San Joan is celebrated on 23rd June every year not only on the Mediterranean coast of Spain but also in Portugal. It begins with bonfires on the beach, lasting through the night of the 23rd. It is one of the most popular, lively and vibrant festivals in Barcelona, with spectacular fireworks displays and with people often setting fireworks off in the squares, streets and parks. The night sees that the city´s bars are flooded by tourists and party goers and the beaches are jam packed full with people celebrating around their bonfires, sharing delicious sweet and savory pastries called ‘coques’.
The festival, which dates back to pre-Christian times and marks the arrival of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is popularly known as the Nit del Foc, or “night of fire". According to historians, the strong tradition of pyrotechnics in Catalan culture comes from the Arabs, and was revived in the 12th and 13th century.
The festival is rich in symbols ranging from fire, whose purifying flames frighten off and force back the imaginary beings that abound during the hours of darkness, through to “coca", a type of bread base, which can be sweet or savory, topped with pine nuts or bits of pork crackling. Water is also a strong theme of the festival, people gather at the Barceloneta beach on the night of 23rd and rush into the sea at midnight as water is said to have curative powers on this night and the story goes that by washing your feet in the sea on this night, you effectively cleanse your sins. There is also the tradition of jumping over the bonfire to burn away your sins (due to the symbolic nature of fire at the festival) but luckily this isn't obligatory!
For somewhere comfortable and central to stay during your stay in Barcelona, you'll find some of the best Barcelona apartments and Barcelona hotels can be found in the central prestigious district of Gràcia where you will be 5 minutes away from Placa Cataluyna and Las Ramblas. Being near to the beach at Barceloneta or Villa Olympica is important to fully take advantage of this magical festival and luckily there is lots of Barcelona accommodation in this area.
The festival of Hogueras de San Joan has lots to offer for all ages, so prepare to have your socks blown off at this amazing festival!
Leah Penn is a writer and expert on Barcelona life, from museums, gastronomy and festivals to accommodation Barcelona For more information about Barcelona apartments visit my website http://www.oh-barcelona.com