Do you like huge beach parties? Do you like fire? Do you like sweets? If your answer to these questions is an emphatic “yes!” then the Festival of Sant Joan is not to be missed and here we tell you all about it.

The Festival of Sant Joan in Barcelona, or Saint John, officially June 24, is celebrated in many countries on the eve prior, or June 23, and Spain is no exception. Although celebrated throughout all of Spain, Catalonia is especially proud of its traditional take on this day – not to mention any excuse at practicing pyrotechnics! Of all the symbolism present during this holiday, the most important are that of fire – in fact, it’s given the nickname “La Nit del Foc” in the local Catalan language, or “Night of Fire.”

Bonfires on the beach, traditional Catalan sweets called coques (pronounced “cocas” – sweet dough with candied fruit, pine nuts and powdered sugar – recipe here!) and general revelling are the rule of the day on this feast which commemorates the birth of Saint John the Baptist.

An old pagan holiday absorbed into Christianity, the Festival of Sant Joan in Barcelona also commemorates the longest day of the year – that is, the shortest evening. And although the night of June 23 may be the year’s shortest, it seems like it never gets completely dark – besides the beach bonfires is another rowdy Catalan tradition – “correfocs“- or literally “running fires“. These high speeds, portable firecrackers whip and reel round and round, producing sharp sounds, bursting cracks and of course, shooting flames of fire! And if that isn’t enough, the local tradition in Barcelona is to run around and underneath those throwing the fire!

Many locals will celebrate by getting together on friends’ terraces to watch the fireworks. Others may gather round the crowded plazas throughout the old city. For those visiting Barcelona or those residents without terraces, the beach is your best bet. So, a word to the wise, for those with children, go to the beaches early to claim your spot, to enjoy the bonfires, and to make an early exit before the serious correfocs start up!

Worried you may stay up too late enjoying all the fun and festivities? Don’t worry – June 24 in Barcelona is a national holiday! You can check out all of the programmed festivities on the Barcelona City Hall website here. Enjoy!