There’s not long to go for the next Sant Joan. 23 June is a very special night that everyone enjoys in their own way, whether surrounded by friends, neighbours or family. In addition, in a city like this, you'll have hundreds of events to choose from. Have you already planned yours or are you still thinking about what to do on Sant Joan in Barcelona 2019? Will you be visiting the city and want to know how it is usually celebrated? The team behind the blog of the Pere Tarrés Foundation offers you all the information you need about this very mystical and unique date.
A bit of history
As we all know, the night of Sant Joan coincides with the summer solstice which, in theory, is the shortest night of the year, although there is some controversy since in many places that time when the sun offers us more hours of light is placed a couple of days before and in other areas, it occurs later.
There is also a debate regarding its origin, since many link the festival with Christianity (24 June is the day of San Juan Bautista), but there is enough evidence to suggest that its origin is pagan and long before the existence of Christianity, even in non-Christian areas, such as China, Iraq and the area covering ancient Persia.
Moreover, many historians point out that the Persians already celebrated the summer solstice and the sun worship on this day long before the birth of Christ, also with fire as the main element. Currently, Sant Joan is celebrated throughout the country, but in very different ways. The bonfires are common everywhere, but each region has its own way of celebrating it, its own customs and rituals.
In Barcelona, in particular, it has always been experienced by remembering its roots, but the party itself, the celebration, has evolved over time. It is known and documented that in the eighteenth-century laws were created to prohibit firecrackers, fireworks and even bonfires in many parts of the city. This makes us assume that it was already a tradition that was deeply rooted at that time and that had existed for a long time before. During the twentieth century, two events took place that marked the evolution of the night of Sant Joan in Barcelona: the vertiginous urbanisation of the city and the arrival, in 1967, of the Canigó Flame, of which we will speak later.
To learn more about the origins and history of this event in our city, we highly recommend the book La Nit de Sant Joan a Barcelona, written in collaboration with several historians, anthropologists and an expert in Catalan folklore.
Sant Joan Barcelona 2019: everything you need to know
Key to understanding what Sant Joan in Barcelona is today is a mixture of festivity and Catalan culture. In addition, the city offers many central and economic accommodation options, as in the case of the Barcelona hostel Pere Tarrés. What will the night of Sant Joan Barcelona bring us in 2019? Here are some of the attractions that you cannot miss out on. Pay attention!
The Canigó Flame
This tradition has its origin in a poem dedicated to the massif of Canigó (Pyrenees) and that Francesc Pujades, a neighbour of a nearby town (Arles de Tec), took as inspiration to light the first flame in Sant Joan in 1955. The residents of the area were also inspired by this and, quickly, the ritual began spreading towards the south, reaching more and more towns and cities. This is how it arrived in Barcelona at the end of the 1960s.
Today, different organisations and groups are responsible for organising their routes so that the flame never goes out and reaches every corner of Catalonia. Symbol of Catalan tradition and of pride for the region’s own culture, its patriotic fires have been lighting Barcelona for more than half a century. The Flame of the Canigó has been key during all this time so that the tradition of the bonfires was not lost in spite of restrictions, administrative obstacles and other issues.
Other activities and celebrations
A night of bonfires and festivals, with many performances by DJs, orchestras and bands in the street and on the beaches, pyrotechnics shows, giants and beasts (kids will love them) and hundreds of fun events throughout the city. Many bars and restaurants set up a bar on the same road, which fills the walk with atmosphere on the beaches, where the biggest celebrations take place. This Sant Joan in Barcelona in 2019 highlights the festivals of areas such as La Barceloneta, Vall D'Hebron or Montbau, which promise a lot of fun.
Oh! And don’t forget to jump over the bonfire if you want to leave behind the evil spirits in the remainder of the year, as well as to make a wish for the future.
Food and drink
If you are a lover of good food, a plan that you will love for the next Sant Joan in Barcelona 2019 is to visit the Palo Market Fest (Sant Joan weekend), where you can enjoy the best Catalan cuisine, as well as artistic exhibitions and other events. Of course, you cannot miss the opportunity to try the Cocas de Sant Joan in their different varieties: from the traditional cream and candied fruit, to other varieties such as pine nuts and cracklings. Accompany the tasting with some good cava!
Keen to enjoy the next Sant Joan 2019 in Barcelona? A small tip: if you go to a beach with family and children, it may be worth getting there before the sun goes down, as the beaches tend to fill up very quickly. We recommend getting there before 9.00pm to find a good spot to enjoy most of the night.