In the night of the 23rd of June it seems like the whole coastline of Spain is lighted up – thousands of bonfires, dancing people and an incredible atmosphere complete the party. While “Hogueras de San Juan” or in English “the Bonfires of Saint John” originates from the Catholic belief, it is so much more nowadays: a remarkable festival combining traditional Christian, Catholic and Pagan rituals and beliefs with a lot of fun!


source: panoramio
The Bonfires of San Juan are celebrated from the 21st to the 24th of June whereby the climax of the festival is reached on the 23rd of June, the day before the Feast Day of Saint John, the Baptist who was born six months before Jesus. The Feast of Saint John coincides with the so-called Midsummer which has its roots in ancient celebrations and the belief of protecting against evil spirits through bonfires. Later on, the thought of witches being on their way to meet up with other creatures supported the festivities. While everywhere around the world the Bonfires of Saint John are celebrated, no city can catch up with the festival of Alicante. Formally constituted by Jose María Py in 1928, Alicante changed the tradition of burning old pieces of furniture to a combination of bonfires with the Valencian tradition known as Las Fallas whereby big wooden sculptures are burnt. The spectacular festival full of fireworks, music, dancing and great food is not only the highlight of the year in Alicante to welcome the summer, but also the official start of local festivals all around Spain.

source: donquijote.org
Ever since 1928, Alicante is celebrating Hogueras de San Juan bigger and bigger: starting the preparations for the festival on the 19th of June, the small city does everything to ensure spectacular bonfires. The festival from the 21st of June to the 24th of June is packed with parties and events throughout the whole city. Starting the day with noise and clamoring at 8 AM, the celebrations continue with loud firecrackers at 2 PM. Bullfights are held around 7 PM and the highlight of the day are the fireworks and bonfires from 11 PM until 6 AM in the morning. The streets are not only filled with well dressed women called beauty or Queen of the Festival, but also vibrate when the popular Street Band Parade on the 21st of June and the International Folklore Parade on the 23rd of June take place. While the official ending of Hogueras de San Juan is the 24th of June, firework competitions, markets and various shows are held from the 25th to 29th of June.


source: Magek Spa
Spanish festivals are known for their customs and traditions, therefore, also the Festival of Bonfires of Saint John has a long list of rituals. While it is common to jump over the bonfire three times, running into the sea at midnight and washing the face with perfumed water to be cleansed and purified for the upcoming year everywhere in Spain, other traditions are only typical in certain regions. For instance, on the Canary Islands it is an ancient ritual to place three potatoes underneath the bed whereby one is peeled, one is unpeeled and one is half peeled. In the early morning, people pull out one potato without looking and hope to catch the un-peeled one as it stands for good health and prosperity. A small town in Castilla became famous for its dangerous fire walk where young men try to cross a path of hot coals without getting burned. While legends say only true locals will not be burned, the miracle behind this walk are the precautions such as no ashes and hard objects on the path as well as extra weight on the shoulders of the men. In other regions, children share their hot chocolate and throw dolls into fire.

Although some activities such as jumping over the fire three times and the fire walk are due to their danger not recommended to every visitor, Hogueras de San Juan is a festival celebrated by everybody and for everybody! No entrance ticket is needed to join the locals on the beach of Alicante dancing around bonfires, singing old songs and taking a bath in the sea by moonlight.


source: Luce Beat
If you got interested in experiencing an indescribable atmosphere, do not hesitate to contact us and ask for our festival programs.