Festival of San Juan, Tenerife Style

Certain festivals seem to sum up life in Spain with its love for having a good time. La Noche de San Juan is one of these events. In cities and towns everywhere, particularly those close to the sea, the celebration is very important.  In Tenerife, we celebrate our own little bit of midsummer madness in an atmosphere of music, fireworks and tradition.

More so, in the north of the island than the south you will find beautiful displays of fruit vegetables and flowers. I’ve not seen these myself and the photo is taken from the internet but easily recognisable as Puerto de la Cruz.

Things to do Tenerife, Feast of San Juan

In Los Cristianos, close to where I live, the celebration to welcome the summer is mainly held on the beach.  In the early evening, people throng the streets and seafront walkway. No! it’s not to watch Spain beat France at the football (even though it was a great game!).  It is to watch the statue of San Juan being carried down to the harbour.  Then it is onto the beach where families have spent the day building bonfires. Wherever you look along the coastline, you will see fires burning brightly.

Mythology states that strange occurrences take place on the shortest night of the year.

The people of Tenerife are not averse to a bit of madness or strange occurrences.  San Juan is about changes, it is about fire and water. Fire purifies and water rejuvenates, so it is common to see locals jumping over their bonfires. According to tradition, if they jump over three times, they will be cleansed and purified.  They write special messages onto pieces of paper and in order for their wish to come true, it must be cast onto the flames.  Families and groups of friends have picnics sitting round specially decorated holes in the sand where they have placed candles and flowers to capture the magic of the night.

The smell of smoke permeates the air and there is a feeling of friendship that crosses age, culture and background. The sight of people stripping off and wandering into the water after midnight is a memorable, almost surreal and is supposed to wash away evil spirits.

As dawn breaks in Puerto de la Cruz it is time for the traditional Baño de Cabras  when local farmers, bring their flocks of goats down to the fishing port where the animals receive their annual bath. The origins of this tradition are lost in time, it is probable connected to pagan rites of purification but these days the seawater is a good way to remove dirt from the animal’s coats, heal small wounds and amaze the tourists!

Jack Montgomery a resident of Puerto gave me permission last year to use this image that he took of the bathing belles.

Depending where you experience La Noche de San Juan and it needs to be experience at least once, you will find yourself entranced by the spectacle.


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5 Responses to Festival of San Juan, Tenerife Style

  1. sonia pacheco says:

    This celebration is of great important in the city of Puerto de la Cruz where various cultural acts such as concerts and pyromusical shows begin in the late afternoon around the Castillo San Felipe and Playa Jardin. This is where thousands of people get together and surrender to the popular fiesta with candles and wishes, where in order for their wish to come true, it must first be written on a piece of paper and casted onto the fire.

  2. Sugel says:

    The good luck part of this tradition is, perhaps, questionable in its reliability, but it is a happy celebration where family and friends get together and enjoy food, music and the good company. Of course, since so many people live in the San Juan area (and it is his namesake), you will find throngs of people at those beaches (seriously — it can be almost elbow to elbow). A beach in the San Juan area is the place to be if you want to really experience the scene — a huge beach party. Many of the hotels in San Juan will have some type of organized event happening on their beaches.

    • I assume that is not San Juan in Tenerife as you can count the number of hotels on 1 finger LOL But wherever you celebrate it is a great time to be with friends and family.

  3. mark n lel says:

    We watched the bonfires and fireworks on Fanabe beach last night

  4. Tricia says:

    would have loved to be there

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