Festes de Sant Roc 2016

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Festes de Sant Roc 2016
© Nico Alonso

Also known as the Festa Major (big neighbourhood street party) of the Barri Gòtic, this is the oldest Festa Major in Barcelona, dating back to 1589. As in the medieval markets of the time, there will be plenty of activities going on over the five days of the party, as well as craft stalls. You'll find things to do for kids, social dances, traditional dances, fire runs ('correfocs') and loads of other goings-on to keep you celebrating.

On the first day, Friday August 12, the most traditional events kick off, including the inaugural parade through the neighbourhood (it gets underway in the Placeta de Manuel Ribé at 6pm); the raising of the flag and the climbing of the Cockaigne pole in Plaça Nova – which are repeated every day; traditional 'sardana' dancing at 7.30pm; and a night of dancing starting at 10pm.

On Saturday starting at 6.30pm it's the Festa Catalana, with the Dance of the Gypsies from Mataró, Dance of the Pastorets (stick dancers) from Sitges, and the Dance of the Sant Roc Giants in Plaça Nova.

The Percúdium 'tabalers' (similar to marching band drummers) celebrate their 20th anniversary on Sunday with parades through the neighbourhood with the groups Kabum, Kukumkú, Beirâo and Percúdium (at 6pm they head off from Plaça Nova). And you'll also find traditional games, at 6.30pm, like sack races, egg-and-spoon races, and hide and seek.

Although Monday the 15th is a bank holiday, the fun doesn't stop during the Festa Major. In addition to the artesan fair, at noon look for La Fiesta del Perro, with an agility competition and the traditional salutation to Sant Roc by the dog itself. Later, at 5.30pm, everyone can enjoy the XXXV Dance of the Giants and have a sweet snack at the big 'xocolatada' chocolate feast. The day comes to a close with the singing of habaneras from the group Cavall Bernat.

Tuesday the 16th is Sant Roc's feast day, and the day kicks off at 9.30am with the Gran Traca Despertada – that is, a lot of noise to wake up the neighbourhood, courtesy of a parade of devils, 'bastoners' playing drums, dancers, neighbourhood beasts, giants and anyone who wants to join in on the fun. At 10.30am, in the Santa Maria del Pi church there's a singing Mass, and after there's a floral offering to Sant Roc in Plaça Nova (12.15pm) followed by the Centenary Dance of the Sant Roc Giants in Plaça Nova, as well as the 'Porró Llarg' (you're just going to have to see this one). At 6pm there's a kids' festival with puppets and clowns, and at 8.30pm the 'esbarts dansaires' perform. The correfoc with the Barri Gòtic Devils, the Barri Gòtic Eagle and the Barcelona Vibra starts out from Plaça Nova at 10.30pm. The Festa Major comes to an end with fireworks at 11pm.

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