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Illustration by Juan Capitoni
Sant Joan Barcelona
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Photo by dvanzuijlekom: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dvanzuijlekom/
Sant Joan Fireworks
People tend to either love or hate Sant Joan. If you're not keen on crowds, and kids with firecrackers make you uneasy then your best bet is to leave the city for a quiet weekend somewhere. Or, find a friend with a terrace and enjoy some coca de Sant Joan and drinks al fresco, watching the mayhem and smelling the gunpowder from a safe distance. But, the best option by far is to do as the Romans and throw yourself into this crazy, fire-frenzied Summer solstice along with the rest of the city.
The Revetlla de Sant Joan (or Nit de Foc) officially kicks off at 7pm when the Canigó flame arrives in at the Ajuntament in Pl. Sant Jaume. This flame is escorted, Olympics-style, from the Canigó mountain in northern Catalunya to light bonfires in towns and cities across Catalunya. In Barcelona it is welcomed by traditional music and dancing gégants. From here more torches are lit and these are taken to light bonfires in the different Barcelona neighbourhoods. At 8.30pm there are fireworks from the roof of the Ajuntament.
If you want to stay in your barrio, this Ajuntament website has a map of all the events and bonfires around the city plus a free app. See it here. Every neighbourhood has activities and a bonfire and many hold street parties with makeshift dining tables set up outside and lots of bonhomie. If you have kids and want to enjoy the fireworks peacefully, another good option is to head up to Montjuïc, where you'll get panoramic views and no crowds.
The origins of Sant Joan lay in a pagan rite to purify the soul and the celebrations were seen by Christians as a festival influenced by the devil. Take a little wander through the partying hordes in the old town and enjoy the hedonism. Bars and clubs around the city offer special Sant Joan parties and especially worth checking out are Razzmatazz and Sala Apolo. But the beach is where the main action is. Over 70,000 people flock down to the beaches where the chiringuitos crank up the music and bring out the Djs. Find a mellow spot, settle down with some beers and music, enjoy the vibe and be thankful that the 24th is a public holiday.