What will this year’s ‘different’ Sant Joan celebrations look like?

Barcelona beaches will be closed, fireworks will be allowed but groups will have to be of maximum 20 people

Fireworks go off for Sant Joan on June 23 2016 (by Lourdes Casademont)
Fireworks go off for Sant Joan on June 23 2016 (by Lourdes Casademont) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 10, 2020 06:14 PM

The eve of Sant Joan, or Saint John’s Day (June 24), is a synonym for fireworks launched from homes and squares, beaches filled with picnics and drinks, and streets filled with live music and bonfires every year in Catalonia.

It is a nocturnal festival of fire and food that marks the beginning of the warm summer weather and a celebration of one of the shortest nights of the year. 

Yet, the night of June 23 will also be disrupted somewhat in Catalonia by the Covid-19 pandemic, as authorities warn that Sant Joan will be “different” this year. 

On Friday, the home affairs minister and the top civil protection authorities presented a campaign appealing to the “responsibility” of the public when celebrating this year’s festival. 

Under Phase 3 regulations 

The home affairs minister, Miquel Buch, said that they foresee that if the trend of the coronavirus continues in its current downward trajectory, the whole of Catalonia will be in Phase 3 on Sant Joan’s eve. 

This means that the celebration will have to be held under this de-escalation stage’s restrictions, including groups of not more than 20 people, and parties or events with a maximum capacity of 80 people if indoors and 800 if outdoors as long as they are seated.

That’s why authorities recommended “a celebration with the family” and urged against groups of 20 people from assembling and forming bigger crowds. 


Under Phase 3, the beaches are allowed to open – although local councils can introduce tightened regulations –, and Buch said that on the night of June 23, limitations will be “the same” as on other nights. 

That said, the Barcelona council announced on Wednesday that beaches in the Catalan capital, which usually are packed with revelers every Sant Joan, will be shut this year to prevent too many people from gathering on them and to encourage smaller-scale celebrations. Others followed soon afterwards, so a lot of major seaside towns will have their beaches closed on June 23

Sergio Delgado, the head of civil protection, emphasized the need for people to “be responsible with security measures,” such as avoiding crowds and observing safety distances.  

The same applies to street celebrations, where live music and bonfires are customary. 

Fireworks and Covid-19 protection

Fireworks are one of the most traditional elements of Sant Joan, and this year will be no different. 

However, authorities not only made their usual warnings, such as not to use them less than 500 meters from green areas to avoid wildfires, but also said they might be especially dangerous with the Covid-19 protection elements. 

Delgado reminded that sanitizers are flammable, and they should not be carried while dealing with fireworks, and added that any masks worn on the face can quickly get burned with any spark.