The Saint Roch festival kicks off

The 424th edition of the oldest festival in the city, with its peculiar traditions for all ages, takes place in the Gothic district up until the 18th of August

Since 1589, the Ciutat Vella district has celebrated, without interruption, its Annual Festival, or Fiesta Mayor, which takes place on the 16th of August, coinciding with the festival of Saint Roch, or Rocco. From the 14th to the 18th, the Plaça Nova and others parts of the Gothic district will play host to the oldest traditional festivities in the city of Barcelona.

The traditional street parade, with the capgròs (a figure with a large papier maché head) seated on a donkey, will take place on Wednesday the 14th through the streets of the district and, a little while later, the Saint Roch festival will see its official inauguration with the hoisting of the corresponding heraldic flag.

Aside from the musical performances (the ‘gralla’ band La Pessigolla, ‘habaneras’ by Atotavela and Noche de Rumba), dances (the Saint Roch giants, sardanas and the Annual Festival dance), children’s activities, games and crafts fair that take place daily in the Plaça Nova, the celebrations include a series of characteristic activities that are peculiar to this festival. The large ‘cucaña, or greasy pole, for children, which was incorporated in 1884 with the additional difficulty of the pole being rotated, the ‘tragos de porrón largo’, where festival goers drink from a gigantic pitcher with a 55 cm spout, the dog’s festival, on Saturday the 17th, or Captain Munyon’s balloon ride, a giant paper balloon that is painted with an image of the person chosen as the most antagonistic of the moment and is inflated by the local children.

On Friday the 16th, the festival day itself, the Gran Traca (fire-crackers) precedes the Seguicio de San Roc parade, which combines all the symbolism, characters and entities involved in the festivities as far as the Basilica de Santa María de Pi, where a ceremony is held. The festival ends on Sunday the 18th with the correfoc (fire-breathing devils) of the Diablos del Barrio Gótico and the Víbria de Barcelona.

 

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Publication date: Wednesday, 14 August 2013
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