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Following the Catalan tradition of stands devoted to the Christmas holidays, the fair of the Sagrada Família offers many types of complements, from figures and accessories for the traditional nativity scenes to Christmas trees and various decorations. The handicrafts from different countries and by different artists also stand out. The festive atmosphere around this characteristic area of Barcelona is complemented with stands of craft foods such as torrons, cheeses, cold meats, sweets and chestnuts.
On September 11th 1714 the city of Barcelona fell after a long siege by the duke of Berwick in the War of the Spanish Succession. The French Bourbons were fighting against the Austrian Habsburgs to obtain the control of the Spanish Crown. This date also represented the abolition of the Catalan civil institutions and rights. September 11th was chosen for its symbolism to commemorate Catalonia's National Day (Diada Nacional de Catalunya). During the whole day protest activities, as well as entertaining ones, take place in Barcelona and in other towns throughout the country. Traditionally, in the morning of September 11th the political parties and entities bring floral tributes to the monument of Rafael de Casanova, who had an outstanding participation in the War of the Spanish Succession. Many museums of Barcelona also take part in this event with an open day.
One of Catalonia's most famous traditions is that of the "castells" (castles), which are human towers that are lifted by building different levels of people until reaching insane heights that can go up to ten stories. There is no mechanical help, and tens and even hundreds of people can take part in it. The "castellers" are the people who carry out this activity, which is over 200 years old.
Acknowledged as Immaterial Cultural Heritage by Unesco, his origin is believed to be around the area of Tarragona, Catalonia's second most important province after Barcelona. During the 20th Century this practice spread all over Catalonia. The "castellers" are grouped in "colles" that normally take the name of its place of origin.
The Santa Eulàlia Festival, the winter festival of Barcelona, is for all the family. During these magical days, tribute is paid to the brave Laia, the girl who rebelled to defend her aims. For the city of Barcelona, this girl was a symbol of solidarity, in defence of justice and commitment to young people. Santa Eulàlia and la Mare de Déu de la Mercè are co-patron saints of Barcelona. To celebrate this festival, different activities are organized for all the family. You can’t miss the giants, the processions or the firework street run, human towers, sardanas dancing and musical bands throughout different routes of the city, apart from other activities for both young and old.
On 12th February, the Santa Eulàlia feast day, several events are held, such as raising the Penó de Santa Eulàlia (reproduction of an old banner of the city) on the balcony of City Hall, sardanas dancing, giants...
A large area, totally free of traffic, with different places to explore, most of them in the open air. That's the Poble Espanyol de Barcelona, an iconic visitor attraction in the heart of Montjuïc. Every weekend, there's a different activity: theatre, dance, music, magic, treasure hunts, etc. Throughout the year there are loads of activities to ensure you have a great day out with the family: Carnival, a Giants' Parade, a Puppet Festival, the Click and Go Fair, the Main Festival, the Medieval Fair, Christmas at the Poble, Halloween... and many more surprises!. In short, a wide range of activities for all the family.
Of all the memorable Catalan traditions, which include 'fire runs' and dancing 'giants', it's arguably the human towers that have the most impact on those watching them. To enjoy a true festival of these castells, head to Vilafranca de Penedès for its annual festa major, from the 29th August to the 2nd September, which commemorates the town's patron Sant Fèlix.
The casteller groups that have more participated in the San Félix Day, August 30, have been els Xiquets de Valls (currently, the Colla Vella and the Colla Joves), the Castellers de Vilafranca and the Minyons de Terrassa. Even so, also has participated els Nens del Vendrell, Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona, els Xicots de Vilafranca, among others. Each human tower is an exemplary example of team work, from the crowd forming the supporting pinya at the bottom via the columns formed as each level rises and culminating with the youngest members of the crew scampering right to the very top to crown the construction, which is officially completed once the smallest of all (l'enxaneta) raises his or her hand. Cue thunderous applause.
The streets of Barcelona welcome Christmas with light and colour. From November, the Christmas spirit will light up until January. The motifs of the lighting are different and varied: you will find traditional lights and also highly innovative compositions which invite you to experience and enjoy what the city is planning for these festivities.
This year's eagerly awaited Christmas lights ceremony will take place on the central Passeig de Gràcia, celebrating the bicentennial of this iconic modernist artery of the city. The event will be opened by Obskené, who will be presenting it's show "Astronòmica".
Over recent years, living nativity scenes are appearing across the whole of Catalonia, telling the Christmas story in bucolic settings in each town and using real people to depict the central figures. One of the leading examples takes place every year in Corbera de Llobregat: over 200 actors assume the roles of the people in each scene in the beautiful surroundings of the "Penya del Corb".
Carnival, a festivity based on the lunar calendar and eagerly anticipated by Catalans, always begins on a Thursday (Fat Thursday) and ends on the following Wednesday (Ash Wednesday). Carnival is synonymous with partying, bustling crowds, costumes, parades and so on. In short, it is a week given over to hedonism and having a good time being the forerunner to the period of fasting and deprivation represented by the Christian tradition of Lent.
These days, beyond the excesses, Carnival is a light-hearted popular festival based around the crazy figure named El Rei Carnestoltes (The Carnival King). While carnival is celebrated in almost every town and village throughout Catalonia, the places that historically stand out for their particular traditions are Barcelona, Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Torelló. However, wherever you may be during the festivities, you will be able to try some of the delicious traditional Carnival dishes: the coca de llardons (flatbread with pancetta) or botifarra d'ou (pork sausage containing egg).
This is one of the most keenly anticipated and widely celebrated Catalan public holidays. According to the traditional tale, Sant Jordi (Saint George) killed the dragon that used to live in Montblanc where it terrorized the local population, thus saving the king's daughter from certain death. Legend has it that a beautiful rose bush sprang up in the spot where the dragon's blood was spilled. From the 18th century onward, the Sant Jordi festival became widely identified as a Catalan 'fiesta' which these days arouses great popular, civic and cultural passion. On Sant Jordi's Day, lovers exchange a rose and a book and every town and city in Catalonia is filled with stalls set up to sell both.
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