A Spectacular Spanish Tradition
The Summer solstice is the longest day of the year and that is the occasion for a lot of festivities known as the bonfires of Saint John, in many parts of the world, and particularly throughout Spain. If you are on holidays on the coastal areas of Spain, you will see bonfires on the beaches and people partying all night on June 23. If you love noisy Spanish, street parties, lots of food, alcohol and people, this is for you!
Alicante on the east coast of Spain has a very exciting program of festivities for over a week from June 20. It is one of the biggest celebrations known there as “Las Hogueras de San Juan” (The Bonfires of St John). It is a spectacular event, full of music, colour and fireworks, attended by thousands of people every year since it became official in 1928. It is however a tradition established over centuries.
The people of Alicante would traditionally gather for a festive dinner and at midnight they would light bonfires and dance around them, set off fireworks and go swimming.
Bonfires Of Saint John, A Fiesta Not To Be Missed
In Alicante this traditional great homage to fire takes huge proportions. It starts with enormous cardboard, papier maché and wooden figures being displayed in the main squares of the city. These genuine works of ephemeral art go up in flames in the bonfires on the night of San Juan.
Every festival needs a queen. She is known as the “Bellea del Foc” (“Beauty of Fire”), a title hotly contested by candidates from every neighborhood. This year Ana Belén Castelló was elected on May 8. You can see her in her traditional costume here
The festivities officially begin on 20 June. That day the “plantà” begins. That is the building of enormous bonfires. Huge humourous cardboard figures are placed in the bonfires, bringing fun and excitement to the streets of Alicante for the next 3 days. Large tents called “barracas” are also erected where fiesta-goers can sample the traditional figs and “cocas” (a kind of pastry with tuna, onions and pine nuts) and where they will dance.
Alicante’s Bonfires Of Saint John Program Highlights
The festivities include
- The Entry of the Bands and Committees, with all their “Beauties of Fire” accompanied by their ladies-in-waiting in traditional costume;
- The floral offering to the Virgin of El Remedio, patron saint of the city (June 21/22);
- The international folklore parade of dance troupes coming from all over the world;
- Daily firework displays in Plaza de los Luceros (at 2pm, 19-24 June): these “mascletàs” are deafening with many exploding firecrackers and rockets. Do not forget your ear-plugs!!
- At midnight on 24 June, the “cremà” (burning) is the high point of the event: After a spectacular white palm tree of fireworks, all the bonfires are set alight and blaze away as the crowd sings and dances, showered with water by fire-fighters (that is the “banyá”);
- A fireworks competition on the El Postiguet beach from 25 to 29 June;
- A medieval market in the historic centre of the town;
- Many shows.
To Know More About The Program
If you are keen to experience “Las Hogueras de San Juan”, the Bonfires Of Saint John, in Alicante, and enjoy the beaches of the east coast of Spain, you can get more information about the program of the festivities by emailing
or check their website http://www.hogueras.org/ or you can call (Tel. +34 965145499)
And importantly we recommend you practice and refresh your Spanish, or simply learn the basics that will allow you to fully enjoy your trip. We are here to help! Check out the options we offer. https://www.almajelanguages.com.au/product-category/spanish/