On the night of 23 June every year the Malaga coast is lit up, both literally and metaphorically, as thousands of people head to the beaches to enjoy the Noche de San Juan (Saint John’s Eve).
This festival, which marks the beginning of the summer, is full of pagan rituals centred around fire and, of course, water.
As part of the festivities, you have to jump three times over one of the blazing bonfires which are seen for miles along the coastline. They are lit to ward off evil spirits and doing so will (supposedly) rid you of your problems.
After this, a midnight dip in the sea, which according to tradition is purest on this night, will clean and purify your soul.
Also at midnight, huge firework displays mark the arrival of the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, whose feast day is actually on the 24 June (though in most countries the festivities are held the night before).
It’s interesting to note that this is one of the few saints’ days which commemorate the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death of the saint.
Celebrations are particularly lively on La Malagueta beach, where the evening gets started at around 9pm.
Also lively will be the much bigger La Misericordia and El Palo beaches, albeit with a less international feel and more local vibes.
This is one of the bigger fiestas and includes live music and entertainment, which continues until the early hours.
Given the timing of the event, the Fiesta de San Juan attracts a lot of university students who use the opportunity to burn their study notes following the exam period!
Another element to look out for is the burning of ‘juas’ (effigies) for which a prize for the most creative is awarded.
Daryl moved to Malaga permanently in 2014 having first fallen in love with the city on his Erasmus year. After working for many years at local expat newspaper SUR in English, Daryl gained expert knowledge in life from the perspective of foreign residents and decided to co-found Malaga Guru in 2016.