Firewood, newspapers, magazines, homework from last term, and most importantly, bad spirits held in objects from the past, are piled up ready to be set on fire. The shortest night of the year is upon us, and the beaches will once again be full of people, either following ancient traditions, or simply to have a good time. On 23 June Spain celebrates the festival of San Juan.
Originally a pagan event, coinciding with the summer solstice, the aim of the rituals was to give the sun more strength, because as of this night in the northern hemisphere it gradually becomes weaker until we reach the winter solstice.
The beaches will become carpets of flames, with lines of bonfires that, as tradition tells us, should be jumped over seven times after midnight, to bring good luck. Water too is essential. If you jump seven waves backwards and make a wish, it will come true. It’s a magical night, full of rituals that are celebrated not just in Spain but in many countries, including Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom and parts of Latin America.
Here we take a look at some of the Spanish beaches where the festival of San Juan is celebrated.
San Juan in Valencia
The beaches around Valencia are covered with fire, with the busiest spots being La Malvarrosa, La Patacona and Las Arenas. From the afternoon it’s normal to see groups of people already out on the sand preparing their bonfire. Tradition holds that you then have your dinner round the flames, seated on the fine sand.
On Patacona beach, San Juan happens to coincide with the local festival (21-23 June) and there will be music in the air. Once again the festival Xufa Rock is taking place, with performances for both children and adults.
On the night of San Juan, public transport runs special services, so that everybody can stay out and enjoy the party. Given that, we’d recommend you stay in the city centre, so that when you finally tire of the festivities, you’ll be guaranteed a good sleep.
The hotel Vincci Lys 4* Valencia is just two minutes from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, on a tranquil pedestrianised street. There are many shops and restaurants right by the hotel, which is both elegant and welcoming. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re coming to Valencia for San Juan 2014.
Before you head out to the beach, why not try a cocktail from the menu at the Mikalet bar, to get you ready for the magical night that awaits.
*Bar Micalet at hotel Vincci Lys 4* Valencia.
Sant Joan in Barcelona
Open-air dancing, firecrackers, night-swimming in the sea, and of course, fire. The festival for Sant Joan (San Juan in Catalan) is just as lively in Barcelona.
Every neighbourhood has its own dance, and bonfire, lit by the famous “flama de Canigó”, a flame lit on the top of the venerated mountain Canigou, which is carried by volunteers across Catalonia setting fire to each of the bonfires. The flame is brought to the Plaza de Sant Jaime at 7pm, accompanied by music and the traditional ‘gigantones’, giant figures, and at 8.30pm there is a firework display at the town hall.
The neighbourhood of Barceloneta will have a huge bonfire, where people go to eat the traditional ‘coca’, a pizza-like dish. Or they may have fruit, pine nuts, cream, pork crackling… there are hundreds of ways to celebrate San Juan, all washed down with good cava or muscatel.
* Bonfires, Sant Joan, Barcelona. / Photo: Flickr, user: Caricola.
The hotel Vincci Gala 4* Barcelona is just 15 minutes by public transport from Barceloneta. The comfort of the hotel is one of its many standout features, along with its welcoming rooms and great, easily accessible, location. It’s just beside Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas, in one of the main commercial and cultural zones.
The charming open-air terrace gives you the chance to relax the following day if you’ve been up all night, and the design, with elements of both the modern and traditional, will make your stay on 23 June unforgettable.
* Terrace at the Vincci Gala 4* Barcelona.
San Juan in Tenerife
On the night of San Juan the Canary Islands are ringed by fire, with thousands of bonfires on the beaches. The ritual is observed here too, and the festivities for the solstice in places like the Costa de Adeje in Tenerife are also unforgettable.
It’s a simple recipe: food and drink, accompanied by water and fire. The fiesta is full of fireworks, dance and music. Just as in other parts of the country people gather around the flames in honour of the Sun and make wishes for the future at the same time as they burn bad memories. If you’re superstitious, why not see if the cleansing waters of the Atlantic will bring you good luck… jump those waves!
* Bonfires for San Juan in Tenerife. / Photo: Flickr, user: ToniFrancisco
Hotel Vincci Selección La Plantación del Sur 5* Lujo Tenerife is in the perfect spot to enjoy this special night, on the Costa de Adeje, 500 meters from the Playa del Duque. And when you’re not out on the beach, you can enjoy the colonial style of the hotel as well as its tropical gardens and Nammu Area Spa.
* Jacuzzi in one of the rooms at the Vincci Selección La Plantación del Sur 5* Lujo Tenerife.
Tenerife is a magical destination, and even more so on the night of San Juan.
San Juan in Marbella, Málaga
Marbella also thrills to the heat of San Juan. And this year our Beach Club ‘Estrella del Mar’ is putting on a show for the shortest night of the year, with a free welcome cocktail and a delicious barbecue buffet.
For 35 euros (drinks not included) you can enjoy the most magical night of the year with Vincci in Marbella. Come and enjoy the cocktail bar, spectacular shows, surprises and gifts, and… bonfire jumping! You can also watch Spain-Australia on our giant screen.
* Fiesta de San Juan at the Beach Club Estrella del Mar in Marbella.
And if you don’t live nearby, why not stay in the Vincci Selección Estrella del Mar 5* Marbella, a five-star hotel by one of the finest beaches on the Costa del Sol, in the renowned ‘Elviria-Las Chapas’ area. The decor is modern, with Arabic touches, all infused by style and elegance.
* Hotel Vincci Selección Estrella del Mar 5* Marbella.
And you can look after body and mind in our Nammu Corner Area Spa where you can have a delightful massage, enjoy the sauna, or try the thermal circuit. After a night of fiesta, it’s vital to recharge your batteries!
Come and experience the magic of San Juan, throw out the bad and let in the good…