Girona plays host to many musical and cultural festivals and celebrations throughout the year, and gives visitors an idea of the Catalan culture and lifestyle. For outside Girona check the Events page.
Girona’s main festival and by far its biggest is the St Narcis Fair (Fires De Sant Narcis) starting in late October until early November. Lasting about nine days it’s named after the city’s patron, Saint Narcis known locally as the ‘Saint of Flies’.
It starts with an evening opening ceremony in front of the Girona Ajuntament or town hall building in Placa de Vi which gets very crowded. Giant figures are paraded through the streets and one year a huge, motorized Frankenstein-like figure about 12ft tall had my kids well scared! Each year the city hall puts on a different spectacular.
Numerous market stalls crop up on open spaces all over the city, the Placa de Independencia has stalls that sell books and locally produced artisan food like cured meats, sausages, olives, beers from local micro-breweries, honey and cakes. Pick up some delicious chocolate cheesecake and skewers of mixed fruit dipped in chocolate.
The Parc De La Devesa’s long, wide avenues get totally taken over by a giant fairground, open every evening till the early hours at weekends, with rides for all ages and even a giant ferris-wheel that towers above the tall Plane trees.
At the north end of the park on a large open area called La Copa they erect a huge music stage with different bands playing every night, free to attend, starting at around 10 pm. The music varies from rock to rap. Numerous shacks sell hot food and drinks so it’s a popular place to congregate if you fancy a snack with your music. Locals refer to this place as ‘Las Barraques’, the barracks. Each one is run by or supports local schools and charities who benefit from the profits made. This area gets very busy with a young crowd most nights, especially at weekends.
On one of the festival days we went to the bottom of the Girona cathedral steps at about 9pm to watch the ‘human castle’ being performed, quite spectacular and a must-see. This is where the members of the group stand on each other’s shoulders and slowly build a tapering-column of people with a small child being the very last person to clamber up to the top. Once the human column is assembled the whole column ‘walks’ up the Cathedral steps. Other group members on the ground lend physical support to the human column as it climbs.
There are many other festival events dotted around the city on different days. Antique and collectible fairs are held outside St. Feliu church as well as arts and craft markets at the weekends, the biggest is in the old town on November 1st. with many stalls lining the Rambla and beyond selling paintings, curios, collectibles, food items and jewellery.
About late morning on the last day there’s the Trobada de Gegants (meeting of the giants) these are large papier mache figures which are paraded through the streets, well worth catching. Inside each ‘gegant’ there’s a person who walks it along the route as other group members play an assortment of instruments, mostly drums. A good place to watch it is in the old town’s Rambla de la Llibertat .
The whole procession takes about one hour to pass by with each group representing a local village or town. The St. Narcis festival ends with a magnificent, big firework display on Sunday at about 8pm which is best watched from by the side of the river Ter and in front of the Auditori Palau de Congressors. The tourist office is the best place for more info and leaflets on the festival.
Another feature of the festival is the ‘Corre Foc” This video below is a good example of the mayhem, slightly long perhaps, from 2010.
Three Kings Festival. The three kings (Melcior, Gaspar and Balthazar) and their convoy which includes pages, cooks, musicians, acrobats and flag bearers set-up camp on the edge of Girona.
The Girona Three Kings festival starts around the 5th of January and is well worth seeing if you’re in Girona at this time of the year. A lengthy procession begins from Placa Catalunya and winds its way around Girona’s modern area for the next couple of hours finishing near the Girona town hall (ajuntament) building. The streets get jam-packed with locals vying for a good position to watch it.
Those taking part are all dressed-up in a variety of costumes and we even saw fire-eaters. Horse-drawn carts are laden with presents to mimic the bringing of gifts to the new born baby Jesus. As each ‘King’ passes through the crowd on his elegantly decorated carriage he throws handfulls of sweets for the kids, that wait eagerly with outstretched arms.
Easter in Girona (Setmana Santa). It could be said that other cities and towns in Spain have more to see during Easter than here, which may be true but it still attracts many locals.
The main thing to see is the procession (Processo del Sant Enterrament) that leaves from the cathedral at about 10pm on Easter Friday. The route goes through the old town up to and around Pl. Catalunya finishing back at the cathedral about two hours later. Pick up a leaflet from the Girona tourist office with a full programme of events.
Roman soldiers, some on horseback lead the way, followed by eerily dressed, cone-headed ‘Confraria’ who belong to the Junta de Confraries de Girona. About a dozen different types exist in total, each group wear different coloured robes and head-dresses which are all cone-shaped. We watched it all go past us slowly down a quiet street in the old town, which added to the atmosphere. Each group had members, some bare-foot (as penance) who pushed heavy wooden carts carrying figures of Christ along the narrow street.
N.B. I’ve been lucky to have experienced Easter elsewhere in Spain, in Cadiz, Cordoba and Madrid. By far the best were those in Andalucia.
Tempo Sota De Estrelles, Placa dels Jurats, Girona Old Town.
Loosely translated as ‘under the stars’. Balmy summer evenings and old town ambience make a perfect combination. Add a slice of music and a cold white wine to top it off. Some bright spark came up with the idea to turn it all into an outdoor mini-music festival (July/August).
Located opposite the Arab Baths, set amongst stone terraces beneath the towering Cathedral and surrounded by greenery. There’s a small musical programme (paid and free) of mostly local artists and bands, but some UK/overseas too. Sunday jam sessions, food stalls and bar areas-just go for a drink and sit ‘under the stars’! www.tempogirona.com
Black Music Festival, Girona & Salt
An extensive month long programme of concerts held at various venues in Girona and nearby Salt during March. Mostly black artists and some from overseas. Past participants included Gloria Gaynor and Mowtown legend Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 2019.
We saw a great local jazz band, The Gramophone Allstars who did an Amy Winehouse tribute concert with a former member of her band, Zalon as a guest star. There are even a few free, open air concerts staged in the Park Migdia. Ticket prices are reasonable but the more expensive acts use Girona’s Auditorium, a purpose built venue for concerts and conferences.
Smaller venues like El Canal in Salt are standing room only and there’s something to please all tastes. www.blackmusicfestival.com
Toca de Vi
Over the course of a long weekend at the end of May the open air space within the Placa de la Independencia is transformed into a giant wine tasting event, promoting mostly Catalan wines. Avenues of booths are created allowing you stroll amongst them tasting wine and even buying some.
To add to this mix there are additional food stalls too. First though, you’ll need a set of ‘food’ and/or ‘drink’ tickets, sold from a sales point, in blocks of 10 euros. The drinks packages include a wine glass for each person which are yours to keep. With glass in hand just roam around deciding which wine you’d like to try. Each wine booth displays their wines and the price of a glass as 1 or 2 tickets. Food stalls operate in the same way.
There are tall, round tables with bar stools dotted around. Just use up your tickets trying different wines or buy more if you want to. It all kicks off at about 6pm each day until midnight.
Temps de Flors
Girona’s flower festival each May has been a runaway success and attracts visitors from far and wide these days. Over the span of about 10 days nearly a hundred locations are decorated internally and externally.
The bulk of it is within the old town areas. Of course flowers and plants feature heavily and are incorporated within numerous artistic designs. Contemporary and abstract themes make for an interesting and varied mix some of which can leave you scratching your head.
Many interior patio spaces, some privately owned which are normally closed, are opened and decorated. The large influx of visitors means that popular spots like the Arab Baths restrict entry so be prepared to wait a while. Local bars and restaurants create special menus and I’m sure they also take the opportunity of raising their prices a bit.
As a resident I try to stagger my visits as it’s a lot to cover in just 1 day and I avoid the first few days. Each location is numbered and staffed and many have the entire map, for free or try the tourist office in La Rambla. The largest floral installations include the Girona Cathedral steps and the long stretch of steps at Pujada de Sant Domenec.