La Fiesta de San Juan is a massive festival celebrated across Spain in many Catalan-speaking towns however the largest celebration began around 1928 and occurs every year on June 24 on the beach of Alicante, where la Fiesta de San Juan is considered the city’s most important festival.
This exhilarating festival is topped off with massive bonfires in the city of Alicante where participants feast and burn old furniture and wood in celebration of the night of the patron saint John the Baptist. It’s a tradition young people to jump over the roaring bonfires. Around midnight, hundreds of participants throw “muñecos” or dolls into the fire to be burnt – traditionally the dolls represented Judas Iscariot. Shortly after burning the dolls, many of the participants journey into the water to wash their feet and faces three times, a tradition to grant twelve months of peace after the event. Although the beautiful bonfires are the most memorable event during la Fiesta de San Juan, Alicante celebrates a five-day build up to the bonfires with many exciting events filled with parades, fireworks and dressing in traditional clothing.
Beginning on June 19, Alicante begins to prepare for the awe-inspiring bonfires as monuments and archways are set up in the streets and figs are eaten nightly. Every day at 08:00 in the morning, citizens wake up with noise and clamoring going on in the streets and at 14:00 fireworks and firecrackers are set off. Bullruns occur at 19:00 and every night from 23:00 to 06:00 citizens party in the streets with dancing and drinks. Two incredible parades occur on June 21 and June 23. The first on June 21 is the Street Band Parade and the second on June 23 is the International Folklore Parade. All throughout these events, citizens dress in three types of traditional clothing: women dress as the Beauty, or queen of the festival, don attire representing the Alicantinian Bride (Novia alicantina), common women dress as farmers (labradora) and men sport costumes called zaragüelles.
La Fiesta de San Juan is an exciting time and a great reason to visit Spain. It combines traditional Christian, Catholic and pagan rituals and beliefs to make one amazing festival that Spaniards and visitors will never forget.