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Firefighters attend to 40% fewer calls on atypical Sant Joan night

Barcelona residents wake up to clean beaches on Wednesday morning after the facilities were closed for the night


24 June 2020 11:33 AM


ACN | Barcelona

Sant Joan, Catalonia’s festival of fire and food, is a celebration loved by most of the population, but one that often involves a lot of stressful work for the emergency services. 

However, as the holiday was celebrated in a very different manner this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions, firefighters attended to 40% fewer calls compared with last year. 

Across Catalonia, firefighters attended 709 calls between 8 pm on Tuesday evening and 8 am on Wednesday morning, a drop of 39.7% on the number of recorded incidents last year, when 1,175 calls were made. 

Most services were to deal with fires to street furniture, vehicles, and at homes, while no major incidents were reported. 

According to a statement from the Fire Brigade, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area was the busiest area, as the Vallès Occidental county had the most calls with 153. 

142 people received medical assistance in hospitals and primary care centers throughout Catalonia, a drop of 42% compared to 2019. 

Closed beaches, clean beaches

As people traditionally party on the beaches throughout the night of Sant Joan, with drink, food, and fireworks, over the past couple of years this has led to images of Barcelona’s beaches littered with empty cans, food packaging, and rubbish the morning after. 

However, as the Catalan capital closed its beaches on Tuesday night to avoid people crowding together, residents of the city are waking up this morning to clean beaches

At 8.30 on Wednesday morning, citizens were once again allowed to access the sands to bathe, swim, and practice sports, an hour and a half earlier than the city council initially said they would re-open the beaches.  

Sant Joan at home

Across Catalonia, more families than ever celebrated the nocturnal festival with events at home, rather than out in the streets like normal. 

Conscious of avoiding contact with others, people up and down the country enjoyed one of the shortest nights of the year by lighting flares and fireworks from their balconies rather than in squares. 

In L'Espluga de Francolí, a town north of Tarragona, the association of ‘Devils’ that organize much of the Sant Joan festivities wanted to keep many of the usual traditions and values of the celebration. As part of the tradition, people dressed up in devil costumes light many of the fireworks and firecrackers while dancing on the streets. 

A total of 1,500 flares were lit from balconies, and three almost simultaneous fire castles were lit in vantage points to allow the spectacle to be seen, at least in part, by everybody. 

For their part, in Vila-rodona they held a bonfire, enjoyed the parade of the devils, and ate a communal dinner.

Beaches open around the country

In northern Catalonia, beaches in the town of Roses hosted families enjoying the atypical festival. 

The beach and promenade were filled with families and small groups of friends on Tuesday night to celebrate the festival of Sant Joan. 

All in all, groups kept prudent safety distances between each other, while the local police patrolled the areas to ensure compliance with the distancing. 

No bonfires were lit on the beach this year in Roses, but the fireworks lit up the sea regardless. 

The population of the Costa Brava revived a festive atmosphere despite the restrictions due to the coronavirus. 


  • Smoke and firecrackers let off during the Sant Joan celebrations in the town of Vila-rodona (by Roger Segura)

  • Smoke and firecrackers let off during the Sant Joan celebrations in the town of Vila-rodona (by Roger Segura)