As if we didn't already have enough reasons to worship the neighborhood of Sant Antoni – vermouth on the terraces of C/Parlament, the programming at the Floridablanca cinema, the Sunday book market, and of course the popular neighbourhood market. So now it's time to celebrate the barrio itself. From Friday, January 16 to Sunday the 25th, Sant Antoni puts on its party best and the population of its streets multiplies.
It's the first night of the Festa Major and the barrio gets revved up early. While in the Biblioteca de Sant Antoni there's a roundtable on bringing back the long-lost Teatre Arnau (6.30pm), at the Casa Golferichs there's a jazz and beer session (7pm). But of course a big street party isn't up to much without a giant tent for music and other events. This year's is set up in Av de Mistral, between C/Rocafort and C/Calàbria. Kicking things off there is the Totiferra Sound Festival collective, at 9pm, with performances by the Big Band Antàrtida, rumba from La Casita del Huerto, and dancing later courtesy of DJ Caspa.
Sant Antoni wakes up early at 9.30am with the shots from the 'trabucaires', who dress in traditional garb and fire blanks from their blunderbuss guns. For a good breakfast, there's nothing like a visit to the craft beer fair in C/Viladomat, between C/Floridablanca and C/Tamarit, starting from 11am. A half hour later, in the Jardinets de l'Alquer, it's time for the welcome parade that starts off the Festa Major. With the dances of the 'gegants' and the fire from the devils, the neighbourhood pays tribute to its patron saint, St Anthony Abbot, protector of animals. If anyone wants their pets blessed, you can get that done starting from 12pm in front of the Escola Pia (Rda de Sant Pau, 72), which celebrates 200 years this year and is also where the opening speech of the Festa Major takes place at 1pm. After the Festa Major lunch in the big tent (2pm), an afternoon of music gets underway with concerts in some of the district's bars, including Bar Calders, La Resistència, the Olímpia and more. There will also be live music in the streets. At night the big tent provides a space for the Sant Antoni Regge Splash, a festival of Jamaican music now in its 11th edition.
Tradition dictates that it's time for the Sant Antoni race (runners start in C/Floridablanca at 11am), which is celebrating its 37th year. If you're hungry, in C/Urgell, between C/Manso and C/Tamarit, you'll find an aperitif space open to everyone until 3pm. After a well-deserved rest, at 7pm there's an 'habaneras' song show in the big tent for €5 with 'queimada' (a hot drink of orujo, sugar and lemon) included, brought to you by the Grup Morralla.
MONDAY 19th – FRIDAY 23rd
The intensity of the festival comes down a bit during the week, what with all that pesky work and studies getting in the way, but the programme does carry on, so you can stop by when you have free time. On Monday the 19th it's open doors at the Hortantoni, the neighbourhood's community garden. Tuesday the 20th brings a silent film session in the big tent (6pm), and for the kids, a chocolate feast in C/Floridablanca (6.30pm). For fans of the film 'Interstellar' as well as for the generally curious, physicist and astronomer Jordi Aloy Domènech gives a talk (in Catalan) on the search for life in the universe on Wednesday the 21st at the Escola Ferran Sunyer (Viladomat, 2), at 6.30pm. On Thursday the 22nd Casa Golferichs hosts a poetry marathon (5pm-8pm), and Friday the 23rd is theatre day, with the musical 'Somriures i... nostàlgies' about life in Sant Antoni at the Espai Escènic Tísner (Viladomat, 2-8).
The main attraction on Saturday is the 'cabalgata de los Tres Tombs', which is a procession of animals presided over by the image of St Anthony Abbot, which gets going at 10.30am from C/Floridablanca at C/Calàbria and arrives, around 12.45pm, at Plaça de Sant Jaume.
The nine-day festival is winding down, and Sant Antoni gets up early with the traditional waking-up of the neighbourhood (8am) (if you're staying in Sant Antoni, use ear plugs the night before!), a paella contest in Av de Mistral (10am-6pm), music, performances and a 'correfoc' fire run that starts at the Jardinets de l'Alguer at 7.45pm to bring the celebrations to an end until next year.