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San Juan night in Andalusia: When and where is it celebrated?

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The San Juan night is on 23 June, although the feast of San Juan is on 24 June. It is one of the oldest traditions celebrating the birth of Saint John the Baptist. Pagan tradition states that bonfires had to be lit to give more strength to the sun during his trance in the midsummer solstice.

If you have the opportunity to celebrate this magical night in the coastal areas of Andalusia, here are the two most outstanding destinations, in our opinion, to celebrate San Juan this summer, Malaga y Cadiz.

Celebrate the night of San Juan in Malaga

A group of young people on the beach at sunset.
A group of young people on the beach at sunset.

The celebration of San Juan is one of the most deeply-rooted festivities of the Costa del Sol, where groups of friends and family gather on the beaches of Malaga to celebrate the arrival of summer and experience a magical night.

Some of the rituals for the night of San Juan in Malaga are to carry out the typical moragas, where a multitude of bonfires on the beaches all along the coast for the burning of the "Júas".This is a way of warding off evil, and where the famous "espetos de sardinas" (sardine skewers) are not to be missed. From midnight on 23 JuneIt is also customary to dip one's feet in the sea, as according to legend, this is the way to change one's fortune and start a new season with better luck.

sardine skewer
sardine skewer

At Malaga city the party concentrates on the Malagueta BeachThere are usually live music concerts from early evening and fireworks are set off. Other beaches of note on this special night are the La Misericordia (Malaga), Bil-Bil Castle (Benalmádena), El Pinillo (Marbella), San Pedro Alcántara (Marbella) or El Cristo (Estepona).

San Juan night in Cádiz

Man walking on the beach in Cádiz
Man walking on the beach in Cádiz

The peculiarity of the Midsummer night in many municipalities in the province of Cadiz, is celebrated with a parade of rag dolls and puppets, commonly known as "puppets".Juanillos"which begins in the afternoon of 23 Juneaccompanied by a brass band that accompanies them to the beach, where they will later be burnt in bonfires scattered throughout the city.

In addition, some municipalities also hold "Juanillos" competitions to reward the best puppet and the best bonfire. Artistic quality, humour, ingenuity and Cadiz tradition are valued in the scoring.

After the burning of these dolls, a fireworks display will be held from the San Sebastian Castlebeing the La Caleta beach an ideal setting to enjoy the play of lights in the Cadiz sky and to kick off the summer. Other beaches where you can celebrate this night of San Juan would be in the Fontanilla beach (Conil de la Frontera), in the beaches of Bolonia, Chiclana or in those of Rota.

Fireworks on San Juan night

As we have already mentioned, the night of San Juan is a magical night for most Andalusians. However, in addition to the province of Malaga and Cadiz, this festivity is also celebrated on the coasts of Granada, Huelva and Almeria. Attracting thousands of tourists year after year. It is a tradition that should not be lost. 

Taking advantage of the fact that you are in Cádiz, you can make a day trip to Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas, one of the most famous white villages in Cádiz. An excellent way to discover all the charms of this fascinating province.

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