In just one small corner of Catalonia, you can find a variety of local festivals based on the resources and history of the area, which are perfect for families and couples alike.
Almost every town and village in Spain has its festival and the North East region of Catalonia is no exception. My town of Palafrugell holds a Spring Festa six weeks after Easter, which is similar to the Carnaval held in other towns in February, with floats and plenty of dancing and above all, noise.
Some of these festivals have become so popular over recent years that they can hardly be called “small and local” any more.
Small & local
Barcelona, Girona and other larger towns in Catalonia hold festivals of one sort or another throughout the year, but perhaps the most fun are the very local ones, held over a weekend where most of the participants are local people celebrating – for anything from a religious day to apples, rice, or wine and cheese.
Some of these festivals have become so popular over recent years that they can hardly be called “small and local” any more. That doesn’t mean they are not enjoyable, of course, but the really authentic, little village celebrations are the ones that give a greater sense of local community spirit – and perhaps show off dying local crafts.
Where can I find them?
Just a stone’s throw from Palafrugell, there are some delightful local festivals to visit. The fabulous three local beaches of Calella, LLafranc and Tamariù offer plenty of events throughout the summer; these are definitely tourist orientated,which doesn’t mean they are not worth attending, but they are large and professionally organised.
Slightly inland, you come across the very small medieval village of Mont Ras – almost a suburb of Palafrugell these days – but not so long ago, this was a tiny enclave in its own right. Here there are two local festivals, both worth a detour. One is held around Christmas time, when they open to the public the most beautiful hand crafted pessebres (miniature nativities) made over decades with precision by local people. The other is held at the end of May and is the fira de corpus, when the village becomes a medieval market, and the streets leading to the church at the top are decorated with “flower carpets”, beautiful designs fashioned from the petals of flowers, local stones and other natural materials. These are designed by a local artist, Umei Tellers, who leads a group of volunteers from 6.30am. It takes several hours to produce these lovely floral pictures and they must be ready for the opening of the festa, so there is a lot of hard work put in by the local people.
Dedicated to ancient crafts
The equally small village of Llofriu which lies to the north of Palafrugell has a wonderful festival on the third weekend of August. This is a festival dedicated to the ancient art of stripping cork trees – cork products were until the mid 1970s a major industry in the region and there is wonderful Cork Museum located in an old cork factory in the centre of Palafrugell.
At the end of May is the fira de corpus, when the village becomes a medieval market.
If you go to the Festa de la pela del suro in Llofriu you will find other activities related to the preservation and conservation of woodlands and different old crafts. It is a festival for all the family and many of the events are organised for children. Of course at all these festas there will be a bar and food on offer.
Havaneras in Catalan are sea shanties, based on the rhythm of the Cuban contradanza. These were sung by Catalan and Spanish men when they made their way back from Cuba and the Americas, where they had gone in search of work and fortune in the late 18th Century. The songs were adopted by the Spanish and are nowadays a very popular type of music, celebrated all over the country.
During the summer months, the town of Palafrugell and its three beach villages celebrate Havaneras (the name comes from the Cuban capital of Havana (L’Havana in Catalan and La Habana in Spanish)). These are not small local events, though of course many locals are involved, especially the groups and singers who sing these melodic songs. There is nothing better than sitting by the seashore listening to the sound of the harmonies under a starlit sky on a summer’s evening. You should try to go to one of the concerts if you are within a reasonable distance.