The Costa del Sol will be illuminated by blazing bonfires on Saturday 23 June, as thousands of revellers head to the beaches to enjoy the Fiesta de San Juan. At midnight, huge firework displays will mark the arrival of the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. The festival is celebrated on 24 June, but in most countries, festivities are held the night before. This is one of the few saints' days which commemorate the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death of the saint.
The festival of San Juan, which marks the beginning of the summer, is shrouded in pagan rituals; of which fire and water are the main protagonists. Fires are lit to ward off evil spirits that are said to roam freely at sunset. It is said that jumping over the fire three times will eliminate ones problems, while a midnight dip in the sea will clean and purify the soul. According to tradition, the water is at its purest on the eve of San Juan and it is also believed to bring happiness for the next 12 months.
The celebrations, which generally start around 9pm, are part of the traditional 'moraga', which means to 'roast in the open air'. In this case, it refers to the grilling of sardines on the beach. Prizes are awarded for the most inventive juas or effigies, similar to the British custom of Guy Fawkes, which is then burned on the bonfire.
The night arrives with special intensity on Malaga's Playa La Malagueta. This is one of the bigger fiestas and includes live music and entertainment, which continues until the early hours.
Torre del Mar holds a huge beach party on the Paseo Maritimo Levante, while in Rincón de la Victoria, the party takes place on the Playa El Tajo.
The moraga de San Juan in Torremolinos is celebrated in the Plaza del Remo in Carihuela, but one of the most stunning firework displays will be found on the area of beach between Santa Ana and the Castillo Bil Bil in Benalmádena Costa.
Other parties take place on the Playa San Francisco in Fuengirola; in Marbella, where the event is concentrated around the Playa El Pinillo, and on the Playa de Rada in Estepona.
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