We are so lucky to have our real estate agency in Sabinillas, just a block away from the seafront promenade and very close to the beautiful statue Monumento en Homenaje al Pescador. It’s a fantastic location and we’re right in the centre of all the action when it comes to the amazing events that take place here. The jewel in the crown of the summer events schedule has to be the Noche de San Juan celebrations and so as Sabinillas area experts, we wanted to give you the low down on this incredible event.
San Juan Night is a huge party on the 23rd of June to celebrate the summer solstice. All along the coast you will see people building bonfires and setting off fireworks at midnight, but in Sabinillas it is bigger and better!
Our San Juan party includes a different sculpture by a local artist which looks way too good to be set alight, as well as live music and entertainment, rides for the kids, bars all along the paseo and a brilliant atmosphere.
What’s Noche de San Juan all about?
San Juan celebrates the shortest night of the year and the summer solstice. It’s a pagan tradition to light bonfires on the summer solstice, apparently to give more power to the sun. It’s also associated with Saint John the Baptiste, but now it’s just a great opportunity to celebrate the start of the summer with a big party and bonfires.
Some fun traditions to try
There’s a lot of symbolism and superstition connected with San Juan and the bonfires are said to purify and ward off evil spirits. It’s fun to join in with the traditions, even if you’re sceptical.
At midnight, you’ll see many people go into the sea to wash their feet and their face in the water to purify themselves. Many make three wishes while washing and some actually swim for total purification.
Another thing to do, if you’re brave enough, is to jump over the fire three times for good luck. But if that sounds a bit scary, then you can write down your wishes or problems on a piece of paper and put it into the fire. This is supposed to grant your wishes and burn away your problems.
When does it take place?
On the evening of the 23rd of June, which this year is a Friday. It centres around the burning of the bonfire and the fireworks at midnight and then the entertainment runs until very late.
However, families tend to start arriving down on the beach from around 8pm, with blankets, chairs drinks and picnics, to enjoy the atmosphere and play on the beach until the bonfire is lit and then leave shortly after.
Where does it take place?
The main area is around the statue in the middle of the Sabinillas promenade very near our office. Here’s a link to it on Google Maps. The bonfire is built on the beach to the left of the statue and then back from the statue you will find a big stage with performers and DJs.
Pretty much all the bars along that stretch of the paseo will set up outside, serving drinks in plastic cups, which you can take onto the beach.
At the La Noria end of the paseo and also on the other end by the Plaza de los Maestros (Burger King and San Luis school area) there tend to be rides and activities for the kids.
There are people selling things all along the paseo as well, and there is a great atmosphere between La Noria and San Luis school, but the main action is around the statue.
How to enjoy the Noche de San Juan to the full
There are a few ways to do it, depending on your budget and what your group is looking for.
Option 1 is to book a table at one of the beachfront restaurants and enjoy a leisurely meal. You will definitely need to book and we’d recommend booking for as late as you can handle eating, as the later it gets, the better.
By eating in a restaurant, you enjoy a delicious meal and table service for drinks, you miss the worst of the crowds, while still soaking up the atmosphere and you also get to use their toilets – something which is a big selling point with so many people trying to use the few toilets on the beach.
Option 2 is to arrive at the beach earlier, with blankets, chairs, drinks, a picnic or disposable BBQ and set yourself up for the evening. This is a lot of fun and easier to then run into the sea at midnight and generally enjoy the fully San Juan experience. However, the lack of toilet facilities can be an issue.
Whichever way you do it, we’d definitely recommend a stroll down the paseo earlier on in the evening, before the crowds build too much, to see what’s going on and soak in the atmosphere.
You need to try and stay until midnight at least to see the bonfire lit.
Then you can head to the stage and dance the night away, or pack up your chairs and head back after the bonfire is out and the fireworks have gone off.
Whatever you choose, we know you’ll have a great time!
Where to park?
Thousands and thousands of people descend on this little seaside town for San Juan and the parking is not easy at all, especially as some roads near the front are closed off.
Don’t try and park in the middle of the action! Take a look at the areas either end of the paseo if you’re there relatively early. Around La Noria has a decent amount of parking and is within an easy walk of the middle. The other end of the paseo by La Colonia is also a good option, as there’s quite a lot of free parking right by the beach and just back from it.
However, if you get there later on in the night there won’t be anything there, so parking over the other side of the coastal road and then walking over one of the footbridges, or down through the centre of town can be an excellent option. Here are a few places worth trying with links to Google Maps –
Top Tips to a great San Juan in Sabinillas
- Bring something warm to wear – It sounds crazy, but night time on the beach, even in the summer does feel cold, so you’re going to want a jumper or a wrap to wear, or a blanket to use
- Be prepared to be up late – The best part of the event happens around midnight and beyond, so get there later and stay later, or if you want to enjoy the beach first, be prepared to be there for a good long while
- Think about the crowds – Especially if you’re going with little ones, the crowds on the paseo can be really difficult to navigate. If you’re trying to move around later in the evening with the family in tow, you’re best to avoid the central area of the paseo. We recommend walking along on the sand until you can see a bit of space and then go to your car from there, otherwise it can be very difficult with prams and stressful for tired kids.
- Take toilet paper and be ready to queue – The bathrooms are not in the best shape by the mid to end of the night and there are big queues of people waiting to use them, so go and find them earlier than strictly necessary and remember some toilet paper. If that sounds like your idea of a nightmare, then booking a table in a restaurant is an excellent idea so you can use their facilities.
We hope you found our Insider’s Guide to San Juan in Sabinillas useful. We’d love to hear your experiences or tops tips, so please comment with anything you think we left out!
Enjoy the party!