San Juan in Vigo is a magical experience. The tradition of celebrating the shortest night of the year goes back long before Christianity, with the celebration of the summer solstice on the night of the 23rd June. Our ancestors feared the sun would not return to its full splendour, so they carried out purifying fire rites at sunset to symbolize the power of the sun and to help it renew its energy.
Vigo celebrates San Juan enthusiastically, around bonfires and performing all kinds of traditional rites; it’s a night when no one sleeps and it’s said that the doors to other worlds are opened. The typical dish of the night of San Juan is grilled sardines, be sure to try them.
After the night-time celebrations, there’s nothing like experiencing a magical sunrise in the Cíes Islands. The great rising solstice sun will make the sky and the estuary melt into a blaze of multi-coloured light you’ll never forget.
Tradition dictates you have to jump over the bonfire nine times to be protected from evil spirits. Another tradition is to collect herbs (herbas de San Xoán) and leave them in water overnight; if you wash your face with the water the next morning, you’ll be healthy for the rest of the year.