Spain Midsummer Fiestas: How to San Juan in Barcelona

san juan in barcelona fireworks

Barcelona celebrates the shortest night of the year in big style!

The night of June 23 to 24, San Juan is celebrated across Spain in a most festive way: there is music in the streets, firecrackers and fireworks everywhere, and lots of people in the mood to party.

Since the entire city will be full of activities, this time of the year is a particularly fun time to spend a few days in Barcelona, and get to feel its authentic fiesta vibes.

When: The night of June 23 to 24
Where: Streets & Beaches of Barcelona
Price: Free

The event celebrates the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, with so many activities you’ll be hard pressed what to do first. Living the year’s shortest night in the most intense manner

It isn’t exactly an easy feat to keep pace with partying Spaniards.

Fiesta de San Juan in Barcelona

In the afternoon of 23rd June, representatives of each neighborhood take the fire (canigo flame) from Placa Jaume, and light bonfires across the city. 

When the bonfires are lit, the celebrations begin across the entire city’s streets and squares, along with neighborhood dinners, fireworks and dancing.

The Sant Joan festival is also called “La Nit de Sant Joan” – the night of Saint John. Parties fire up across the city and run from sundown to sunrise, most of them lining the beachside.

Go to Barceloneta for bonfires and concerts until the sunrise.

What to Expect 

A very loooong shortest night of the year.

Sant Joan is almost coinciding with the Summer Solstice, marking it the longest day of the year. If you happen to be in Barcelona on this weekend, forget about sleeping and go out and celebrate!

Neighborhood pop-up parties, for young and old alike. Festivities only stop once the sun is up.

Midnight Dipping in the Sea

Taking a dip at midnight was a compulsory ritual a long time ago, symbol of cleansing of sins like Sant Joan did through his baptism. It’s still a very common practice along the coast: after all, what would you expect from an all night party mixed with cava and  music?

Fireworks and Bonfires

Barcelona has a deeply rooted tradition of lighting bonfires and launching fireworks during the night of Sant Joan, when tons of firecrackers are fired up across the city. 

 Be prepared for many small and big bangs!

If you’re out partying (as you should) and you’re feeling particularly brave, make a wish whilst jumping over one of the city’s bonfires.

Bad news for those planning to catch some sleep on this night: if the music won’t keep you awake, the tons of firecrackers and fireworks will! In 2017, there were over 800 shops selling firecrackers and fireworks in Barcelona alone.

Burn what is no longer useful

Sant Joan also means burning old possessions, or writing notes with your wishes for the year and throwing them into the flames.

Fire symbolizes purity and it is said that those who burn items in a Sant Joan fire will be cleansed of past sins. So throw in all that junk you hoarded throughout the year!

Coca de San Juan and Cava

This staple dessert will be found at all bakeries in town. Originally a round shaped cake, the coca is a  sweet flatbread can come filled with marzipan or whipped cream and decorated with pine nuts or candied fruit.

coca de san juan and cava.jpg

You can read more about the coca de San Juan here. 

 Best Spots to San Juan in Barcelona

Three main obvious choices come up if you want to enjoy the San Juan fireworks:

  • Hit the Beach
  • Head for the Hills
  • Best Rooftops

Check out some useful information below and make your own choice.

Beach Parties

While this is the most popular of choices, it’s also the most hotly debated. Locals more advise avoiding the beaches, since they’ll be the most crowded – and with crowds come drunks and brawls.

I would argue that’s the case for all gatherings, and it’s a matter of preference. If you enjoy going to open-air concerts, the crowds here are a bit more mellow than at a music festival, but equally numerous. 

You can start by bringing your own picnic to the beach and extend the longest day of the year with some of the midsummer beach parties popping as night falls.

Or better yet, make your own party:  just bring coca (de San Juan, of course) cava, firecrackers, and blankets. All the ingredients that you need for a perfect San Juan night out.

Perfect night at the beach: Bring coca, cava, firecrackers, and blankets.

You may wish to get to the beach early. Over 60.000 people are expected to be partying on the Barcelona beaches on the night of Sant Joan!

tip Head down to the beach before 20.00, else you’ll have a hard time securing a good spot on the sand.

Party High in Montjuic 

For those of you who want to enjoy the spectacular displays of fireworks in a more quiet fashion, the beach won’t do. You’ll want to head up for the hills instead. 

Montjuïc is a good first option, and a very popular spot for people with kids.

Rooftop Chilling

terrat rooftop bar at mandarin oriental, barcelona
Credits: Mandarin Oriental

If you still to party but looking to escape the crowds, there are a number of hotels in Barcelona with rooftop bars to meet your needs.

As a general rule of thumb, look for hotels overlooking the beach.

Make sure you plan this ahead of time, since must rooftops will have advertised their own Jant Joan events weeks in advance, and reservations are an absolute must.

Here are some rooftop suggestions to San Juan in Barcelona:

  • Sky Bar – Grand Hotel Central
  • Wet Bar – Hotel W (exclusive)
  • Terrat – Mandarin Oriental Hotel (exclusive)
  • Hotel Duquesa de Cardona Barcelona
  • Silken Diagonal
  • 1881 per SAGARDI

tipThe night of June 23 Barcelona’s public transport operates nonstop. Subways are usually always full, so you may need to arm yourself with patience.

Bona revetlla a tots!! 

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