The Festival of San Juan

A midsummer fiesta of fire and fun

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What is San Juan?

San Juan is an annual festival of fire that takes place around Spain during the Summer Equinox. In Valencia, San Juan is celebrated on beaches around the city. Originally a pagan celebration, the festival was adopted by Catholics and named after St. John the Baptist, whose birthday is associated with cleansing waters, which may explain one of the more quirky rituals of the festival.

What happens during the festival?

Unlike Las Fallas and other traditional festivals, there are no costume parades or religious offerings. Instead, thousands of small bonfires are built on the beach. During the course of the night, merrymakers gather around the fires with food, drink (lots of drink!) and relax. At midnight, many venture into the sea to leap over the the waves and make a wish. Another tradition is to jump the fire – which, given the combination of alcohol and darkness can be somewhat dangerous!

What should I look out for?

San Juan has a somewhat unfair reputation as a night in which anything goes, including crime. However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings, and consider taking a backup phone or small amount of cash instead of your wallet and iPhone. Malvarrosa in particular can be very crowded on the night of San Juan, which makes it a favourite target of pickpockets.

It’s also worth noting that there is a lot of smoke during San Juan, so those with respiratory problems or illnesses may be affected. In general, San Juan is one of the most popular and spectacular festivals in the Valencian province – stay safe and have a great night out!

San Juan

A summer festival of fire, San Juan takes place on beaches around Valencia.

If you have any further questions about the festival, feel free to ask in our Valencia Expats Facebook group.

 

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