Revetla de Sant Joan (Catalan name for this festival) is a bank holiday in Barcelona (24th of June this year). It is celebrated all over Spain, but it is so important in Catalan’s culture that it is a bank holiday. This festival has pagan origins, celebrating the sun, symbol of fertility and wealth.
There are three main “ingredients” for the festival: fire, water and herbs. The fire is for purity and also, to give strength to the sun. The other belief is that the fire is to estrange the devil, supposedly more present on that day, the farthest from Christmas day. The water symbolized the healing and that explains why some people have a night bath in the sea. Finally, the herbs, also symbol of healing. The traditions wants that Sant Joan Bautista blessed herbs that you can put in a red bag, upside-down on your ceiling and you won’t have any headaches for the whole year.
As tourists, you may not enjoy all these traditions, but, the fireworks, dances and shows across the city are the main aspect of this festival.
What to do and where to go
To start the celebration, go to Plaça Sant Jaume to see the Canigó’s Flame. It is received by the municipal representatives with the Giants and the City’s Eagle. There, the representatives are going to give to each area of Barcelona a flame to light the different bonfires. The Llama del Canigó (Canigó’s Flame) will then be received by the different neighborhood, with the reading of a manifesto in charge of the Devil, followed by a parade, dancing and fireworks.
Sant Joan festival is usually celebrated with family, close friends or neighbours (or all together). The emblematic dish is the coca of Sant Joan, a bread style cake usually sweet, with confit fruit and nuts and/or cream. A salty version exists as well, with bacon in it.
Tips: if you want to go to a restaurant for dinner, make sure to book in advance, the they are pretty full.
The place to be during this event is definitely the beach! Even if the festivities are all over the city, from this spot, you can see the fireworks and enjoy the most. Furthermore, as informations about the neighbourhood activities are hard to find, keep your eyes open when you walk around, to uncovered some activities.
Tips: the beach gets over-crowded quickly, so make sure to be there before sunset to have a spot. Why not prepare a nice picnic to enjoy before the fireworks?
As the fire is one of the main element of this event, ephemeral firecrackers shop open all over the city, making children (with small ones) and teenagers happy as clamps!
Tips: watch out your children if you buy some for them.
For transportation, the subway operates all night, even if it is crowded and be patient if you order a taxi.
Tip: enjoy our hotel location and walk easily from the beach to our familial hotel in the heart of Barcelona!
To conclude, this festival is a must of Catalan culture. However, as it is very popular, watch out the crowd. First, for the pickpockets, so don’t take valuables objects with you, secondly, the use of firecrackers and finally, intoxicated people along the streets to have a safe festival. Enjoy your stay in Barcelona and the Feast of Sant Joan!