The Santa Eulàlia festivities, also known as La Laia, is arguably Barcelona’s biggest Winter celebration and is held around the 12th February each year.
Santa Eulàlia festivities in Barcelona
The festival pays homage to St Eulàlia, patron saint of Barcelona since the end of the 17th century. Barcelona legend tells of how, in the 4th century, the Roman Emperor Diocles ordered the persecution of all Christians in the empire. In Barcelona, many hid and some fled. Upon seeing this situation, Eulàlia, a 13-year-old girl who lived in a house in Sarrià, courageously presented herself to protest against such injustice. Eulàlia was imprisoned and tortured 13 times, once for each year of her life, but she was not defeated and did not stop fighting for her ideals. This ended up costing her her life.
From then on the girl became a symbol of solidarity and the defence of justice, and she is still venerated by the people of Barcelona.
You can find the crypt of Saint Santa Eulàlia in the Cathedral of Barcelona. In the Monastery garden of the Catheral live thirteen white geese that protect the city of Barcelona. There must be absolutely thirteen, otherwise it is thought to bring bad luck.
Facts about Festes de Santa Eulàlia
- Eulàlia is one of the two Patron Saints of the city, along with Mercè.
- ‘Eulàlia’ and ‘Laia’ continue to be common girl names in Barcelona.
- Barcelona’s Cathedral is named after Eulàlia.
La Diada Castellera (Human Towers)
Santa Eulàlia also marks the start of the Castellers season. The ‘Colles Castelleres’ is one of the main features during the festivities. In front of the Cathedral St Eulàlia, some of the Colles build honorary pillars, and then walk on to Plaça Sant Jaume with the pillars still in tact.
The Correfoc fire run is one of the most anticipated events and begins in the Rambla with a parade of participants from all grounds, which ends up in Plaça Sant Jaume.
Free entrance to the Barcelona City Hall
This is a rate exception during this Winter holiday, as usually it is not open to visitors.
Free museum entrance
As a tribute to the Patron Saint of Barcelona, some local museum are open to the general public for free during the festivities.
El Seguici de Santa Eulàlia (Giants parade)
This is a large street parade which originated in 1983 and involves the majority of Barcelona’s festival imagery: giants, little giants, dwarfs, big-heads and the beats of the Bestiari Historic de la Ciutat – led by the giantess Laia.
The procession of the Laies (Giants parade)
This is one of the oldest events of the festival – a parade led by the Ciutat Vella giants, which that day are rechristened with the name of Laia.
La ballada de Sardanes
The Sardana dance is an important part of Barcelona’s Winter Festival. On 12th February a dance takes place in Plaça de Sant Jaume organised by the ‘Cobla Ciutat de Barcelona’.