The Magical Night of San Juan in Valencia: Tradition, Fire and Fiesta

Summer is here! And there is no better way to welcome it than by celebrating the summer solstice with the Noche de San Juan: the shortest and, without a doubt, the most magical night of the year. 

If you are lucky enough to be in Valencia on 23 June, get ready to experience a night full of fire, fun and traditions.

The fiestas of San Juan, also known as the Bonfires of San Juan, are celebrated throughout the Valencian Community, filling every corner with light and joy. 

From pagan rite to Christian tradition

Although today is a night of celebration, its origin is a pagan rite that worships the sun and fire, burning the old and the bad to welcome the summer solstice. Legends say that the celebration sought to explain the shortest night of the year (21 June), when the sun, in love with the earth, refused to leave it. The Celts lit bonfires to ask the sun not to leave. Over time, this festival became a Christian tradition. According to the Bible, Saint Zacharias, husband of Saint Elizabeth (cousin of the Virgin Mary and mother of Saint John the Baptist), lit a bonfire on the night of 23-24 June to announce the birth of his son.

Ancient tradition
Ancient tradition

What are the rituals that are celebrated?

  • Bonfire jumping: Families and friends gather around these bonfires, and it is common to see people jumping over the flames. According to popular belief, jumping over the bonfire three times cleanses bad energies and ensures good luck for the coming year.
  • Burning the old: This consists of getting rid of something we want to leave behind, like students who burn their notes at the end of the course.
  • Make wishes: Write wishes on a piece of paper and then burn it. It is important to think carefully about the wish, because once it is burnt, there is no going back.
  • Bathing in the sea at midnight: This ritual seeks to purify the body and eliminate negative energy.
  • Washing your face with seawater: This is done for good health and beauty, but do not look in the mirror all night.
  • Jumping waves backwards nine times: In some areas, this ritual attracts good luck, while in others, it is done to attract fertility.
  • Wishing on the Water: Another significant ritual is that of wishing on the water. At midnight, it is traditional to approach the sea and wet one’s feet while making a wish. Some people also throw symbolic objects or papers with their wishes written on them into the waves in the hope that the sea will make them come true. This act is considered a rite of purification and renewal.
Jumping the bonfire
Jumping the bonfire

Preparations for the night of San Juan

In the city of Valencia, preparations for the Noche de San Juan begin weeks beforehand. The city’s beaches, mainly Playa de la Malvarrosa and Playa de Las Arenas, become the main venues for the celebration. Cultural activities, craft workshops and musical events are organised, creating a vibrant and anticipatory atmosphere. On this magical night, the beaches of Malvarrosa and Cabañal become epicentres of fire, magic and fun, marking the start of summer with a spectacular celebration that brings together thousands of people.

Jávea celebrates its “Fogueres de Sant Joan” (Bonfires of St. John) from the 10th to the 24th of June, filling the town with music, colour and joy for 14 event-packed days. The programme of these fiestas is very varied and includes parades, musical performances, concerts, flower offerings and much more, ensuring entertainment and fun for everyone. On the 23rd of June you can enjoy the “Nit dels Focs'” (Night of the Fires), declared a Fiesta of Local Tourist Interest in the Valencian Community, which starts at 23:30. The event begins with the lighting of bonfires in the places where the gates of the ancient walls used to be. The night culminates with a spectacular “correfocs” (street spectacle in which a group of people dressed as devils or not parade through the streets running and jumping surrounded by fireworks) that runs through the streets of the town, following the old layout of the walled town.

Nightfall on Midsummer Night
Nightfall on Night of San Juan

In Calpe, the 23rd of June is full of celebration. The town invites you to celebrate the shortest night of the year on Arenal-Bol beach with a sobaquillo dinner, orchestra music and an impressive fireworks display. 

The 24th of June, Saint John’s Day, is the time of festivities in the Raval neighbourhood in Elche. It is traditional to “plant” (set up) a large bonfire and several smaller ones around the Church of San Juan. The community gathers to enjoy performances, verbenas, processions and religious acts. The night culminates with the “cremà de las hogueras”, (lighting of the bonfires) closing the celebrations with a spectacular touch.

Denia also welcomes the summer with bonfires on the beach. It is another very interesting place to rent a house and enjoy this festivity.

Enjoy music and gastronomy with total peace of mind.

The Noche de San Juan in Valencia would not be complete without music and gastronomy. The bars near the beach offer a variety of typical Valencian dishes, such as paella, fried fish and horchata with fartons, a typical Valencian sweet. Live music and DJs liven up the night, creating a festive atmosphere that lasts until dawn.

Night of San Juan
Night of San Juan

With the large influx of people and the presence of fire, security is a major concern. The local authorities deploy an extensive security apparatus including the police, fire brigade and emergency services. Safety perimeters are set up around the bonfires and awareness campaigns are conducted to prevent accidents.

A major tourist attraction

Every year, Midsummer’s Eve attracts an increasing number of tourists. At Vacalia you will be able to find holiday rentals close to the main beaches to celebrate this special date. Midsummer’s Eve in the Valencian Community is much more than just a party – see you in Valencia!

Secreto - Holiday rentals in Urbanització Platja d'Oliva

Urbanització Platja d'Oliva, Valencia

Secreto

  • Pool
  • 6
From 57€ / night
Gran canet - Holiday rentals in Platja de Canet

Platja de Canet, Valencia

Gran canet

  • Pool
  • Air conditioning
  • Wifi
  • View
  • 4+2
From 115€ / night