Big festivals and major events on the Costa Daurada: Winter
What's on in winter on the Costa Daurada
By Xavier Amat|
December-January Fair and Festival of the New Oil This fair and festival celebrates the arrival of the olive oil that comes from the first pressing of the year. It takes place in different locations including Riudecanyes, Alforja, Amoster, Vilaplana, Riudecols and les Borges del Camp. A good, consistent breakfast, which of course features olive oil, marks the start of a series of activities promoted by agricultural cooperatives and other local organisations. Reus hosts the Siurana Olive Oil Fair in mid-November. This fair brings together the main producers of extra virgin olive oil DOP Siurana, and visitors can taste around 20 varieties of the first new oil of the season and take part in various parallel activities such as a tasting breakfast, cooking workshops, children's workshops, and the Gastronomic Fair of Siurana Oil, in which around 15 restaurants make special dishes using new extra virgin Siurana olive oil.
December 26-28 Living Nativity Scene at Masia de Castelló in Vandellòs Villagers of all ages take part in this traditional event, which is also known as Lo Pessebre dels Estels. Bundled up and trying to pretend they're not really cold, each of the 300 participants has his or her own role in the 30 vignettes that make up the scene, which also serves to bring this currently uninhabited village back to life for a few days.
December-January Nativity scene on the sand in La Pineda In a tradition that dates from 1999, sculptors from all around make figures for the most original nativity scene you're ever likely to see: they're made out of the sand on the beach of La Pineda. The nativity scene is conserved during the whole of the Christmas period and attracts the attention of all those who walk along the seafront at this time of the year.
Around January 17th Winter Festival in Vila-seca Held in honour of Saint Antoni Abat, the patron saint of Vila-seca, this festival gives a special role to animals, not only in the Tres Tombs procession, but also in the spectacular horse races held in the Parc de la Torre d'en Dolça. There are also plenty of activities for kids and a clown festival called the Pallassòdrom.
The nearest weekend to January 17 The 'Encamisada' in Falset This festival is linked to a legend that tells the story of how, at the beginning of the 18th century, on the feast day of Saint Anthony, the men of the town carried out an 'encamisada' (surprise nocturnal attack) against the French while wearing blue shirts as camouflage to blend in with the thick fog that covered the territory, thereby achieving victory. Falset’s Encamisada is a festival with a marked rural character. In the old days, all of the participants were the town’s peasant farmers who took to the streets with their carts and mules. Only men took part until the 1950s. Things are different today, since animals are rarely kept at home and participants now join the parade with groups of friends, and they rent the animals. There are still a number of carts, however. For additional information, contact the Priorat Tourism Office on 97 783 10 23.
January 24 Calçot Festival in Valls Valls is the town that gave us 'calçots', delicious scallion-like vegetables that are grilled over flames and eaten with tasty 'romesco' (red pepper and almond) sauce. The harvest time for calçots is celebrated in this festival that sees the streets and squares of the town filled with hungry visitors.
First Saturday in February Cos Blanc in Salou The central event in Salou's winter festival is known as Cos Blanc and features 26 floats and over 1,000 people in fancy dress parading through the town's streets under showers of confetti shot out by the 20 cannons that line the route. It's like a warm-up for Carnival and draws thousands of people to the town on the first Saturday in February.
First Sunday in February Xatonada Popular in Vendrell If you've never tried 'xató' – an anchovy, tuna and salt-cod salad served with a special sauce that gives the dish its name – you should head for the Rambla in Vendrell on the first Sunday in February. Around 2,000 portions of xató are served here, and there's also a competition for the best sauce made by adult and child chefs. The same day welcomes other activities such as performances, a food fair, coffee tastings and a gathering of cava plaque collectors.
February-March Xurigué Carnival in Calafell Get out your feathers and glitter and let go of your imagination at the Carnaval Xurigué in Calafell when the town is taken over by Carnival spirit for a whole week, complete with spectacular parades of 50-plus floats and 20 groups with around 18,000 members taking to the streets.
February-March Carnival in Tarragona This Carnival features an extensive programme of events and dances. The high point is the Crafts Parade, with groups of hundreds of people who fill the streets of the city with colour, masks, fireworks and music. Another high point is the Rua de Lluïment parade, which features the most spectacular floats of the Carnival. Finally, on the Tuesday of the week the king of the Carnival is buried amid a veritable orgy of fireworks.
February-March Carnival in Reus The Carnival in Reus has a long tradition and is a very popular event. Among the most unusual acts is a battle of tomatoes on Saturday morning and a battle of confetti on Sunday afternoon. And lots of parades of course, including the Rua de Lluïment on Saturday afternoon and the 'Parade of the Royal Hangover' on Sunday morning. There's even some action on Monday morning with Expo-profit in which the groups that organise the festivities offer breakfasts and lunches at affordable prices in Plaça del Prim. Tuesday sees the burial of the king of the Carnival, though one of his arms is saved and is not burned until the next day.
March TastaVerd in Riudecanyes This fair aims to raise awareness of the values of traditional agriculture and organic products, and the old crafts and trades, and vindicate the figure of the farmer. There are product tastings, a commercial fair and an exhibition of ancient trades.
Second Sunday in March 'Truita amb suc' Festival in Ulldemolins This festival pays tribute to 'omelette in its own sauce', which is a typical dish in the Priorat region. It features omelette cooking competitions with tastings of the food prepared, alongside a range of entertainment and activities. For additional information, contact Ulldemolins Town Hall on 97 756 15 78.
March 19 Festa Major of Sant Josep in Miami Platja The feast of Saint Joseph is Father's Day in Catalonia and the winter festival in Miami Platja. It is celebrated with dances, plays, vermouths, traditional Catalan dances like 'sardanes', and the election of the 'pubilla' (something like a beauty queen) of the town.