Although you will find festivals throughout the whole of Spain throughout the whole of the year, nowhere does festivals bigger, better or louder than Catalonia. Everyone loves a party but no one loves a party more than Catalonians. Consequently, the Costa Brava is rightfully regarded as the Festival Capital of Spain.
Naturally, the high season for festivals is in the summer but, whatever time of the year you visit, you are almost to catch at least one. And if you’re serious about embracing the local culture, you should put on your party clothes and join in the fun.
Festivals come in a range of sizes and shapes. Some are huge and internationally acclaimed while others are far more parochial. Frequently they have a religious dimension and celebrate a saint’s day but the holy aspect of the event is usually drowned by the din. Frankly, any excuse for a party is seized upon and often the origins of the celebration are lost in the mists of history.
The venues are some of the Costa Brava’s most idyllic and emblematic spaces such as villages, castles, botanical gardens, archaeological sites and historical monuments. Even a beach will be considered suitable for a spot of revelry.
Possibly the most popular are the music festivals, which cover all tastes from classical, opera, pop, jazz and one which you might well have never heard of, havaneras, which are songs sung by fisherman and could loosely be described as sea shanties. Immensely popular, the Havaneras Festival staged in September on the beach of the Port of Soller, attracts a crowd of around 10,000.
Theatre and the performing arts such as dance, clowning and puppetry are also hugely popular and fill the streets with acrobats, magicians, circus acts and a range of entertainers.
Fireworks are another popular ingredient and spectacular displays frequently light up the night sky and wake up anyone attempting to sleep through the festival.
One of the biggest and most notable is the Cap Roig Festival, a music and dance festival held in the Gardens of Cap Roig. Celebrated annually since 2001, this event attracts a variety of national and international artists.
Another ‘biggy’ is the Festival de Porta Ferrada in Sant Feliu de Guíxols. It’s believed to be the oldest summer festival in Spain and takes place throughout the village in its streets, squares and venues with a range of local and international artists from a variety of disciplines including musicians, singers, orchestras and choirs.
The mediaeval Castell de Peralada is the setting for the Castell de Peralada Festival during the months of July and August. Set in the Castle Park gardens, it’s an ideal venue for concerts on a summer night. The church and the cloister, by contrast, host recitals, chamber concerts and small-format operas.