The Sant Jordi festival in Barcelona, a literary, flower-filled 23rd of April
Sant Jordi is one of our favourite Catalan festivals. On this day, roses and books flood the streets of Barcelona. Follow us to find out more!
In 2019, the Sant Jordi (Saint George) festival falls on a Tuesday, so there will be less people and you will have the opportunity to enjoy this romantic, cultural, lively and historical Catalan festival.
The origins of the Sant Jordi festival
The legend of Sant Jordi states that around Barcelona a dragon once terrorised the population. Once in a while a person was plucked out and delivered to the animal to appease it. When the king’s daughter was chosen she found on her way a knight named George who decided to take her place and fight the beast. When he managed to cut off its head, roses poured out. “Sant Jordi” is now considered the patron saint of Catalonia.
23rd of April 1616: the death of Cervantes and Shakespeare
On the 23rd of April 1616, two great literary figures were lost: Cervantes and Shakespeare. Which is why it is also traditional to offer a book to your loved ones, sometimes in exchange for a rose.
Sant Jordi: roses + books= festival
Sant Jordi is often compared to Saint Valentine’s day, but while this is the festival of lovers, Sant Jordi is more an occasion to exchange gifts among family and friends.
The 23rd of April is not a holiday in Catalonia. On the years when it falls during the week, it is celebrated during breaks and after work. It’s worth experiencing at least once in your life the particular friendly atmosphere of Sant Jordi in Barcelona. The city is carpeted with flowers and books, and creativity abounds in the streets. Shops and stalls even compete in originality.
- Thousands of roses and books cover the street, and all the city’s residents are in the street to celebrate this delightful tradition. It’s not to be missed!
Sant Jordi festival
The Ramblas, Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla Catalunya are the epicentres of this intergenerational event so they are swamped with people. If you don’t like crowds then avoid these areas and any of those participating in the festival!
Lots of events are traditionally organised: you can meet authors, there are conferences, open-doors at Barcelona city hall, exhibitions, classes and workshops for adults and children, blood drives and competitions, etc.
- It is generally possible to visit some museums for free as they open their door for the festival!
- Last year to celebrate Sant Jordi with music, the Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm hosted a number of concerts. It was also possible to attend various book and disc dedications, and enjoy dishes from numerous food trucks. It’s an event that perfectly brings together partying and culture!
To see more information about this day, head to the barcelona.cat page dedicated to Sant Jordi. Information is in Spanish, Catalan and English.
So, do you prefer a rose or a book for Sant Jordi 2019?
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About the author
Valérie, the creator of Barcelona Top Travel Tips, loves discovering new places, finding the words to describe them, and coming up with little illustrations for the website. Her favourite thing in Barcelona is the unusual, curvy architectural features of some of the city’s buildings. Some say she’s a dreamer… in any case, a city full of works by Gaudí is a great place for her!