Sant Joan fireworks
Tonight may be the shortest night of the year, but for most of Barcelona, and Spain, the celebrations won't end until the morning. To commemorate the summer solstice, the whole of Barcelona will erupt tonight, in a spectacular fusion of fireworks, bonfires, and boozing. With almost every establishment jumping on the Sant Joan bandwagon, the sheer plethora of revetlles (parties), fogueres (fireworks), botellòns, and overall merriment around every corner may leave you overwhelmed.
On the eve of Sant Joan, each barrio holds its own set of celebrations and rituals centred around the symbols of fire, water and herbs, originating from the ancient rituals and customs of pagan tradition. Fire is lit to ward off evil spirits, using old furniture and wood with the belief that the ashes cure those with skin disease. At selected locations across Barcelona, ceremonial bonfires, known as the Flamas del Canigó, so-named after the Pyrenees mountain range, provide the night's ceremonial focal points. Since 1955, tradition sees firewood shipped to the top of Canigó every year, forming a magnificent spectacle seen throughout northern Catalonia. So follows the chain of Flamas del Canigó to symbolise the unity of the Catalan people and their culture.
L'Eixample and Les Corts may not host any official bonfires, but there is revelry aplenty on the streets of these barrios. You'll be hard pressed not to find the festivities in Eixample, with Carrer Mallorca's surrounding streets brimming with fogueres and revetllas, or take your six-pack and blanket to Parc de Joan Miró to enjoy a leafier setting. Don't expect to escape the blasts further afield in Les Corts, with streets drowning in firework stalls and people eager to buy them and the crowds swarming to Sant Ramon and the gardens of l'Hotel Rey Juan Carlos. Gràcia's main revetlles will take place in Plaça Rovira an Plaça del Nord, whilst Sarría San-Gervasi's Passeig Bonanova does its part to light up the skies with an extensive firework display. If you really want to banish those evil spirits, Sants-Monjuïc is the place to be with two Flamas del Canigó, held at the the Centre Cívic Casinet d'Hostafrancs and Plaça del Sortidor. Maybe bring along a chair or two to throw into the fire in the true spirit of Sant Joan.
East of the centre of Barcelona also offers up a delicious buffet of celebrations to get you into the spirit Sant Joan. Catch another of the few flamas del Canigó in the city in Sant Andreu´s Plaça de Can Fabra or, if you can't take the heat, head over to Plaça Jardins d'Eix for, need it be said, another firework display. Sant Martí's Avenida Meridiana host the barrio's fireworks whilst Parc del Centre del Poblenou and Plaça de Sant Martí will be awash with dance and drinking. Not to be overlooked for its less central location, Nou Barris is holding a special event which includes dinner and dancing all accompanied by the 'La Lluna de València' orchestra, hosted by Casal de Barri La Cosa Nostra. Or if classical music is not for you, you'll find plenty to do in Plaça Àngel Pestaña. Located in Horta Guinardó, La rambla del Carmel and el Mirador also present a night of dinner and dance, with the revetlla and fireworks taking place on Carrer Varsòvla.
The only official celebration in the Old Town and arguably the biggest in the city will by Plaça de Barceloneta's Nit del Foc. Don't expect much breathing space as the beach with be swarmed with beer-guzzling adolescents armed with packs of fireworks and questionable fire-safety standards, trilby-toting tourists wearing their Ray-bans at midnight, and countless lone wanderers, looking for their friends, or the toilets, or both. But to catch the spectacle of fireworks erupt over the reflective waters of the Mediterranean, it may be worth fighting out the crowds.
See our related content for more ideas on where to spend the shortest night of the year and check out the website www.bcn.es/estiu for full details.