Summer is here and the long, sunny days are perfect for getting out and about and exploring the rich culture on Barcelona’s doorstep. As the city’s residents look for cooler climes by the beach or inland, the region’s towns come alive with music and traditional festivities.
JULY FOR MUSIC FESTIVALS
During July, live music fills parks, castle courtyards, gardens, museums and squares. With performances by leading national and international artists, you can while away your evenings with a glass of wine in hand to melodies from every period and style imaginable.
For lovers of classical music, the Pyrenees Early Music Festival is held in a selection of unusual venues, including churches, archaeology sites, cloisters and natural settings. The Classical Music Festival in Santa Florentina offers a carefully-chosen programme featuring some of today’s leading artists. And, choirs and chamber musicians will be gathering around the organ of Montserrat to offer a wonderful repertoire of classical and contemporary music at the Montserrat International Organ Music Festival.
If jazz is more your thing, make space in your diary for the Vijazz Penedès event in Vilafranca del Penedès, where wine and cava are paired with top international jazz. Fans of the Arenys Big Band shouldn’t miss their performance at the Arenys de Mar Jazz Festival—a festival that remains as committed as ever to up-and-coming Catalan groups.
Rock fans should head to CanetRock for an unforgettable 12 hours of uninterrupted partying from dusk to dawn, courtesy of the best groups on the Catalan scene. In the Vallès area the Embassa’t festival offers small-format gigs by some of the most exciting up-and-coming bands on the scene. VIDA—the International Festival of Vilanova i la Geltrú—takes place in a spectacular beach and woodland setting and brings together leading local and international artists.
Ajuntament de Canet de Mar
AUGUST FOR LOCAL TRADITIONS
Catalunya is passionate about protecting and celebrating its festivals and traditions. Towns pay homage to their patron saints and come alive with colourful street parades, papier mâché giants (gegants) and ‘big head’ figures (capgrossos), bandits carrying blunderbuss guns (trabucaires), music, dancing, groups of people dressed as devils who set off fireworks (diables) and spectacular human towers (castellers).
If you’re planning to spend August in or near Barcelona, here’s a small taster of what you’ll find: the Festival and Day of Sant Fèlix in Vilafranca del Penedès, which encapsulates what these festivals are all about—don’t miss the amazing human tower in Plaça de la Vila. The Festival of Vilanova i la Geltrú, in honour of Mare de Déu de les Neus (Our Lady of the Snows), features traditional dancing and the launch of 12 loud rocket fireworks (mortarets). In the Festival of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla, in Sitges—declared a festival of national interest—you can enjoy the spectacular fireworks display, the entry of musicians, known as grallers, playing the gralla, a traditional Catalan instrument with a strident sound, and the traditional moixiganga where the Stations of the Cross are performed as a folk dance in parades.
Over in Igualada, they’ll be celebrating their town festival in style, with plenty of dancing, special feasts and local traditions. Manresa, capital of the county of Bages, also celebrates its annual festival at the end of August, marking the end of the summer holidays. Don’t miss the opening speech (pregó), the street parade (cercavila), featuring the gegants and papier maché dwarf figures (nans). Other highlights are the street parade (correfoc) with groups of people dressed as devils lighting fireworks, and the firecracker display (tronada) in the Plaça Major. Taradell, in the county of Osona, puts a fun spin on things as it celebrates the traditional Toca-sons Festival, as part of its main festival. In the opening speech, the chief constable and his militiamen inform the townsfolk that Toca-sons and his gang of bandits are wandering around the outskirts of town. Finally, the Festival of Granollers is well known for the good-natured rivalry between two groups, the whites and the blues, who vie with each other to whip up the best festive atmosphere. Are you brave enough to predict this year’s winner?
Diputació de Barcelona
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