The Bonfire Night, Noche de San Juan, is celebrated every year on the night of June 23 in all the towns and villages on the island. This Christian celebration has ties with the pagan summer solstice festivities, which the main event were the bonfires. The purpose of these bonfires was to feed the sun with energy, as the arrival of the summer solstice shortens the days until the winter months. The fire is also a symbol of purification. Many people celebrate San Juan on the beach to take a purifying swim in the sea at midnight.
The Tradition and Magic of the San Juan Celebrations
There are numerous rituals which are practiced during the celebrations of this magical night. Many people practice rituals relating to witchcraft, spiritual healing and clairvoyance by throwing flowers, fruits or coins to the sea. It is considered the most magical night of the year in which all kinds of mystical spells and rituals have their strongest power. The night of San Juan is a great tradition on the island of Gran Canaria and in all of the towns here.
Noche de San Juan in the capital Las Palmas
In the capital, Las Palmas, this celebration is particularly important as Las Palmas was founded five centuries ago on the day of San Juan. Throughout the week leading up to San Juan there are plenty of events and celebrations to commemorate this. Below you can see the drumming groups on the Canteras Beach – Photo: grancanaria.tv.com
The large bonfires that are made up on Las Canteras beach and the open air concerts near the Alfredo Kraus auditorium attract thousands of people to celebrate the Noche de San Juan in Las Palmas. From the beach front people can admire the great firework display which are launched from the land and sea creating a harmony of light and colour throughout the night sky. The night of San Juan has become without a doubt one of the most celebrated parties in the capital of the island.
Other Celebrations on the Noche de San Juan
The Town of Telde also celebrates the patron saint of San Juan the baptist in the historic neighbourhood of San Juan. Its streets and squares are full of history and home to a very beautiful church. Telde is the most mystical town on the island of Gran Canaria for this celebration, as in this area people feel that superstition is very important. It’s history, legends, rituals and customs are still leaving a mark on this town.
In the coastal village of Melanara, a big bonfire illuminates the night for hundreds of people who go there with the intention of bathing in the sea at midnight. Also on the beach it is possible to see the firework display which is being launched from out at sea lighting up the night sky, plenty of spectators light small bonfires near the shoreline and then sit around the fires enjoying the most magical night of the year.
On the long beach of Playa del Inglés, thousands of people also gather there every year, making little pick nicks and going for a night swim. Bonfires are not allowed, but a fantastic firework display is offered around 10:00 pm.
Text: Juan Perdomo Translation: Amanda Belmonte
Name of Event: Night of San Juan
Place: Playa de Las Canteras, Las Palmas. Y otros sitios de la isla, incluyendo Playa del Inglés, Melenara y Telde.
Hour: Evening & Night
Date: 23 Julio
Highlight: Fireworks Display
Official Web Page: Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas
Top Image: grancanariatv.com
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My name is Amanda Belmonte and I am a web/graphic designer and photographer. I have lived in the Canary Islands for almost 15 years. Although I have lived in Lanzarote for most of that time, Gran Canaria has always been my dream Island to live on, yet it has taken me 13 years to get here.
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