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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.
Quinzena Metropolitana the dance festival which will display all styles and genres to a potential audience of 5 million people. The festival will take place all over the metropolitan area of Barcelona, covering the municipalities of Barcelona, Badalona, Santa Coloma, L'Hospitalet, Cornellà, Espluges and others. Programmed in theaters, but also in streets, squares and subway stations, dance at its finest now has a festival that includes classic and contemporary dance, hip hop, jazz, traditional dance and any other style.
The European Balloon Festival in Igualada is the biggest gathering of hot air balloons in Spain and welcomes around 25,000 visitors over four days the first fortnight of July. It's a meeting point, a competition and a festival in one, with more than 50 balloons taking to the air. Competitive flights take place early in the morning and at dusk, when conditions are ideal, and if you want a taste of the high life, balloon rides can be booked in advance. Fly among a mass of Balloons from several counties of the world.
But there's plenty to enjoy from ground level, whether it's the different skill challenges in the competition, live music, kids' activities and workshops, or the magical Night Glow event, in which balloons are fired up but don't take off, glowing like lanterns and accompanied by a fireworks display.
The Patum de Berga is a truly ancient traditional festival. It is cultural phenomenon that grew out of the theatrical performances that used to accompany the Corpus Christi processions in the Middle Ages. The event is focused on fire, music and a series of symbolic characters. These days, the Patum is as vibrant as ever; to the point it has been declared an event of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. A small square in Berga, not far from Barcelona, concentrates all of the the energy, passion and magic of an unmissable festival.
Wine and jazz go hand-in-hand at the festival that sublimates both pleasures by pairing wine-tastings with concerts in Vilafranca, the heart of the Penedès region. ViJazz Penedès, which has been going for more than 10 years, features free concerts and the chance to sample more than 300 wines and cavas produced by forty of the Penedès region's best wineries at the wine and cava fair. This year also includes a gastronomic area, with the presence of restaurants in the area, where quality tapas will be offered specifically designed to be accompanied by wines and cavas from the Penedès.
A new physical and mental challenge will take place on 3rd October in Calella. IRONMAN Barcelona is a competition with 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling and 42.2 km on foot in which 3400 athletes from over 80 countries will compete to reach the finish line. With routes along the Maresme Coast, IRONMAN Barcelona includes two further races: IRONKIDS for the youngest among us and IRONGIRL which seeks to boost the participation of women in sports.
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).
In 2021, the region will be hosting the 100th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. After a year without this major cycling event due to COVID19, the special 2021 edition will show how deeply rooted this sport is in our region. To mark the occasion, top riders from around the world will come and take part in the different stages in the four provinces of Catalonia. These will include mountain passes that are only suitable for top-level cyclists.
Vilanova i la Geltrú's Vida Festival has consolidated itself as one of the most famous indie music events in the whole of Spain. In an incomparable setting, national and international stars are inexorably drawn to one of summer's most complete festivals. This year's highlights include performances from bands such as Vetusta Morla, Parcels, Belle & Sebastian, Stay Homas, Alt-J o El Petit de Cal Eril, to name but a few.
Visit the city's Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, neoclassical and modernista heritage; a lovely walk, after which you can recharge your batteries by eating some excellent snails.
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