What is San Juan?

San Juan is a national holiday in the whole country. People celebrate it in all countries from Finland to Brasil. Spanish people celebrate the summer that starts on this day. It is the start of the season in which Spain is vibrant and alive. They make campfires at the beach and jump over it, because this would purify and protect, and keep away evil spirits. In this blog we will tell you everything about San Juan!

There are three symbols of San Juan: fire, water and herbs. Fire symbolises purity, water symbolises healing and herbs symbolises remedy. Some people believe that the night of San Juan heals their qualities and enhanced it one hundred times over. The Catalanes call it ‘Nit del Foc’, what means the Night of Fire.

File:Les Falles d'Isil - Sant Joan 2008.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

Who is San Juan?

On this date, June 24, it would have been the birthdate of preacher John the Baptist. It is estimated that he lived from before Christ till 30/35 after Christ. John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ and it turns out they are relatives. Hence the name John the Baptist.

His message was that God’s judgement on the world was imminent and that, to prepare for this judgement, the people should repent their sins, be baptized and produce appropriate fruits of repentance.

What is going to happen?

At this night the craziest parties take place at the beaches of Barcelona. This night is loud, really loud! Everywhere you look you will see firework and a lot of people partying. You better be there when you are in Barcelona, because we can not give you the assurance that you will sleep well that night. So let’s go party!

The main aspect of the celebration is the firework. The days before San Juan you will see several shops that sell firework and you will hear it already at night. A lot of people will organize their own parties, because of COVID-19 and its restrictions, but in ‘the normal life’ they will also organize those houseparties. Barcelona has a lot of buildings with balconies and terraces. People with a big balcony or terrace will invite friends and family to watch the firework and enjoy the view.

If you want to meet people you should go to the beach Barceloneta. At the beginning of the night the beach will fill with people with cava and food. The beachclubs will play music while you can watch the firework. The bars along the beach often build special bars in front of the building. They sell drinks and snacks for the people who go to the beach. Even on the hottest days of the peak season the beach is not as full as it is on San Juan.

Probably the most parties take place within the Old Town District and the District Barceloneta.

Qué hacer en Barcelona para la verbena de San Juan?

When is San Juan really? June 23 or 24?

People seem to be confused about which date San Juan really is. June 24 is the bank holiday, June 23 people celebrate it during the night. The holiday itself is good to recover from the night before.

What to eat?

The traditional food you need to try during San Juan is ‘Coque’. This is a kind of cake with fruit, nuts and cream, you do like it or you do not like it. This is the only traditional food for this public holiday. A lot of local people go out for dinner. If you want to go out for dinner it is a good idea to book a table to ensure that you will not be disappointed. But keep in mind that this is a bank holiday, so there will be a few restaurants that are closed.

Coca de San Juan - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

The day after…

You will not recognise Barcelona on June 24, the day of San Juan. An almost eerie silence dominates the streets, even in the usually loud district Eixample. Every now and then a few people and cars disrupt the silence. Many bars are closed, stores except for a few supermarkets. You see barely any taxis in the morning of June 24, usually you see them everywhere. Only in the afternoon the city is revived and you can recognise Barcelona.

This party… you will not miss this when you are in Barcelona!