Noite de S. João (Saint John’s Night) is actually one of the shortest nights of the year. It’s on June 23rd, after the summer solstice. In Porto, however, it’s the “longest”, and surely, craziest night of the year. Imagine a warm summer night, where everyone plus thousands of visitors go out on the streets to eat, drink, and party, mostly Downtown, Ribeira (river-shore), and Foz (sea-shore) celebrating St. John the Baptist, Porto’s favourite saint.
If it seems like a regular city festival, think again. Besides the midnight fireworks in the river and Luis I bridge (one of the two in Porto projected by Eiffel – the same as Paris’ Tower), people here also fly “small” hot air paper balloons, fuelled by a flaming wax. Where do they eventually fall? Nobody knows. When? Either when the flame’s over or when the balloon burns up. Looking at the sky, there are hundreds of them flying through the night. Beautiful!
Did I already mention that most people have a plastic (bellows) HAMMER? Everyone is supposed to (friendly!) whack everybody else in the head!
Then, the popular dances that go all night. The best ones are in Aliados and in Porto’s traditional neighbourhoods like Miragaia. Beer and barbecued sardines or pork steaks provide the energy to party all night long, and hopefully watch the sun rise.
As this is such an important feast, Porto also has a cultural agenda during June, worth taking a look. The day after, the 24th, is a city holiday. Obviously!