Catalunya’s national folk dance, the sardana, is danced every week in front of La Seu, in Plaça de la Seu (every Sunday at noon, plus every Saturday at 6pm from Easter until the end of November). Mocked in the rest of Spain, the Catalans claim theirs is a very democratic dance. Participants (there’s no limit on numbers) all hold hands in a circle, each puts something in the middle as a sign of community and sharing, and since it is not overly energetic (hence the jibes), old and young can join in equally.

The main event in a traditional Catalan festival is usually a parade, either promenading behind a revered holy image (as on saints’ days or at Easter) or a more celebratory costumed affair that’s the centrepiece of a neighbourhood festival. At the main Eulàlia (Feb), Gràcia (Aug) and Mercè (Sept) festivals, and others, you’ll encounter parades of gegants, five-metre-high giants with papier-mâché heads based on historical or traditional figures. Also typically Catalan is the correfoc (“fire-running”), where brigades of drummers, dragons and devils with spark-shooting flares fitted to pitchforks cavort in the streets. Perhaps most peculiar of all are the castellers, the human tower-builders who draw crowds at every traditional festival, piling person upon person, feet on shoulders, to see who can construct the highest, most aesthetically pleasing tower (ten human storeys is the record).

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