On the 23rd June, during the week of the longest day of the year, Spain is lit up with bonfires, bbqs and partying to celebrate San Juan.
Another on our ever-growing list of reasons to love Spain – the celebration of San Juan is one of the craziest and most fun events we’ve ever experienced! Around this time of year in the UK we’d usually head to Stonehenge for the Solstice celebrations so we wanted to find a kind of Spanish equivalent.
We headed to Playa de America in Panxon, which is a beautiful beach for swimming. We parked up in the early evening right on the beach next to four other camper vans and could see that everyone was already getting ready to party.
All around you could see people gathering materials for bonfires; groups of kids walking around with scavenged pallet wood under their arms and wheelbarrows full of logs, families making the trek to get the perfect spot on the beach, laden with as many bags of charcoal as they could carry and cars with boot loads of scrap wood being off-loaded in the beach car parks.
It reminded us of the days when we’d make the journey to camping parties in our hometown – we’d look for anything we could to burn and then carry it for miles to a secluded spot where we wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone. We felt so envious of these kids who were preparing some of the biggest bonfires we’ve ever seen, on the beach, without any worry of being stopped by parents or police.
We went for a walk along the beach and saw the incredible fire pits that had been dug out. Every few metres groups were digging holes with a pit in the centre for the bonfire and then a buried ledge all around it for sitting on. As the night went on and darkness drew in the fires were lit and the beach glowed in the vibrant party atmosphere.
Some of the pits were decorated with leaves from the nearby palm trees and looked so cosy and inviting as groups huddled together around their bonfires and cooked food over the flames.
We looked around in awe and adoration as we thought about how we’d never experienced anything like this in the UK and really couldn’t imagine ever doing so.
As Midnight struck fireworks were let off and gradually people started edging closer to the sea. We decided to join in and go for a quick late night dip.
It seems like the celebration in Panxon is quite a big organised event, with a funfair and market stalls running well in to the early hours of the morning. We’re not sure what it’s like in other Spanish towns but from the photos online it looks like there are lots of other similar kinds of events happening all over the country.
As Galicia is fast becoming one our favourite places we’re sure we’ll return again and make celebrating San Juan a new tradition.