Girona plays host to many festivals and celebrations throughout the year which are an opportunity to give visitors and new inhabitants an idea of the Catalan culture and lifestyle. The “Fires i Festes” of Gironaare a week-long city festival which are also referred to as Sant Narcis, Girona’s patron saint, held from 24th October -1 November. Legend has it that a massive swarm of flies came out of the tomb of Sant Narcis and drove away the invading French army and so the fly is duly celebrated as Girona’s emblem.
It all starts with an evening opening ceremony in front of the Girona Ajuntament or town hall building in the old town, in Placa Vi which gets very crowded. Giant figures are paraded through the streets and a huge, motorized Frankenstein-like efigy about 12ft tall is enough to scare any grownup, never mind a child!
Numerous market stalls crop up on open spaces all over the city, the Placa de Independencia has stalls that sell books and locally produced artisan food like cured meats, sausages, olives, beer’s from local micro-breweries, honey and cakes.
The Parc De La Devesa’s long, wide avenues get totally taken over by a giant fairground, open every day and till the early hours at weekends, with rides for all ages and even a giant ferris-wheel that towers above the tall Plane trees.
At the north end of the park on a large open area called La Copa they erect a huge stage with different bands playing most nights, and surrounded by numerous shacks that sell hot food and drinks. Locals refer to this place as the ‘barracks’ or ‘Las Barraques’. It seems that each food’ shack’ is run by or supports local schools who benefit from the profits made.
On one of the festival days, at the bottom of the Girona cathedral steps at about 9pm the human castles are performed, spectacular and a must-see. This is where the members of the group stand on each other’s shoulders and slowly build a tapering-column of people with a small child being the very last person to clamber up to the top. Once the human column is assembled the whole column ‘walks’ up the Cathedral steps! Other group members on the ground lend physical support to the human column as it climbs.
There are many other festival events dotted around the city on different days, antique and collectible fairs are held outside St. Feliu church as well as Arts and Craft markets at the weekends, the biggest is in the old town on November 1st. with many stalls lining the Rambla and beyond selling paintings, curios and jewellery.
About late morning on the last day there’s the Trobada de Gegants (meeting of the giants) these are large papier mache figures which are paraded through the streets. Inside each ‘gegant’ there’s a person who walks along the route as other group members play an assortment of instruments, mostly drums. A good place to watch it is in the old town’s Rambla de Llibertat at about 11am. The whole procession takes about one hour to pass by with each group representing a local village or town. The St. Narcis festival ends with a magnificent, big firework display at about 8.00pm.
If you would like to explore and understand the history behind some of Spain´s most picturesque medieval villages, our Costa Brava Private Tour includes visits to Girona and Besalu as well as 3-star Michelin dining and Gourmet cooking classes.