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Coruña Submits to St John

Greeting the arrival of summer is taken very seriously by the people of A Coruña. Indeed, the festivity of the Night of St John (San Xoán, in Galician) is celebrated extravagantly, with fire playing a major role in the form of myriad bonfires taking over the beaches, and magic rituals unfolding all over the city. The fiesta has grown ever more popular in recent years and in 2015 was designated an international Tourist Interest event. It is the perfect excuse for a getaway to A Coruña to spend a very special feast of St John.

While the big night is that of 23 June, the preceding week sees the city splashing out on a plethora of concerts, gastro events and children’s activities, although at the back of people’s minds is the Eve of St John on the 23rd, when the ancestral sun worship rituals take place.

“Sardiñadas”

The “sardiñadas” or sardine festival provides the centrepiece of the Festa de San Xoán. The city is impregnated with the characteristic smell at dinner time, what with sardine cook-offs organised by grass-root associations studding the streets and spilling over into the bars. The grilled sardines are usually eaten with broa (corn bread), which you should make a point of tasting. To round off the experience, be sure to have the local punch known as queimada to set you well on your way in this long, grand festival night.

Beach Bonfires

Fire is unquestionably the highlight of the Night of St John, and the beaches, where most of the celebrations are concentrated, become filled with light and charm. So, be sure to head for any of the beaches as night falls and set up your own bonfire, or else tag along with any of the numerous groups you will encounter on your way – they are certain to welcome you into the fold. You could always head for either Orzán or Riazor, where most people congregate or, if you are the sort that tends to avoid large crowds, we suggest you choose a smaller beach, like San Amaro or Las Lapas, or the tiny coves of Adormideras. The idea is to pick your perfect spot for spending the shortest night in the year.

The moment of maximum splendour is midnight, when the main effigy or Falla is lit on the beach of Riazor. This is preceded by fireworks which, together with the bonfires, fill the calm waters fringing the seaside promenade with light. Then starts a fiesta which is sure to see you through to daybreak, and the nocturnal events will be redolent with a host of purification rituals. The idea is to put all the bad things from the previous year behind you, in order to start afresh, or to simply have a great time on such a special night.

TExt by Turismo A Coruña