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Sant Joan Barcelona 2017 - Festival Saint John E-mail
Written by festivals   

Barcelona Nit de Sant Joan

Nit de Sant Joan festival Barcelona 2017

Sant Joan Barcelona 2017 festival. What to do and what's on in Barcelona for Sant Joan 23rd June 2017. Saint John's Festival is Spain's and Barcelona's midsummer celebration festival, when all of Spain celebrates the shortest night of the year the summer solstice. 


The Sant Joan festival has many names, but in Catalonia and Barcelona it is most often called the "Nit de Sant Joan" which means St John's Night or St. John's Eve. You also often hear it called "La revetlla de Sant Joan" in Catalan or in Spanish "Verbenas de Sant Joan." And even just  "Nit de Foc" -  night of fire which describe Sant Joan perfectly.  All these names refer to the same event - the festival feast of Saint John the Baptist which celebrates the solstice Spanish midsummers eve during the evening and night of 23rd June every year. 

Sant Joan is one of Barcelona's biggest parties and the noisiest and possibly the craziest. It's a night of Fire, Fireworks, Coca cakes and Cava, but not of sleep. You will not get much sleep on the night of 23rd June in Barcelona, so you might as well join the party. Sant Joan is very much a celebration for family and friends and there are usually no major public fireworks displays at Sant Joan in Barcelona, sometimes except a small display from the roof of the town hall on Plaça de Sant Jaume around 7.30pm to welcome the "flame of Canigò" to the city. Read more below. 

Many visitors like to join the other 70,000 people who spend Sant Joan celebrations on one of the Barcelona beaches. For dinner and parties check out the Barcelona beach restaurants and Barcelona beach clubs.
The next  day is the 24th June, is a public holiday and more than 300 cleaners will be up early to clean the beaches so they are ready for bathers. Read about Sant Joan Barcelona events and traditions below and download full PDF 2017 Barcelona Sant Joan programme (in Catalan language). 

Happy Sant Joan! Bona revetlla a tots! 

Metro Sant Joan Barcelona

The Barcelona metro will be open all night on 23rd June for the Sant Joan festival. The Barcelona Bicing city bike system (for residents only) will also be open all night, but some beach drop-off points will be closed. Renfe, the Spanish railways, will have extra connections on regional Rodalies trains to beaches outside Barcelona, where many also go to celebrate Sant Joan festival.

About Sant Joan Barcelona

The Nit de Sant Joan is a very festive, fiery and fun night. There is no central fireworks display or specific programme for the Sant Joan celebrations in Barcelona. Sant Joan events in Barcelona are organised locally by the districts and civic centres of Barcelona and people just celebrate the evening with dinners, parties, firecrackers (not so much fireworks) and bonfires all over Barcelona and Catalunya. The biggest central gathering on the Nit de Sant Joan is on the beaches of Barcelona, which attract crowds of around 75.000 people. The day after the Nit de Sant Joan is a public holiday, so the party goes on until sunrise and all the clubs and bars in the city organise Sant Joan parties. use the links below to find parties and events (revetlles populars) bonfires (fogueres), where you can buy firecrackers at pop-up stands and shops all over Barcelona  (parades de petards) and read about Sant Joan traditions.

Website Barcelona Sant Joan festival

Map firework shops Barcelona Sant Joan
Canigo flame arrival Pl Sant Jaume
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Top 10 things to do in Barcelona

La Nit de Sant Joan

Sant Joan festival in Spain marks the start of the summer. This is is the midsummer solstice celebration, which is the day that has the longest period of daylight in the year (not to be confused with the "equinox" days, which are the days when the day and night are of equal length. The equinoxes occurs twice a year usually in March and September.) The Nit de Sant Joan celebrations in Spain and Barcelona are in the evening on 23rd June. The next day is 24th June, which is Saint John's day and this is a public holiday in Catalonia and Spain.

The Sant Joan festivals and fiestas are from sunset on 23/6 to sunrise on 24/6 on the eve of Saint John's day. The Sant Joan festival is often called "La Nit de Sant Joan" - the night of Saint John. The fiestas are also called "verbenas" or "revetllas," which means open-air fiestas or celebrations. Midsummer is originally a pagan holiday, but in Christianity it is associated with the birth of John the Baptist, who was born 6 months before Christ on 24th June which explains the name Sant Joan, which explains the name Sant Joan.

Midsummer solstice

Midsummer solstice is a tradition from ancient times. The summer solstice was considered the most important event of the solar year in ancient times. Fire was celebrated on this day as the symbol of abundance, purity and fertility and to this day fire and fireworks are one of the central elements in the Festival of Sant Joan with fireworks and bonfires illluminating the skies of Barcelona. Visit the Barcelona city Nit de Sant Joan website
for more details about verbenas firework displays and bonfires all over the city along with information about events in each neighbourhood (barrio) of Barcelona. Don't forget to read the information about fireworks and bonfire safety information.

Book day tour to Montserrat monastery and mountains

Sant Joan traditions: Fire

"La Flama del Canigó" "Qui encén foc per Sant Joan no es crema en tot l'any" means "He who lights the fire for Sant Joan will not burn all year." The most important element of the festival of Sant Joan is fire. The tradition is to light the bonfires a flame called "La Flama del Canigó" - "the flame of Canigò.
This flame is from the peak of a holy mountain named Canigò (2784m) in the French Pyrenees mountains in the former part of North Catalunya.
The tradition of the flame of Canigò started in 1955 as a symbol of Catalan culture inspired by the poem "Canigó" by the famous Catalan poet Verdaguer. Since 1955 the original flame has been kept alive in the kitchen of the museum of Casa Pairal by the Castellet de Perpinyàn in France. (This was Catalan territory until it was lost to France after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.)

The first time the Canigo flame crossed the border was in 1966, when it travelled to the town of Vic. Today the flame lights bonfires all over Catalonia. At dawn on 23rd June every year a fire is lit on the peak of Canigò mountain using the same flame. From the summit the flame crosses the border and is brought to all the Catalan regions of France and Spain to light Sant Joan fires.

In the week before Sant Joan hundreds of volunteers carry the flame from the Pyrenees to city councils, county councils and cultural organizations in more than 350 municipalities in the "Països Catalans" which include the Catalan areas of France. It is estimated that around 3000 bonfires, called "hogueras" in Spanish or "fogueres" in Catalan, are lit on 23rd June using the flame from the peak of Canigó.

La Flama del Canigó arrives in Barcelona on 23rd June at 18:30 in 2014 at Plaça de Sant Jaume in the gothic area of Barcelona after touring the city streets. From here local torch teams light their torches and carry the Canigó flame to light around twenty Sant Joan bonfires in the neighbourhood "barris" of Barcelona. The Flama del Canigó event on Placa de Sant Jaume also features Barcelona's mythical eagle "Àliga de Barcelona" and dancing gegants, the giant's dance. The event usually finishes at 20:00 / 8pm with fireworks from the roof of the Barcelona city hall.

You can participate in the rituals of fire purification on Sant Joan too, but be very careful. The tradition of Sant Joan and fire is that if you burn something in a Sant Joan fire, it will cleanse your sins and rid you of bad luck. Old furniture is often used for the bonfire to symbolise a gesture of  "out with the old - in with the new! Another Sant Joan fire tradition is that to write down your wish on a note, then throw the note into the fire - and finially leap into the air three times. Those are the safe Sant Joan fire traditions. The foolhardy tradition, which is not recommended, is to clasp the hand of your loved one, and leap together over a bonfire no less than seven times. Then according to tradition you will live happily ever after. The reality is more like that you risk falling into the fire and getting badly burnt! Don't try it! Fire jumping is a very bad idea! Drunken firejumpers often get very badly burnt hands and arms when they try to jump over big fires and fall back into the flames.

Safety tips Sant Joan bonfires

Day Tour Costa Brava from Barcelona

Sant Joan traditions: Water

"Bany de Sant Joan, salut per tot l'any" 

This Catalan saying means "Bathe on Sant Joan and you'll be healthy all year round".  Water is an important element of Sant Joan. According to tradition, on the eve of Sant Joan, you can cleanse your sins in water which symbolises the baptisms of Sant John. According to legend, a swim will cure all your ails, aches and pains. Any water will do. You can swim in the sea, or in a lake, or even just bathe your face with the morning dew and you will be free of sin and completely cured of all ills. This is a safer midnight tradition than jumping over bonfires as long as you don't swim to far out. Don't burn your sins - drown them.If you are on Barcelona beach you will certainly not be the only one having a midnight-sin-swim. Around 70,000 people people gather on the beaches of Barcelona - mostly on Bogatell and Mar Bella - for a huge beach party to celebrate the Nit de Sant Joan. Many of them swim their sins away with a dip in the sea at midnight.  The water temperature of the Barcelona is around 22-23 degrees celcius in June, so it's a pleasant experience taking an evening swim. Watching the Sant Joan sunrise is an important part of the Nit de Sant Joan and a fine excuse for partying all night. Sunrise is around 06.15 on 24 June. The beaches in Barcelona will be closed at 06:00 in the morning of 24/6 for cleaning up. They say that this tradition of going to the beaches of Barcelona was started by foreigners living in Barcelona, who had no family to gather with on Sant Joan and therefore started going to the beaches. After all the new beaches in Barcelona that were made for the Olympics in 1992, the tradition grew and now many tourists also head for the beaches on Sant Joan.  

Sant Joan traditions: Herbs

"Les herbes de Sant Joan tenen virtut tot l'any" means "the herbs of Sant Joan retain their virtues all year round." Herbs are a big element of Sant Joan. Herbs are said to have curative powers that become one hundred times stronger on the night of Sant Joan.  Thyme, Rosemary and Verbena (the herb that gave name to the fiestas!) are collected and eaten on Sant Joan. The herb verbena was offered to the Gods in ancient times. It has a very powerful smell and some say it has aphrodisiac properties.

Sant Joan traditions: Fireworks

Fireworks are called "petards" in Catalan - and "petardos" in Spanish. There is a strong tradition of fireworks in Catalonia purportedly stemming back to the days of the arab invasions.  Each barrio in Barcelona has its own small firework display along with local all-night bonfires fuelled by collections of old furniture! In the barrios you will usually find dancing and celebrations in the plazas, street parties, music and entertainment.
Firecracker - "petardos" - shops and huts spring up all over Barcelona and are usually open 10 days before the Night of Sant Joan. So be prepared for many small and big bangs on the days before Sant Joan. If you live in a crowded neighbourhood  you can probably forget about taking a siesta. There is no big central fireworks display and mostly the fireworks are bangers and loud fire-crackers, but if you go the Flame of Canigo ceremony on Plaça de Sant Jaume (described above) there is a small firework display at 8pm on Sant Joan.
Fireworks safety tips

Sant Joan traditions: Coca & Cava

Food and drink is an important part of any Catalan festival. For Sant Joan it is Coca and Cava. La Coca de Sant Joan - coques in the plural - are dessert brioche cakes which are enjoyed at Sant Joan with Cava sparkling wine.The Coca cake is a sweet, soft, light-textured bread made from eggs, butter, flour, milk and yeast and formed into a cake with a topping of candied fruit and a filling of cream, pumpkin, marzipan, cream, or chocolate. The classic Coca is anise-flavoured with candied fruites and pine nuts. If you want to try baking one yourself then check the Coca recipe on the link below and remember the Coca bread size should be twice as long as it is wide. Hardly worth it though. Visit any pasteleria bakery in Barcelona and you will see a massive variety of delicious Sant Joan cocas and at the supermarkets they are stacked up in gigantc piles! Around 900,000 coca cakes are sold in Barcelona for Sant Joan - and a staggering 1.8 million cakes in all of Catalunya which is amazing considering their quite big size. To eat all that coca cake you need millions of bottles of ice cold Cava! It's quite a party! Enjoy! 

Catalan Coca de Sant Joan - St. John's cake recipe in English

Sant Joan parties in Barcelona

Most Barcelona night clubs and bars organise big Sant Joan parties, so check out our Barcelona nightlife guide to
Barcelona nightlife. One of the best places to celebrate Sant Joan is at one of the Barcelona beach clubs. The Barcelona metro and trams are open all night on 23rd June. Barcelona Taxis charge an extra supplement of around 5 euros between midnight and 06.00.

Montserrat and Wine Tour from Barcelona

El día de Sant Joan 24th June

El Día de Sant Joan is Saint John's day - the day after Nit de Sant Joan. The 24/6 is always a public holiday and most shops are closed in Barcelona tourist shops in the city center. Maremagnum shopping mall in Barcelona harbour is open all year round and for food OpenCor shops are open and have shops in central locations. In the centre of Barcelona restaurants, attractions, cinemas and tours will be operating normally.

There is a popular Sant Joan saying in Catalan: "Fred per Nadal i calor per Sant Joan, salut per tot l'any" which translates as "Cold for Christmas, warm for Sant Joan, health for the whole year!"

Bona revetlla a tots!! 

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