Thursday, 4 April 2013

Start of Season for Catalan Human Towers ... or Discover Penedès, April 5-7

On Sunday they are back in Penedès again: the Catalan human towers (castells) which from now on will be built in the squares here, throughout the summer and well into autumn. If you are interested in experiencing this absolutely unique cultural phenomenon you will find the cava and wine region Penedès to be an excellent destination. Firstly, the tradition is very strong here so there are nine teams (colles) covering almost all our major towns. Secondly, Catalonia’s absolutely best and internationally most well-known team comes from here - Castellers de Vilafranca – and that is not by coincidence, since the town of Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès) once played a critical role in the history of human towers.

The season used to start around April 23 - St George's Day (Sant Jordi), celebrated as he is the patron saint of Catalonia - but nowadays many teams prefer to start a little earlier, to give themselves some time to prepare for a strong Sant Jordi peformance. That is the intention behind what we will see on plaça Vella in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) now on April 7, when the local Nens del Vendrell have invited Bordegassos de Vilanova (Garraf) and Castellers de la Sagrada Familia (Barcelona).

In general during the peak season, there is not a single weekend without human towers being built somewhere around Penedès, but in case you are unfortunate and happen to come here during one of the few exceptions, you might want to know that the teams rehearse several times a week and that you are then welcome to pass by their club houses and watch for free and for as long as you want.

Would you be here during the coming weekend, April 5-7, but are not interested in human towers, Penedès still has a lot to offer, eg. New Orleans jazz during the mini-festival Jazz Antic in Sitges (Garraf), more jazz in Sant Salvador (El Vendrell, Baix Penedès), Sardana dancing in Cubelles (Garraf) or mountain running in Ordal (Subirats, Alt Penedès). A full agenda in English can be found here.

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Mona & Göran: In this week's video, Göran comes out of the closet as a casteller and ponders why human towers are rapidly gaining strength as a cultural expression, particularly during the last few years.

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