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The three core days of the Festivity

29th August^

BELL RINGING AND FIRECRACKERS.
Everybody is nervous. Everybody wants to hear the start of the Festivity and it is a magic and emotional moment, which indicates that the festivity has started one more time.

PASSACAGLIA.
Primarily a display of more than twenty folkloric groups (popular dances, human towers, music band, etc.) who walk in a procession, showing their still immaculate clothes to the audience and indicating the start of the festivity. It is difficult to state a specific hour for the end of the passacaglia, but it can be said that it finishes in the Vila square (Council square) where the first human tower is built. This first tower display is known as Castells, torres i pilars.

ST. FELIX’S PROCESSION.
The spectators and the groups accompany the Saint from the Administrator’s house to St. Maria’s basilica. The itinerary is different each year and for this reason, it is unknown until it is published in the official program. Once the Town Festivity finishes, the Administrators take turns at keeping St. Felix’s image in their houses, until they return it to the basilica the following year.

After dinner, at 23.00 hours, an extraordinary FIREWORKS display takes place at Camp del Cellerot, which captivates natives and visitors alike. Night shows follow the fireworks, there are around six shows which take place simultaneously and it is necessary to hurry in order to find a seat (if there are seats, of course).

Normally there is a formal concert by the Music Band, theatre shows, sardanes (typical Catalan dance), recitals, festivals…and lately the EMPALMADA, a good excuse for those who don’t feel like going to sleep: dance and an official party until next morning.

30th August. Saint Felix^

MATINADES.
At seven in the morning, the bell ringing announces the festivity and St. Felix’s relics are on display in order for the faithful to venerate them. Simultaneously the grallers gather at the Vila Square and they start playing the MATINADES. Many groups and spectators accompany them, with the purpose of waking everyone up. Some associations, shops and citizens offer food and drinks to the people who walk, to ensure that they end up having a proper breakfast.

After having breakfast around 9:30 in the morning, there is the arrival of the INVITED GROUPS OF HUMAN TOWERS, dances, grallers, falcons, castellers and the musical groups, who accompany the Administrators from the Town hall to the Basilica of Santa Maria. Where they celebrate the Solemn Mass, in honour of St. Felix and witness the offering of all the groups. After the solemn mass in the Basilica, the “human towers” erect their columns in front of the “Castellers monument”.

Afterwards, the Administrators, accompanied by the above-mentioned train of followers, head towards the council where they will preside over a short folkloric display of dances with the Town Authorities. The most important act of the day takes place after the dances display: THE DISPLAY OF HUMAN TOWERS organised by the best groups in the world in this field. Together, they make a huge effort to show that the expression “Vilafranca, la Plaça més Castellera” (Vilafranca, the best square for human towers), which is shown in one of the tiles of the square porch, remains true.

After a deliciously rich meal, the afternoon starts with a BAND CONCERT.

After that, the TRADITIONAL PROCESSION OF ST. FELIX, formed by the usual procession, the Council authorities and many ex-administrators, as well as other citizens who want to accompany the image of the Saint, go out of St.Maria’s Basilica. The procession finishes in the Basilica, where ST. FELIX ENTRANCE takes place. It is a very deep and intense moment. The simultaneous firework display, the evolution of the dances and the mix of “grallas” and music band sounds constitute a unique show.

After dinner, one must choose from a wide range of activities.

31st August^

MATINADES.
Like the day before, the morning starts with the MATINADES which are only followed by those who still have some energy left. At 9:30 takes place the act of accompanying the Administrators to the Basilica where the Solemn Mass is celebrated to commemorate the deceased of Vilafranca.

Once the mass finishes, everyone goes to the Vila Square. There a FOLKLORIC EXHIBITION takes place. The 31st August is without any doubts the day of the dances. Many different kinds of dances are shown on top of a stage located in the centre of the Vila Square. Even though the dances are repeated every year, the evolution of the different dances is one of the most massively attended acts of the Festivity.

After that, the LOCAL HUMAN TOWER GROUPS make their last exhibition. When the act finishes, all the “grallers” (around 50) gather to play the TOC DE VERMUT, which they repeat until the end of the avenue. Meanwhile the people, hand on shoulder, are accompanied by the music and dance along to the melody.

In the evening, the last PROCESSION departs from St. Maria and, as we have already mentioned, from there it goes inside one of the Administrator’s houses. From here the FIREWORKS will take place, accompanying the dances are the “human towers” and the music band. At night the only dilemma is the same before: choosing among the different options –theatre, concerts, music, dances, etc.- offered in the Vila.