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Barcelona set to celebrate St Anthony

Date Posted: 14/01/15

Barcelona set to celebrate St Anthony

This month sees Barcelona celebrate St Anthony in typical Catalan fashion as people come out to party on the streets - with not just one enormous festival, but two.

Both the Festa dels Tres Tombs celebration in the Sant Antoni district and the Sa Pobla a Gràcia in Gràcia commemorate the religious figure, and since one takes place on January 17th and the other right at the end of the month, you can always attend one if you miss the other.

Festa dels Tres Tombs

Festa dels Tres Tombs is the first of the two, taking place this coming Saturday. Considered the 'festa mejor' (major festival) of the Sant Antoni district and a huge cause for celebration, both residents and tourists love to get involved.

You can expect all the usual ingredients of a Spanish festival, including free live music in the streets, dancing for the old and the young, as well as giant floats known locally as gegants. Among the most impressive of these is the symbolic fire-breathing pig, which was the shape the Devil took when he attempted to tempt St Anthony away from the path of sainthood.

The church of Sant Antoni is one of the best places to be during the festival as many bring their pets to be blessed, thanks to St Anthony's status as the patron saint of animals. It's quite a sight to see hundreds of Catalans taking cats, dogs and all manner of creatures to the place of worship.

Also worth watching out for is the procession, which follows a winding route through the neighbourhood with dozens of enormous floats and hundreds of people dressed up in costume. The fun finishes when horsemen ride three circuits through the streets from Ronda Sant Antoni, through Plaça Catalunya, down La Rambla and along C/Nou de la Rambla - definitely a sight worth seeing.

Sa Pobla a Gràcia

This celebration, an import from Mallorca, takes place on the last weekend of January in the neighbourhood of Gràcia, one of Barcelona's most charismatic barrios. These festivities have more of a folk vibe, with parades of dragons, towering floats and candlelit singing among the activities to look forward to.

It's the street bonfires that are most symbolic of St Anthony, though, with plenty of opportunity to draw up a chair near the towering flames and cook sausages or toast. There is also the opportunity to witness the Catalan sport of castelling, in which people form extraordinary towers using nothing but their own bodies.

While these festivals are both immensely popular, don't worry if you can't make it to Barcelona in time for them. The Catalan capital is known for having an unlimited appetite for celebrations and city-wide festivities take place in the city all year round. Summer is a particularly good time to travel, as each separate neighbourhood has its own separate celebration, meaning that there are around six weeks of non-stop partying in the streets.

Posted by Michael Middleton

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