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La Castanyada is a traditional festival that is deeply rooted in Catalonia and celebrated on 1st November, All Saint's Day. People eat chestnuts – castanyes in Catalan –, panellets - small balls of almond paste coated in pine nuts –, sweet potatoes and other autumnal produce. You can make panellets at home or buy them in the pastry shops and bakeries of Barcelona.
This public holiday is celebrated with family, friends and even in schools. It is often accompanied by chestnuts and panellets (traditional marzipan cookies) served with sweet dessert wine. Around the time of this celebration, specialist vendors take to the streets to sell their hot freshly-roasted chestnuts.
The Castanyada (Chestnut Festival) and All Saints Day indicate that summer is over and that colder weather is on the way.
Every March, the children of Barcelona enjoy one of the "sweetest" festivals of the city. The streets and squares of the charming district of Gràcia become a festival of sweets, bands and horse carriages. This is the Sant Medir Festival and according to tradition originates from the Saint who lived in the year 303 in Barcelona under the Roman rule of Diocletian, who intensely persecuted Christians. According to legend, Sant Medir's beans grew immediately after they were planted and for this he was taken prisoner. A hermitage was built where the Saint lived to mark the starting point of the pilgrimage. In 1830, a baker from the district of Gràcia made a pilgrimage to the hermitage on his Saint's Day to thank the Saint for a honoured promise. Today, this pilgrimage has become a popular tradition with the participation of "colles" from the districts of Gràcia, Sarrià and Sants. Each year, on 3rd March, the pilgrims parade all day through the streets of Gràcia and in the afternoon a spectacular parade is held on the Gran de Gràcia street, handing out sweets to all participants.
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...
During the weekend of 10th, 11th and 12th February, there is an extensive programme for both young and old to commemorate this festival.
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.
Dates not yet confirmed.The grape harvest festival is the period during which the tradition of wine producing is celebrated. During the weeks of the harvest, you can find out all about the vineyards, wineries and their wines throughout the various wine production regions of Catalonia. These celebrations give rise to a variety of activities: guided visits of the wineries, getting to know about and taking part in the wine-making process, wine and cava tastings combined with the sampling of delicious locally produced food and other activities. In addition to wine- and food-related activities, you can also enjoy complementary leisure pursuits suitable for any age group or profile.
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.
In the days leading up to Easter, Catalonia's patisseries always put on a delicious and original shop window display: cakes and figures made of chocolate, some in such complex detail that they could be easily be termed works of art. This typically Catalan and Valencian tradition is known as the "Mona de Pascua" (the Easter 'Mona'). Mona is the Spanish word for female monkey but, in this context, the term derives from the Arabic word "munna", which loosely means "a treat for your mouth", a gift in the form of a sweet confection that the Moors would give to their overlords to celebrate the end of Lent. Catholic tradition involves godfathers giving the 'mona' to their godchildren on Easter Sunday, although the correct day to enjoy them is on Easter Monday, which is a public holiday in Catalonia, when families come together to eat the 'mona' as their dessert.
The areas of the Pre-Pyrenees and the Pyrenees hold a festival of fire in summer which has been declared as intangible UNESCO cultural Heritage. It involves local people descending with large burning torches (fallas) from the top of the mountain to the village at nightfall. A tradition with rural origins, this ritual is associated with the purification of the fields and woods in order to protect them from evil spirits. This festival has become a magic and light-filled event with mystical connotations featuring a primal light procession. The handmade torches are prepared by people in the village and some can weigh as much as 20 kilograms. Two towns in the area also celebrate this festival on Christmas Eve: Bagà and Sant Julià de Cerdanyola, and on this occasion the tradition is called "Fia-Faia".
One of the most famous events in the city's main festival, the Festes de la Mercè, is undoubtedly the race that bears its name. This competition is notable because it is one of the first to have been organized for charity. Although it has a festive character, it is also competitive for everyone who takes part in it, and since 2010 it has been part of the BCN 10km Challenge.
Come and run for a good cause!
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