There are likely to be some sore heads across Spain this morning, as last night saw the start of the frenetic, fire-filled festival of Saint Joan.

One of the highlights of the Spanish social calendar, the celebrations take place everywhere from Menorca to Alicante – and it’d be a bit of an understatement to say things tend to get a little bit lively.

If you want to experience it for yourself next year, then Barcelona’s celebrations are ideal for those who want the excitement of a Spanish fiesta close to the confines of a city. Here’s what you should expect.

When is it?

Although the actual feast day is June 24th, the majority of the celebrations take place on the evening of June 23rd. Most of Barcelona’s shops will remain closed on June 24th.

Where is it?

There are parties throughout Barcelona and most of the locals will celebrate with their friends at a house party. If you don’t have a house party to go to, Barceloneta Beach is the next best thing. You’ll find that it tends to fill up quickly, so aim to get there early. Make like the locals and bring a picnic, sourced from La Boqueria, and a bottle of Cava. Alternatively, restaurants along the beach put out extra tables to cope with the higher than usual demand – but you’ll probably still want to book in advance.

What Happens?

The Festival of Saint Joan is more traditionally known as Nit de Foc, or to translate into English, the night of fire. This should give some indication of what goes on, with firework displays being the main draw. You’ll also see many bands and DJs providing the soundtrack to the evening’s revelry, with stages set up to entertain the crowds.

Traditionally a bread cake known as the Coque is eaten on the day. These are available in both sweet and savoury incarnations and typically flavoured with aniseed.

Bars can be found around the beach serving alcoholic drinks and tapas. If the beach looks too full, firework displays are also put on around the surrounding plazas. Look out for the actors in themed costumes running around with sparklers. The celebrations go on long into the night – but don’t worry about having a late one – luckily, there’s a public holiday the next day to recover.

Have you been to the Festival of Saint Joan?

Main image: Alflickr via Flickr