San Juan Night in Marbella

The Essential guide to enjoying San Juan, the most magical and mystical night of the year on Marbella’s beaches. Not to be missed!

San Juan takes place on the night of the 23rd of June. It is a very special festival, which celebrates the shortest night of the year and the summer solstice. Pagan in origins and shrouded in magic and mysticism, this is a wonderful time to be in Marbella. There are celebrations on the beaches along the Costa del Sol, with bonfires burning brightly long into the night and friends and families getting together to party. This is definitely not an event to miss if you’re holidaying in Marbella at the end of June.

Here’s our essential guide to enjoying San Juan in Marbella to the full.

What is San Juan Night? Origin and history

Celebrations and rituals on the summer solstice date back to ancient history and with the strong influences of the Phoenicians and Romans in Spain, these celebrations will have been taking place for thousands of years. However, it became San Juan, when the Catholic Church adopted this and many other pagan celebrations and said it was to celebrate the birth of the Saint John the Baptist. However, there are few signs to connect this celebration with John the Baptist and the church and many more pagan, mystical traditions are attached to it.

What are “moragas”?

San Juan is all about fire, and “moragas” play a big part in the celebrations in many places. They are open fires, over which fish is cooked, and can be seen at chiringuitos, often in old fishing boats, throughout the summer. But what makes the moragas different on San Juan night, is that it’s not just the restaurants that do them.

The tradition is for groups and families to head down to the beach and make a fire, to cook on, to gather around and to use for some of the more interesting rituals connected with San Juan in Marbella. Some people take down a disposable barbeque, others dig a fire pit, others decide to go to their favourite beach restaurant, or municipal celebration to avoid having to do it themselves.

Important – Not all beaches allow individuals to light fires, so check the regulations in your area before you plan your own “moraga”.

Rituals of the night of San Juan

On San Juan, you’ll find bonfires being built and lit, all along the Costa del Sol. Some are modest, others huge and some are even flammable sculptures, which look too good to burn. On San Juan night in Marbella, you can expect towering stacks of pallets and wood being constructed on beaches all along the 27.9km of coastline of the Marbella district. These big bonfires are usually lit at midnight, and there are often fireworks as well, to mark the start of the San Juan day itself.

Top tip – Don’t locate yourself too close to these bonfires, trying to get a good view. They throw out a lot of heat, smoke and sparks, so be smart and stay upwind of them and give them some space!

Once the fires are lit, you’ll see many people taking part in some ancient rituals of purification, renewal and to inspire good luck. Here are a few you might want to try.

  1.   Burning pieces of paper in the bonfire on which you’ve written either your wishes for the future, or the things you want to leave behind. This is a way of moving past bad things or habits and bringing in good energy and luck for the future.
  2.   Swim in the sea at midnight to purify your soul and rid you of sins – it’s even said to cure aches and pains. Whatever you believe, it’s a fun thing to do to swim in the sea on a warm summer evening in Marbella.
  3. Jumping over the flames to bring good luck – some people jump over big fires, but more sensible people just have a small fire that they jump over, or choose the very edge of a bonfire. According to tradition you need to jump over it 7 times or more and that will give you good luck for the rest of the year.
  4.   Washing your face with seawater at midnight to give good health and beauty for the rest of the year. This is a good option if swimming at night isn’t your thing.
  5.   Lighting a candle and burying it in the sand – Many people take candles with them if they are celebrating San Juan on the beach and by burning a candle and burying it, it is said to give good harvests and make the earth more fertile. (Don’t forget to take it with you at the end of the evening though).
  6.   Jumping over the waves for fertility – If women jump over 9 waves it is said to boost their fertility

Where to spend the night of San Juan in Marbella?

Any beach in Marbella is a magical place to spend San Juan, whether you just head down to the beach with friends, or you join in with an existing celebration at a chiringuito or a beach club.

If you’d rather cater yourself, then it’s just a case of finding where they are building a bonfire near your holiday rental. Head down there with a disposable BBQ, food, drinks, music, candles and things to sit on. Around 9pm or 10pm is a good time to get down there and find a spot.

Alternatively, find a nice restaurant or beach bar to spend it in. In the run up to the big night, have a walk around the area close to your holiday rental in Marbella and ask your favourite restaurants and bars on the beach if they are doing anything – most will be! Book yourself a table for a late dinner or drinks, remembering that the bonfire isn’t lit until midnight and parties go on very late, so later is better, if you can manage it.

A nice stretch of beach to spend San Juan in Marbella is on Playa de la Fontanilla. There’s a whole stretch of fantastic chiringuitos, tucked under the seafront promenade, including the legendary La Red restaurant. These are great restaurants at any time of the day and year, but having so many in one stretch, plus a bonfire on the beach, gives it a fantastic atmosphere. If your Marbella holiday rental is within walking distance of this section of beach, you’re in luck (as parking is a headache). Just make sure you book in good time!

Another great option is to choose one of the many fantastic beach clubs in Marbella to spend your San Juan night. There are usually special parties and events put on for the night, live music, fireworks and set menus. Some of our favourites include MC Beach, Nikki Beach and Playa Padre. However, we’d recommend popping down to one in walking distance from where you’re staying and finding out what they have planned. These can be pricy occasions, but it’s always special for sure!

Top Tip – Don’t forget a jumper or jacket. It may seem strange when the days are so hot in June, but the beach at night is cool, and because it’s a long one, you’re going to want something to keep you warm, so pack a jumper, cardie, jacket or pashmina.

Where to stay if you’re visiting for San Juan in Marbella?

We’d recommend choosing a beachfront holiday rental in Marbella if you want to enjoy everything San Juan has to offer. You’re right on the sand and can see what’s going on in your area and easily make plans to join in with the fun.

Another good option is a holiday rental on Marbella’s Golden Mile, as there are plenty of options along that stretch and you are within walking distance of the centre, along the seafront promenade.

If Nikki Beach is where you want to spend San Juan, then look for a holiday rental in Elviria.

We hope this guide will help you enjoy San Juan in Marbella to the fullest. If you need any support with finding the perfect holiday rental, or booking VIP extras to make your stay even more special, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.



From Vacation Marbella wants that everyone knows the benefit about staying in Marbella. There are a plenty of activities that you can do with your family, friends or even with you pet. Share the information with everyone and who knows, maybe could join your plans!