Sant Joan is one of Barcelona’s main festivals, the celebration of Saint John the Baptist. Like many religious festivals, Saint Joan coincides with a more ancient pagan event, the summer solstice in this instance. Not for the faint hearted, Sant Joan is a bells and whistles all night long pyrotechnic party.
The festival is celebrated all across Barcelona and Catalunya. In the city itself each district organises events to mark the occasion – dinners, parties, bonfires and firecrackers. Firecrackers everywhere.. of sometimes deafening force. If you are attending with children take this into account, and mind where you walk!
The focus of Sant Joan celebrations in Barcelona is the beach, where crowds of up to 75000 people have been known to congregate. The party here and throughout the city goes on until sunrise, or longer for those with the stamina for it. Bars and clubs throughout the city will put on special parties for Sant Joan.
Celebrations take place on the 23rd of June each year, though the actual feast day is on the 24th of June.
This is perhaps the most important feast days for Catalans and is a central part of Catalan culture and history. Its origins lie in the idea that on the night of Sant Joan the sun reaches its highest point, before beginning to drop, and the sun was seen as a symbol of fertility and wealth in what was then a largely agricultural society, and so it must be given strength; the latter is provided by bonfires and fireworks lit throughout the city for Sant Joan.
If you are in Barcelona in late June don’t miss the Sant Joan festival!