The refrain goes: ‘St Anthony with the little pig, his day always falls on the seventeenth’, referring to 17 January, the saint's day of St Anthony the Abbot. But here in Barcelona the festival is not just for a day: it’s a festive cycle that includes the whole month of January and a series of fairly varied events centred on fire, horses, carriages and even all the devils. There is also room for traditions from Majorca, local music with the start of the Tradicionàrius Festival and every popular culture event organised by local residents at the Sant Antoni neighbourhood’s festa major.
Some of the festival’s more traditional events, such as the Tres Tombs de Barcelona and Sant Andreu de Palomar cavalcades, are held in the city for St Anthony's day side by side with other, newly created ones including the Porkada del Clot. The Tres Tombs cavalcade is one of the festival’s most popular events and is held in many other parts of the country. There is good evidence for the long history of the two events held in Barcelona: the city's version is 193 years old while the Sant Andreu de Palomar's is only century (this year marking its 91st anniversary)! On the other hand, the Porkada del Clot was created three years ago and is centred on pigs, both in their festive imagery and from the culinary perspective.
The Sant Antoni festival in Barcelona has been renewing itself over the years. One of the most successful examples of that is the Tres Tombs Infernals de Sant Andreu, an event based on the traditional St Anthony the Abbot legend and which is updated with a theatre performance that is varied every year. However, as it is an event promoted by a devils group, the Satànica de Sant Andreu, contemporary elements have also been incorporated into it, including fire works and a triple fire run, with fire beasts and devils.
Another deeply ingrained Sant Antoni event is the Foguerons de sa Pobla de Gràcia festival, which traditionally brings the cycle to a close. This tradition, which was brought over from Majorca over twenty-five years ago, has ended up becoming the old village’s unofficial winter festa major or big annual festival. Everyone can steep themselves in the spirit of Sant Anthony during this four-day festival held in sa Pobla and which has remained unaltered for centuries: night parties around bonfires, dancing, folk singing and typical Majorcan devils.
Friday 12 January
The start of the Tradicionàrius Festival rounds off the Christmas cycle and marks the start of another cycle in the city: that of the Sant Antoni festivities. Boasting thirty years’ experience, this folk festival is one of the most distinguished events of its kind in the country. This year's festival will kick off with a concert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Les Terres de l’Ebre group, Quico el Célio, el Noi i el Mut de Ferreries. Entitled ’25 anys al 4L’ it will offer a journey through their repertoire, including the most iconic songs of their career. But that’s not all: there will also be a traditional opening music procession through Vila de Gràcia’s streets, performed by the Kabum percussion group and the Guirigrall collective.
An exhibition entitled ‘Peret Blanc de Beget’ will be on display in the CAT's lobby throughout the festival. It will focus on Pere Sala (1917-1993), regarded as the last musician in the country unable to read music. Despite never having formally learnt to play the violin, Sala performed traditional melodies with great virtuosity and was capable of adapting popular songs from memory.
Location: Pl. Vila de Gràcia and Centre Artesà Tradicionàrius (CAT, Pl. Anna Frank, s/n)
Timetable: 8 pm: official opening of the exhibition - 10 pm: opening retinue at Plaça de la Vila al CAT - 10.30 pm: concert
Concert ticket price: at the booking office, €12 / in advance, €10 / Friends of the CAT, €6
The Tradicionàrius Folk Festival will continue up to 23 March. You will find a full programme on: www.tradicionarius.cat
Saturday 13 January
There are numerous versions of the St Anthony legend. One of the most original is the one that the Satànica de Sant Andreu represents with the Tres Tombs Infernals. Mixing myth, fireworks and a triple fire run, the group with over twenty-five years behind it explains how Satan tempted St Anthony with very earthly pleasures: power, drink and sex. Something that varies every year is the setting for the legend. This year's event will be set in a radio broadcaster. A show that has already become a complete classic of Sant Andreu popular culture.
This tradition, however, already presents a new feature and this year's will be the participation of the Sant Andreu festive bestiary in the fire runs representing the Tres Tombs. The group explains that they wanted to bring the Tres Tombs Infernals festival into the traditional procession, where animals are the central figures. That is what drove them to take their ‘bestaries’ to the fire run. A structure will be put up, to make the event even more spectacular, in the middle of the square where the fireworks will be launched from.
Sunday, 14 January
Horses, horse riders and every kind of carriage: barouches, berlins, tartanas, phaetons and carts etc. One of the most distinctive and traditional features of the Sant Antoni festival cycle is the Tres Tombs cavalcade. The first that is held in the city is the one from the of village of Sant Andreu de Palomar. The procession, which includes a group of lancers from the Guàrdia Urbana [city police] and a music band, goes around the route's most central streets three times and finally up to the Sant Andreu de Palomar Church. This is where another of the most typical events of Sant Antoni are held: the blessing of household pets. But note that this year's event will see a change to its traditional route owing to public works on the market!
Saturday 20 January
The city's oldest Tres Tombs cavalcade – it’s already 193 years old! – sets off at 11 am in the Sant Antoni neighbourhood, heading for Plaça de Sant Jaume. You will find dozens of horse rides and carriages of every kind and style beforehand, at the junction between C/ Calàbria and C/ Floridablanca. Come along and see them from 10.30 am on.
And you mustn’t miss this year's opening speech, which starts at 10.45 am and will be run by the Friends of the Giants of El Pi Association, as Mulassa de Barcelona [a giant mule], its festive bestiary, is celebrated its 450th anniversary.
Activities in Plaça de Sant Jaume
While the calvacade sets off in the Sant Antoni neighbourhood, Plaça de Sant Jaume will fill with activities. The La Màlaga music group will be presenting ‘Rumbeta dels Tres Tombs’ with a performance in the middle of the square at 11.30. And once the concert has ended, pieces of the famous Sant Antoni cake will be handed out to everyone until it's all finished!
Saturday, 20 January
The latest incorporation into the Sant Antoni's festival cycle is the Porkada del Clot, a festival that combines fire with food. It also puts the limelight, what is more, on the “porquet” or little pig, a lesser-known part of the St Anthony the Abbot legend. It's fours year now since the Diables del Clot has been organised and the festival centred on the Pork del Clot big head. It kicks off with a tapas route, followed by a fire run with all the figures of the popular imagination representing animals from pig family and ends with an evening of tapas prepared with pig's meat.
11 am - 2 pm: children's workshops on the work of pigs, at Plaça del Mercat del Clot
12 noon to 2 pm A Porkatapas [pork tapas] tasting session at Plaça del Mercat del Clot and the route's affiliated bars
6 pm: music parade of fireless animals by the bars making up the Porkatapes route
Route: C/ Rogent - C/ Freser - C/ Rogent - Plaça del Mercat del Clot
8.30 pm: Fire run with “fire pigs” round the local market, Mercat del Clot
Thursday, 25 January
Good and music are two excellent ways for taking a deep look at culture. And this is the aim of the first event at the Foguerons de sa Pobla a Gràcia, an evening at the Bar del CAT starting with a tasting session of Majorcan products and followed by a recital open to everyone, performed by the Glosadors de les Illes folk-singers and Carxofa Choir. This is a must-see show presented by the folk-singer Mateu Xurí, combining “sobrassada” [a Majorcan cured pork sausage] with a recital from Maribel Servera and “botifarrons” [black puddings] with folk ballads from Catalina Canyelles!
Tribute will be paid to the musician and gourmet Pere Tàpias, who died last year and had traditionally presented this event.
Friday, 26 January
This photography exhibition is part of the private collection of Toni Torrens, the driving force behind this Majorcan festival in the Gràcia neighbourhood which has been held for over twenty-five years. A documentary made last year to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Foguerons de sa Pobla a Gràcia can now be seen for the first time. It features images of all the special activities that were held, including the parade of Gràcia a sa Pobla’s festival groups. The evening will be rounded off with a talk on the rise of newly created communal festivals in Majorca. It will be presented by Marcel Pich, who will be analysing this phenomenon which mixes present day tradition and time.
‘May traditional local music stay alive and never linger as a museum item.’ This was the brainchild of Toni Roig, a founding member of the local music group, Al-Mayurqa. And now that ten years have passed since his death, Biel Majoral, current members of the Al-Mayurqa group, Pont d’Arcalís and Xavier de Bétera have prepared the show ‘Ball Roig’ to pay tribute to the man. A selection of Majorcan, Valencian and Catalan musicians brought together on stage to show the wealth of music and dancing from the Catalan-speaking territories. Before the concert, however, you will also have an opportunity to learn how to dance the typical dances of the Pyrenees and, above all, the “ball de bot”, traditional dancing from the Balearic islands. What is more, the master class will be given by Maria Dolors Rodríguez, one of the longest-standing members of Al-Mayurqa.
Saturday 27 January
Can you imagine yourselves going shopping at the market one Saturday morning and coming across the traditional sounds of Majorca? Well, that's “Folk als Mercats” [Folk comes to Markets], a local-music concert programme being held in four markets in the district of Gràcia. The shawm group Xeremiers and the Glosadors de Mallorca will be filling the crowd at the market with rhythm and folk music, to mark the Foguerons festival.
The varied imagery taking part in the Sant Antoni de sa Pobla festivities notable includes the ‘Caparrots Minyons’, children “big heads”. Maria Cristina Jorquera and Francesca M. Mir have just published an illustrated tale called ‘22 minyons’, which they will be presenting in Barcelona (12 noon). This will be immediately followed by a traditional session of ‘Teresetes’, traditional Majorcan puppets. This time it will be the Teresetes Paradís company that will be performing the children’s tale ‘Es Jai de sa Barraqueta’ (12.30 noon)
Gràcia popular-culture groups and the sa Pablo's groups will gather together at 7.30 pm at Plaza de la Vila, where they will perform step-dancing. This is an event not to be missed: you will traditional Majorcan devils dancing side by side with Gràcia fire beasts. And all that seasoned with the Xeremiers de Mallorca (who will have gathered in La Violeta at 7 pm) playing music a there, accompanied by La Miradors with their flabiol flutes and bagpipes.
The dancing will be followed by Gràcia popular culture groups and sa Pablo's groups, who will be taking part in a festive parade, setting off from Plaza de la Vila and finishing at Plaza de la Virreina, the setting of twelve of the festival’s bonfires. Taking part will be the Xeremiers de Mallorca, La Miradors, the Trabucaires de Gràcia [period-costume, blunderbuss-wielding groups], the Geganters de Gràcia [giant figures], Bastoners de Gràcia [stick dancers], Bastoners de Barcelona, Tamborers d’Albopàs, Dimonis d’Albopàs [devils], Geganters de sa Pobla, Dimonis de sa Pobla, accompanied by Sant Antoni, the Malsons de la Vella group, the Atzeries de la Vella, the Vella de Gràcia devils, the group Kabum, the Diabòlica de Gràcia, the Escuats de la Malèfica del Coll, Malèfica del Coll, the dragon Gaudiamus and the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia [human-tower makers]. Come and walk along Gràcia streets with Majorcan and Barcelonian groups!
Bonfire lighting signals the start to evening festival, one of the most popular and crowd-drawing events of the festival. Meat will be roasted around the fire and songs will be sung and traditional dancing performed. This year's event will include a dozen distributed around Gràcia’s streets and squares. Plaza del Diamant will be playing host to the Festa de sa Ximbomba, featuring folk singing, songs and shawms starting at 9.30 pm. And there will be an evening part at the same time at Plaza de la Virreina, offering sa Pobla ximbombes [friction drumming] and folk singers, followed by a dance performed by the groups Estol de Tramuntana de Sóller and Sa Revetla de Sant Antoni de Palma (11 pm).
Do not miss this show, which brings together all the posters used by announcing the festival throughout 25 years!
Roundtable about parties in Catalonia where animals are the protagonists.