Tonight will see towns around Catalunya celebrate the arrival of summer with fireworks, bonfires, cava and coca cake. Everyone has their own way of marking the eve of Sant Joan's day (June 24th, which is a holiday in this autonomous community), but it seems that many people in Barcelona will be taking advantage of the cheap option of going to one of the city's beaches (article in Castilian, El Periodico). At least 100,000 people could gather at the waterfront this evening, a number that significantly surpasses the 85,000 who ventured down there last year (although in 2008, many people left the city to enjoy a long weekend). The chiringuitos (beach bars) in Barceloneta will be allowed to open until 5am; however, the council has already determined that it will make sure that people leave the beach area by 6am so that the cleaning-up process can begin. There will also be a notable police presence, with both Guàrdia Urbana and Mossos d'Esquadra agents out in force, as well as an additional 19 percent of firemen on call and 500 spots for alcohol-level testing on drivers.
Coinciding with today's Sant Joan festivities, the Catalan government has said that it will not let EU regulations change local traditions that involve fireworks and bonfires, such as Sant Joan (article in Catalan, Avui). According to recently-proposed European legislation, spectators at events that feature pyrotechnics will have to be kept further back from the fireworks than presently, a law which would have a significant impact on Catalan customs such as the correfoc and Spanish traditions including las falles in Valencia; read the Metropolitan article about this controversial EU legislation here. In the face of this change, the Generalitat's councillor for Culture and Communications, Joan Manuel Tresseras, said yesterday that the government's wish is to prevent European law altering local traditions and customs. With this statement, Tresseras demonstrated the will of the Generalitat to support the colles, local groups who organise correfocs throughout Catalunya.
So far this year, the number of tourists visiting Barcelona has fallen by 12 percent compared to 2008 (article in Catalan, Avui). Despite the bad news, Catalunya is still the most popular Spanish region for tourists to visit, with one in every four who comes to Spain choosing to come to this area. The survey, carried out by the Catalan Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, found that one group in particular have reduced their visits to Catalunya; the number of French people coming here for their holidays has gone down by almost nine percent compared to last year.