San Juan Sabinillas 2012

On the night of the 23rd June, the Spanish coastal regions celebrate the festival of San Juan. The festival has pagan origins with links to “Midsummer’s night” and involves a huge bonfire built on the beach.

The festival in Sabinillas is like all other Spanish fiestas, everyone joins in, there’s plenty of music dancing and drinking and we all party til dawn!

About a week before the event a large effigy is built on the beach (they were a bit late this year as is it was only put up yesterday) which takes on a different theme each year. Each year’s theme is a closely guarded secret, no-one knows what it will be until it appears on the beach. Previous year’s statues have been an “Estate Agent in space” (when the property market was booming!!) and famous authors. I can reveal though, that this year’s theme is “an underwater scene” – rather apt don’t you think…


Sabinillas beach and promenade will be packed by 10pm with only shuffling space available. You generally find yourself a spot and don’t move until after it’s all over!!

At the stroke of midnight the effigy is set alight – This seems to be the only Spanish Fiesta that actually runs to time!! After all the work that goes into the effigy it seems a shame to destroy it but it’s all part of the Spanish culture.

A few minutes after the start of the bonfire there is a huge firework display. These are some of the best displays I have ever seen with fireworks going off on the beach and out at sea.

After the fireworks it is customary to get your feet (or your whole body!) wet in the sea to cleanse yourself of bad luck. A Spanish friend of mine also told me that you should fill a small bottle with sea water and take it home with you. This is supposed to ward off evil spirits and bring you good fortune. The following year, on San Juan night, you take your bottle of sea water back to the beach, empty it into the sea and refill it again. I’m not sure if any of this is true but I’m all for taking part so this year I’m going armed with a small water bottle!

Throughout the night there’s music and dancing which continues into the early hours – the Spanish people really know how to party!

This is really one of the best festivals in Sabinillas. If you’re in the area on the night of the 23rd June then Sabinillas beach is the place to be – assuming you can find a space that is!!!

Just a note, bring a cardi as sometimes it can get a bit chilli – until the bonfire is lit that is….. Last year, a sea mist came in and it was quite cold, another year,on San Juan night, the wind was really strong, coming off of the sea, yet other years its positively balmy…

If you can’t make it, pop back to this website at the end of June and we’ll see if we can post some pics of this year’s event.

Programme 2012 (all timings approximate):

7.45 pm Parade by the Manilva Town Band.

8.00 pm Ceremonial raising of the Blue Flag awarded to Sabinillas Beach.

11.00 pm Live music from the group “Dinamic”.

11.45 pm Official welcome from Manilva Town Council.

12 midnight The bonfire will be lit, followed by the spectacular firework display.

The music will continue into the early hours of the morning.