Bonfires of San Juan, the Most Magical Night of the Year
San Juan? Another religious festival?
Although it sounds like a religious festival, San Juan’s night has nothing to do with it. In fact, it is a pagan celebration of the Summer Equinox. It takes place on the night from the 23rd to the 24th of June, coinciding with the shortest night of the year.
San Juan’s origins are really old, when people used to organize their live according to the sun. They were convinced that the sun was losing strength. Therefore, they decided to choose this night to light fires which will give back its strength to the sun.
If you are superstitious this is the night when you can make all your whishes and get rid of the bad spirits. Traditionally groups of friends gather in the beach to light a bonfire and have dinner around it.
If you want to live this magical night to the most you should go to the Community of Valencia (Alicante and Valencia). Although these 2 cities celebrate San Juan in very different ways:
San Juan in Valencia
Groups of friends gather together in the beaches of Patacona, Malvarrosa and Arenas to light bonfires. The city council workers will start to give wood around 19 hours at Malvarrosa and Cabanyal beach, so you should be there on time to be able to get your pack of wood! Bring your boozes, some dinner and get ready for a long night out!
In Valencia the tradition says that at 00:00 hours from the 23rd you must jump 7 waves and then swim in the sea. This is supposed to eliminate all kind of bad energies around you. Some people prefer to jump the fire 7 times and they make a wish, others write a wish in a paper and throw it at the fire after. Each one has its own ritual but what everybody agrees on is that San Juan is a night to party in the beach until sunrise!
There are special bus and train services to reach the beach that will go on for the whole night. For the bus, you can take the EMT (red buses) lines 2, 19, 32, 20, 23 and 31 to ‘Paseo Marítimo’. It is also important to bear in mind that it is forbidden to make fire in other beaches such as ‘La Dehesa del Saler’.
San Juan in Alicante
In Alicante, San Juan is the biggest festivity of the year and for one week (from the 19th to the 24th) the streets get completely crowd with people who are enjoying the music, fireworks and fiesta!
The festivities officially start on the 20th when it takes place ‘La Plantà’ in which the wooden and cardboard figures get built. Even though it seems unbelievable, these amazing monuments will go on fire on the 24th night. If you know Fallas in Valencia it is a similar concept.
La Plantà also marks the beginning of a sleepless week full of events. Every day at 2 p.m. it takes place the Mascletà, the explosion of thousands of rockets and firecrackers making a tremendous noise and shaking everything around including the buildings! Another highlight is the Entry of the bands and committees with their ‘beauties’ wearing the traditional costume.
For more information about the festivities and schedules, you can visit Alicante’s webpage.
The festivities end with an outstanding cascade of fireworks called the White Palm that will turn on the fire all the monuments of the city. The Beauties of the Fire, who are the queens of the festivity, will cry looking at the monuments burning; people will go back to their houses to recover from a crazy week. And the next day everybody will wake up and the city will be amazingly clean as nothing had happened. Back to the routine, but you know what they say… what happens in San Juan, stays in San Juan!
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