Pa! Tum! The sound in two steps of an old drum gives name and announces the beginning of one of the oldest and most popular festivities in Catalonia: La Patum de Berga (Berga’s Patum), which was declared Oral and Immaterial Heritage of Mankind by the UNESCO in 2005. Tradition, dances, music and fire are the main ingredients of a festivity that is held during the week of Corpus Christi and has its origins in the Middle Ages, in the performances that were enacted during the Corpus processions. These performances took place in many towns and villages but only in Berga they have been preserved intact through the centuries.
Berga is a small town in Central Catalonia surrounded by mountains with a population of about 16.000 people, a peaceful and quite place that receives around 100.000 visitors and bursts into flames during the boisterous festivity of La Patum. La Patum is a series of traditional parades and performances of different groups and characters that are joined in by thousands of people in the streets and squares of Berga. Some performances are to be seen but in the most popular ones, the audience actively participates accompanying the characters and blending in with them.
The Full Patum is composed by the performances of 10 different groups: the Tabal, an old drum present in all the parades, the dances of the Giants, the Old and New Dwarfs, the Turks and Horses, the Angels, the Demons, the Dragons, the Eagle and the Fire Demons. Each of them is accompanied by its traditional songs performed live by the orchestra. When hearing the first musical sound, people immediately identifies them and joins them singing and dancing. Among all the performances, though, there is one that clearly stands out and has become the symbol and the main attraction of the celebration: the Salt de Plens (the Fire Demons performance).
Salt de Plens
One of the protagonist of La Patum is, undoubtedly, the fire. During the entire festivity, 5.328 firecrackers and 500 flares are used. The climax of the festival is the Salt de Plens (Fire Demons), who set the square on fire with hundreds of firecrackers burning at the same time. People blend in with the demons and dance with them in the Sant Pere square, which seems to double its size to house more than 6000 people in only 1.010 m². It is a truly spectacular performance, the grand finale of the festival.
La Patum is a unique, spectacular celebration to be seen and lived, full of emotions not to be missed if you are in Barcelona during Corpus. Berga is only one hour away from Barcelona and in 2015 Patum will be held on the first week of June. The Full Patum performances will take place on Thursday 4th and Sunday 7th. Do not miss the opportunity to live a celebration with more than 500 years of history, which is one of the two World Heritage festivities in Spain!