The Colors of Catalonia         
 In the footsteps of 20th-century artists    
 by Virginie Raguenaud
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What are we celebrating this month?


September 11th – Diada de Catalunya - National Day 
The day commemorates the soldiers who defended (unsuccessfully) the capital of Catalonia against the French-Castillian army of Philip V of Spain in the 1714 Siege of Barcelona. Today, supporters of Catalonia separatism gather on this day at the burial monuments of the heroes of the War of Spanish Succession, Rafael Casanova and General Moragues.


November 1st – Tots Sants – All Saints’ Day
The tradition on All Saints’ Day is to remember and honor friends and family who have passed away, which usually involves visiting their gravesite to clean it and leave flowers. People serve panellets as the traditional dessert.    


December 25th – Nadal - Christmas

December 26th – Sant Esteve - Saint Stephen's Day
Families gather around the table and serve canelones made with the leftover meat from Christmas folded in a thin sheet of pasta with delicious leeks and onions.  

December 31st – Revellón – New Year’s Eve


January 6th – Reis Mags – The Three Kings or The Ephiphany 

January 20th and 21st – Pelegrí de Tossa de Mar


Carnestoltes – Carnival 
Carnival is a huge colorful celebration all around Catalonia with wild costumes and all-night dancing. In the sea-side village of Sitges, known as the gay capital of Catalonia, the party brings together more than 300,000 people. It begins with the arrival of the King and, since 2007, also presents to much applause the Drag Queen of Carnival!  


March 19th – Sant Josep 
Many Catalans are named after a Roman Catholic saint or a figure from the Bible, and they celebrate their “name day” with as much enthusiasm as their birthdays. There are many Catalans named Josep, which means this is a popular name day celebration. 


April 23rd – Sant Jordi
Catalans celebrate their patron Saint George with a beautiful tradition - Men offer women a red rose, and women in return offer them a book. Book fairs are set up all around Catalonia, and the day has now grown into a celebration of reading.  


End of May/Beginning of June - Corpus Christi 
In Berga, they celebrate “La Patum” with a colorful parade with a dragon and giant heads. Everyone gathers on the main square to watch and participate in dancing and singing. 
In Sitges, millions of flowers are laid to create beautiful tapestries that cover entire streets, which are closed to traffic for 24 hrs. 

May 26th and 27th - Festival of Cherries - Céret
The two-day festival celebrates the harvest, the earliest in the country. The tradition is to sent the first cherry pick to the President in Paris. The festival includes dancing, family games, and baskets of delicious juicy cherries! 


June 24th – Saint John’s Day or la Fête de Saint Jean
But the real celebration starts on June 23rd with the Revetlla de Sant Joan – or the eve of Saint John’s Day. As a show of unity, French Catalonians carry a flame from Perpignan up the Canigou and pass it to Spanish Catalonians who carry it down the mountain. Catalans celebrate the summer’s solstice by gathering around bonfires lit in every village, drinking a delicious sparkling white wine called cava, and eating slices of coca, a cake decorated with candied cherries, oranges, apples, and pine nuts. Villagers dance the sardana and enjoy firework displays, continuing the party on the beach through the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, the 24th is a public holiday.  

June 24th – Castellers 
One of the most jaw-dropping competitions in Catalonia is the incredible human castle (or castells) created by teams of men who stand on each other’s shoulders to build layers as high as possible. A ten-level tower is the highest on record. Famous in the Tarragona region of Spanish Catalonia, the Castellers hold a competition in Valls on June 24th – but the human towers can been seen in town fairs at different times throughout the year.  

June 30th to July 3rd - Fête de la Saint Pierre - the patron saint of fishermen - Port-Vendres
The market is open all day and into the evening. There are nautical games by the pier, children’s games throughout the day, traditional Catalan dancing, and fireworks.


First Sunday in July – Cantada d’Havaneres
Villagers gather on the beach or in the town’s square to sing traditional maritime havaneres. To warm up the vocal chords, singers often start the festivities with a cup of cremat, or coffee and rum. 

July - Sardana Competition Festival - Céret
The competition brings teams from all over Catalonia to compete in front of a packed arena.

July 26 - August 13th - Casals Music Festival – Prades, French Catalonia
This year the classical music concerts will be played in the Church of Saint Pierre in Prades, the churches of Molitg, Villefranche-de-Conflent, and Mantet, the beautiful Abbey of Saint Michel de Cuxa, and the Abbey Saint-Martin du Canigou. Check for details. 

July 24th – 26th – Santa Cristina - Lloret de Mar 
The Santa Cristina maritime procession begins with mass at the Hermitage of Santa Cristina followed by a dramatic carrying onto shore of the statue of the Virgin Mary aboard a flotilla decorated with flowers. During the three-day festival there is dancing in town, a boat race known as “S’Amorra amorra” and fireworks on the last night.  


August 15th – Fêtes de Saint Vincent – Collioure
To celebrate Collioure’s patron Saint, the town organizes nautical games, concerts, and sardana dances throughout the day. The celebrations end with a ball on the square “Place du 18 Juin.” Find more details at

Mid-August – Festa Major de Vilafranca del Penedès
The town festival honors Saint Felix and centers around a vast array of traditional dances, a parade of giants and talented human-castle builders, or castellers, competing to create the highest human tower. 

The Canigou Mountain 
The Pedraforca Mountain (Eduard Maluquet)