Midsummer’s Eve: St. John’s bonfires night in Malaga

The next June 23, thousands of people of all ages will celebrate along the coast of Malaga the shortest night of the year at the summer solstice known as the ‘Night of San Juan’ in Spain, also called St. John’s bonfires or Midsummer’s Eve.

As you can see in the picture, the coastal beaches are floodlit at night with hundreds of bonfires and campfires to spend an evening with friends and family celebrating, eating, drinking, singing and dancing until past the midnight.

Night of San Juan

It almost doesn´t matter in which coastal town you are staying during this night; you just have to approach the sea shore and you’re in the middle of the party.

Many people prepare for that night the “complete kit” for the summer solstice: A bathing suit under your clothes (important if you want to get a bath at midnight), paper and pencil for the rituals, food, drink, barbecues*. There are people who decide going to the beach for the day and don’t go back to home until late.

(*) Barbecues are an excellent choice where they are allowed. In most municipalities of Malaga they are not on the beach. If interested you have to ask for permission. I guess it is because of the trash from past barbecues.

History and origin

It was known as Summer Solstice festivity. The dances around the bonfire were used to try make the day longer as from then, the days will start to be shorter until the 25th of December, Winter’s Solstice.

Some of the ancient rituals are still preserved, I have included some of them if you want to try your luck. The tradition says that this is the perfect night to keep away the bad spirits, will this be true?

Actually St. John’s festivity is very popular and this is something you will be able to see by yourself once you get to the promenade just before the midnight the 23th of June. Want to join?

Want to know more about the origin? Visit Wikipedia

Where to celebrate the Night of San Juan (bonfires of St. John’s) in Malaga?

They organize events and concerts at the most popular beaches of the Costa del Sol, which are also listed below (The events below are from past years, but they use to make similar organised events every year on the same places):

Beach at midnight

  • Malaga city: The epicentre of fun is the beach La Malagueta, in past events there were two concerts of live music starting at 11 pm, it is common they organized live concerts every year.
  • Torremolinos: The party takes place on the beach of La Carihuela. The bonfires are exactly in front of El Remo square.
  • Benalmadena: The most popular beaches to celebrate are the central beaches of Santa Ana and Bil-Bil.
  • Fuengirola: The event began at 2 pm with Paella, grilled sardines and lasted until dawn, with cocktails, DJs and salsa music.
  • Marbella: In past events it was set up a stage for a concert and DJs at Pinillo Beach, starting at 8 pm.
  • San Pedro de Alcantara: They use to place a stage on the beach of La Salida, also with a concert and DJs. This beach  featured a children’s area with inflatable attractions and entertainment for children.
  • Estepona gather many people on the playa del Cristo.
  • And in Torre del Mar on the eastern Costa del Sol, on the beach of El Copo, there were grilled sardines after 9 pm, entertainment and DJs.

These are the most popular and busy beaches; in fact everywhere there are fires all along the coast; if you have not experienced yet, you should join in, it is very impressive.

Other options for Midsummer’s Eve

Those who prefer to celebrate the Night of San Juan a little more distinguished by the sea, have a vast range of exclusive beach clubs (Nikki Beach or Puro Beach in Marbella) and top-class hotels offering midsummer dinners and parties.

Want to know more from this magical night? Then continue reading.

Superstitions and rituals during Midsummer’s Eve

Fire and water are two essential elements this night. Those who dare will jump the embers of the bonfire while many will take a bath in the sea at midnight for good health or better luck during the rest of the year.

Fire Rituals

Midsummer's Eve bonfire

  • According to fire rituals you have to write the name of the person you love and throw it to the bonfire at midnight. It is supposed than there will be more chances for this person to notice of you.
    Some people write from one to three wishes instead a name. You can try different rituals every year to see which one becomes real sooner.
  • Jumping the embers after the bonfire is extinct or before the flame is too high will bring you good luck. I guess that if you don’t get burnt it counts as a lucky day. This is something I don’t recommend, in fact I got burnt on one leg when I was 8 after trying it.

Water rituals

Midsummer's Eve in Malaga

  • Getting into the water at midnight will help getting rid of bad energies and women can increase their fertility. If you can’t get to the sea you can try washing your face at home, better with sea water.
    (*) The ritual above is supposed not to work if you watch yourself on a mirror before the following day.
  • Another ritual is similar to the fire one where you have to write your soul mate or wishes, but this time you have to throw the paper to the sea at midnight. Sea will take what you wrote and waves might bring your wishes.

Love rituals for making at home

Love ritual during Midsummer's Eve

If you are looking for true love, forget about horoscopes or looking for it at some chat. Here I bring you the real one!

Step by step, finding love in life is quite complicated. It is not going to be that easy with magic even while the Summer Solstice. Before midnight write the name of the person you love and yours in a paper. Bend it, names inside must be one in front of the other. If you don’t know of any name just write ‘Soul mate’.

The next step is boiling water and adding the following: 12 red rose petals, ginger and same parts of Lavender, Verbena and Yarrow. Once mixed let it cool and put the water inside a spry (one of those used for plants is good enough)

Just before midnight spry your bedroom with the water made. Place the paper with the names you wrote under the pillow and finally light two red candles. If you made everything correctly you will have a prophetic dream about your true love.

By the way, be careful with the candles, do not put it near objects than can fire. Special attention to open windows and air streams, it can be dangerous with a flame at night while sleeping.

Have you made any of those rituals and have they worked?

Raúl G.T

Raúl G.T

Developer and content editor at Malagaweb.com
Travel blogger, web developer and content editor. Author of many of the travel guides and tips available online about Andalucia, Malaga and Spain.
Raúl G.T

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Travel blogger, web developer and content editor. Author of many of the travel guides and tips available online about Andalucia, Malaga and Spain.

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