During 11, 12, 13 and 14th February, Santa Eulàlia local festivity -second patron of Barcelona city- and the light Barcelona festival go together to celebrate the winter festivity in Barcelona.
Santa Eulalia activities are focused on families, during these days there are different activities, gegants, cercaviles and correfocs, castellers, sardanes and music bands that play in different places in the city.
Once is dark in Barcelona is the turn for the light festival called Llum Barcelona, there is light in all important building of the city and give another vibe to squares and little streets in the city. Students from design schools, architecture, and interior design work to produce these game of lights thanks to technology and their talent to create the show.
Santa Eulàlia festivity is also known by the name of "la Laia" or winter festivity in Barcelona. As mentioned, activities for families are the main attraction but there are plenty of options for all ages. If it is your first time in Barcelona you will get a taste of the culture, the most important events are: procession of Laies, Santa Eulàlia entourage, the day of "castellers, sardana dancing, the correfoc that comes along with the diables -the devils" and also with the fire beasts as they call it that are part of the fire party.
Santa Eulàlia has been the patron saint since XVII, the legend explains that the roman emperor on IV commanded that all Christians in the empire should be prosecuted. In Barcelona, many of them were hidden and some others left the city.
In this situation little Eulàlia, a thirteen-year-old girl lived in a country house in Sarrià demonstrated a lot of courage going to the consul to protest about this unfair situation. Poor Eulàlia was enprisoned and punished, but she kept fighting for what she thought it was right and unfortunately, this was the end of her life. From that moment onwards, Eulàlia has been a symbol of solidarity and defence of justice and it is still very important for the citizens.
You can see how the party looks like in this Youtube video:
The celebration of Santa Eulàlia's festivity is very recent, in 1983 is when the bases of he festivity are created by la Generalitat -government of Catalonia-. The most important activities are:
The placement of "penó": this is probably one of the most symbolic acts in the festivity, the placement of penó -historical flag of the city- in the balcony of the city hall along with els Segadors music, and right after that, they open the doors of the city hall to all the public to be visited.
Santa Eulàlia entourage: it is a big "cercavila" that has its origin in 1983 and counts with the participation of many festivity figures such as els gegants, gegantons, nans, capgrossos and historical city beasts and the first one of those is of course gegantona Laia, the leading role. The entourage is on Sunday evening at 11h and goes around Gothic area.
Procession of Laies: is one of the oldest traditions of nowadays celebration, it is a cercacila again but lead by the gegantes of Ciutat Vella and on that day they are named Laies. It starts at 7pm in Sant Josep Oriol square from where the figures start the route.
- La diada castellera: during Santa Eulàlia festivity, the human castles are one of the keys of the party and is celebrated on Sunday. Human tower associations -we call them colles castelleres- gather in Plaça Nova and start building up human towers from there until plaça Sant Jaume.
- Correfoc: literally means run from the fire, and couldn't be more splicit in its meaning as it is truly a parade of people most of the times in devil costumes playing with fire along a route, there are also cardboard beasts that have fire devices too and are party of the fire party.
- Sardanes dancing: is the typical dance from Catalonia, and on 12th February is typical to dance sardanes in Plaça Sant Jaume, get near there and see how they do it.
Disclaimer: Cercavila picture by Ajuntament de Vilanova