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Pyrenees-Orientales Highlights

Traditions and popular events the entire seasons


Carnival : Curious Bear feast in Vallespir

Every year we hunt a bear in the streets of the villages of Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans, Arles-sur-Tech, Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste.
With blackened face, the villagers, armed with wooden rifles, hunt down the bear, symbolized by dressed men in bearskin. When the animal is captured, we start singing and dancing...

Holy Week : the spectacular processions of the Sanch

The hooded Penitents, "caparutxe" in red or black, and women, all dressed in black, marched to the sound of a bell and canticle. They carry on their shoulders the "Mistéris", representations of scenes from the Passion of the Christ.
Is a commemoration of the most famous condemned man in Christendom in a somber display of mourning.
The Sanch Procession of Perpignan takes place on Good Friday afternoon and at night by the light of torches in Collioure and Arles-sur-Tech.
Bouleternère celebrate the Procession of the Holy Thursday evening.

Easter Celebrations

The Goig dels Eus (the eggs voice) in some villages, groups of singers go into houses to beg for eggs and sausages to prepare the eastern omelette.
You find the Eastern omelette on the Catalan table on Easter Monday. It consists of sausages (black) and soft vegetables such as asparagus and wild artichoke.

April 23 : Sant Jordi Feast (St. George)

This is a literary celebration for Feast book and the rose: the feast comes from a legend of the 11th century: each man offers a rose and every woman has a book for their beloved. Sellers of roses and booksellers are meeting. In the streets and village squares, publishers, writers and readers meet. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the Catalan language. This is an unmissable event for books lovers. This day has become, for Unesco, the World Book Day.

June 23 : The feast of St. Jean celebrates the summer solstice

The night of Saint Jean is the longest of the year, resulting in numerous feasts.
June the 22, the flame kept all year in the Castillet in Perpignan, is carry on top of Canigou, sacred mountain of Catalonia. There, at midnight, it is revived and then starts the great mountain trail, passing the flame to all villages in the department. This flame will ablaze the night of June the 23, thousands of lights will be prepared in all villages.

The wait and the arrival of the flame open a very popular feast in Perpignan.
The festival is in full swing across the Catalan Countries: ball, sardanes, fireworks ...

The day of Saint John, he is also a tradition by offering a bouquet of herbs intended to provide protection: the small bouquet is made with the immortal, stonecrop, walnut and St.-John's-wort. These herbs are normally gathered in the morning.

End of August-mid September : Visa pour l'Image - International Photojournalism Exhibition in Perpignan

Perpignan is for two weeks, "the center of the photojournalistic world". Visa pour l'Image is becoming the rendezvous (meeting place) of professional photojournalism and photography lovers.
Exhibits and photo essays are presented all over the city. But Visa pour l'Image is also lectures, nightly outdoor projection, meetings with agencies and award ceremonies to reward the best stories.
Perpignan traders also meet around this passion and have exhibitions in their shops under the Visa Off.

October: Harvest Festival in Banyuls-sur-Mer : a festive time, friendly and popular

A bucolic festival, tasting of local products and Banyuls.
An unusual celebration with the arrival of the harvest from the sea, by Catalan boats, and by children pressing the grapes.
A festival atmosphere: bandas, band’s, traditional singing, dancing, fireworks ... not to mention lunch Harvest on the beach ...
These celebrations are held in Banyuls-sur-Mer on the third weekend of October.
Over the years the festival has become a major feast: more than 7000 people enjoy the Sunday dinner on the beach. Combining heritage and festive events, the festival is remaining popular but has evolved: through local taste workshops, tastings, all kinds of music and sounds, as well as conferences and meetings around "food and wine".
It continues to attract a crowd of curious and experts thrilled to find authenticity.

December : Christmas

The Pessebre, alive nativity scene, relate the miraculous birth of Jesus Child through songs and folk tales. We can discover it in the Cathedral of St. John in Perpignan and in churches in some villages.
At this time, to brave the Catalan winter and to warm up, we drink the "cremat" traditional hot drink made with rum and coffee.
On the Catalan tables you find: tourons (kind of nougat), rousquilles, Catalan sweetshop accompanied with Christmas Muscat, from the very first vintage (wine festival, first Muscat de Rivesaltes of the year).

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