The Begur Experience

Begur Costa Brava what to do and where to go.

Festivals

Placa Major of Olot at twon festival 2008 (07....
The ten Spanish National Public Holidays are supplemented by five Catalonian Regional Holidays. In addition, towns around Catalonia and the Costa Brava coast celebrate their own Festivals.Please note: Dates are subject to change as they are linked to religious dates- check with the appropriate Tourist Office (web addresses are given where possible)

January 1st Any Nou (New Year’s Day): National Holiday
January 6th Reis (Epiphany): On the eve of epiphany, the three Kings give sweets to the local children. Their method of arrival reflects the nature of the Town or Village. In Roses, for example, which has a thriving fishing industry, the Kings arrive by boat. The day is celebrated throughout Catalonia. Roses Tourist Office: 0034 972 257331. Email otroses@ddgi.es
February / March Carnestoltes (Lent): From the eve of Lent, and lasting several days, there are processions of floatsFancy dress abounds and Adults & children in fancy dress. Local residents can fully participate and enjoy this Carnival, especially in the tourists resorts where they usually have to sacrifice involvement as they are then pampering the visitors. During the Roses Carnestoltes, huge paellas are cooked on the beach and served with local wines. The carnival culminates on Ash Wednesday, when a sardine is ceremoniously buried in the sand on the beach as an offering to the sea. Roses Tourist Office: +34 972 257331. Email otroses@ddgi.es
Easter Divendres Sant & Dilluns de Pascua (Good Friday & Easter Monday): Palm leaves are blessed in the churches, Crosses are carried through streets and Passion Plays are performed. Godparents buy their Godchildren egg cake and local bakers compete to make the fanciest confectionery. The are processions of Roman soldiers in Gerona. On Easter Monday, men dressed as skeletons perform death dances in Verges.Verges Tourist Office: +34 972 78 00 07. Email:verges@ddgi.es
April 23rd Feast of St George (also Patron Saint of Catalonia): Mothers and wives give their sons and husbands books – in return they receive a single red rose.
May 1st Festa de Treball (Labour Day): National Holiday
May / June Corpus Christi: In Roses, flower petals and coloured sands are laid in the streets to make intricate pictures and patterns. In Berga (near Barcelona) a monster dragon dances through the streets.Berga Tourist Office: ajberga.es
June 24th Sant Joan celebrationsSant Joan (St John’s Day – Midsummer’s eve): Spectacular fireworks displays take place throughout Catalunya (in Roses, this usually takes place on the main beach at 22:00hrs). There are also countless private fireworks parties, on the beaches, terraces and streets, with local children joining in by lighting firecrackers. The cacophony of noise continues into the small hours. Special Coca (cake) is eaten and traditionally washed down with cava. In Blanes, the world-famous week-long International Fireworks Competition takes place.Blanes Tourist Office: +34 972 33 03 48. Email: otblanes@ddgi.es
July In the last two weeks of the month, Roses holds it’s Music Festival with famous Jazz and Classical musicians performing at various venues throughout the town. Roses Tourist Office: +34 972 257331. Email otroses@ddgi.es
July 24th Santa Cristina: Lloret de Mar’s major festival takes place during which a statue of the Virgin Mary is brought ashore by an ornately decorated flotilla. Lloret de Mar Tourist Office: +34 972 36 47 35. www.Lloret.org
Mid-August Festa Major de Vilafranca del Penedes (Barcelona): Each district hosts it’s own Festival, each trying to outdo the others with it’s Street decorations and events. The old district of Gracia is usually the most spectacular, incorporating concerts, street games and competitions. Barcelona Tourist Office: BarcelonaTurisme.com
Mid-August CastellerFesta Major de Vilafranca del Penedes (Vilafranca): The festival concentrates on Human Tower (Casteller) competitions, where teams compete to build the highest tower (completed when a small boy called anxaneta – weathercock – climbs to the top and raises his hands to form a crucifix). There are various categories, depending on the number or men forming the base level. Vilafranca Tourist Office: ajvilafranca.es
August 25th Assumpció (Assumption Day)
September 11th Catalan flagDiada de Catalunya (Catalonia National Day): Sardana Dancing and Red & Yellow Catalan flags hanging everywhere! Marks the day in 1714 when Catalonia lost it’s independence with the fall of Barcelona to Felipe V. Catalan separatist demonstrations take place.
October 12th Dia de la Hispanitat: National holiday to celebrate the return of Columbus to Barcelona after discovering America
November 1st Tots Sants (All Saints Day): The traditional meal of roast chestnuts and sweet potatoes is eaten.
November 2nd Dia dels Difunts (All Souls Day):
December 25th Nadal (Christmas Day): Traditional Catalan Christmas lunch is meat stew followed by turkey stuffed with apples, prunes, apricots, raisins and pine nuts.
December 26th Sant Esteve (Boxing Day): A major time for families and friends to meet together.
December 31st Revellón (News Years Eve): For each of the twelve chimes of the New Year, people attempt to eat one grape. A year of good fortune is bestowed on everyone accomplishing this feat. Easy? Try it!
At many festivals, you will see circles of people dancing the Sardana, Catalunya´s national dance, and one which resembles no other Spanish dance. Its origins are thought to lie in the graceful dances of ancient Greece (which you can still see depicted on antique pottery in museums throughout the Mediterranean).One theory is that the Greeks introduced the dance during the period in which they maintained trading posts on Catalunya´s northern shores thousands of years ago. Others insist that the Sardana was not practiced here until the fifteenth-century Catalan occupation of Sardinia, hence the name. In any case, the Sardana in its present form emerged during the Renaixença (the 19C. Catalan renaissance) and had become so much a symbol of national identity that it was banned during the Franco period. Sardana dancers link hands with raised arms, forming circles which grow bigger and bigger as more people join in.Traditionally, couples can join in at any point, but cannot cut in between a man and his partner on the right. When the circle gets too big, the dancers form more circles. One of the main features of the dance is its spontaneity – for instance, except on special occasions, dancers wear everyday clothes, (although the lace-up espadrille shoe is a perennial favorite for its pliability and comfort). People of all ages and ranks in life join hands and dance as if to emphasize that whatever their differences, they are first and foremost Catalans.The spirit of unity generated by the Sardana is truly impressive. An extremely disciplined dance, the Sardana calls for exact movements and expert timing, provided by a leader in each circle. For this reason, unless you think you’ve really got the knack, it’s generally inadvisable for visitors to join in – one wrong move can put the entire circle out of step. Along with the Sardana, there are numerous other traditional dances specific to different towns or regions, often performed in local costume and evoking formative episodes of the area´s mythologies.

The Cobla is the band which provides the highly unusual music for the dancing of Sardanas and the building of Castells. It consists of eleven players, and is made up of woodwind and brass, together with double bass. The shrill oboe-like tenora long ago replaced the bagpipe as the leading instrument. The music is lyrical, somewhat repetitive, and fun; sounding like an odd mix of Bavarian Um-pah-pah and Middle Eastern music. The most celebrated Cobla band, and the official band of the Generalitat, is La Principal from la Bisbal.

Visit the Catalunya Turisme website for more festivals and dates of this year’s event.

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