Festa Major means Major Festivity and it is the local yearly celebration of each town and city. ‘Festa Major’ is a synonym of tradition, celebration, music and happiness. The Major Festivity of each town coincides with the date of its Patron Saint Day and most of them take place in summer. Every town or village have their particular celebrations but there are some traditional events and activities that are common to all of them. Attending a Festa Major is immersing oneself into the traditional Catalan culture.
There is no Festa Major without a Pregó, which means ‘announcement’ and it is the opening ceremony of the festivities. From the town hall balcony, a local celebrity or personality announces the beginning of the celebrations in an apparent formal and solemn speech, actually full of irony and humor.
Giants are big figures made of wood representing a male and a female resembling medieval Kings and Queens. The giants are carried by usually a strong man that lifts them from the inside, holds them up and makes them walk and dance. The Giants are accompanied by the Dwarfs, huge heads made of hard cardboard that dance and walk along with the giants.
Castellers are also present in the Festa Major event. Not in every town, though, because not all towns have a Human Tower group, but in big towns or cities there will surely be a Castellers performance. Watching how the human tower is built with one person on top of another, sometimes resulting in very high towers, it is a really breathtaking show. Usually, the Towers are built in the Plaça Major, the main square of the town, where the Town Hall is located. The Castellers build the tower and the one on top reaches the height of the Town Hall balcony and waves at the mayor and other local authorities.
Fire is an element present in our culture and in most of our celebrations. In almost every town, there is the Colla de Diables (Demons Band) and they are the ones who carry-out the Fire Parade in the Festa Major. Dressed as Demons and carrying firecrackers, they walk and dance to the drums music through the narrow streets of the village and people mingles with them dancing under the fire.
Probably one of the most popular events, the ball was traditionally an open-air ball with a live orchestra where boys and girls used to dance together for the only time of the year. Nowadays, the classical ball still remains in some villages, but the audience is, let’s say, more adult. Pop and rock live concerts are the night events for the youngsters. In bigger cities, famous national bands have their summer gigs in Festes Majors and they tour the country from town to town.
Fireworks mark the closing ceremony of the festivities with an exhibition of fire and color, with three loud and strong ending firecrackers. The Major Festivities -a week of tradition and celebration, have come to an end and say goodbye until next year. Anyway another Major Festivity it is probably about to start in the neighboring town, so the party can go on all the summer long!
You can check the calendar of local festivities in Catalonia here!