Fire becomes magic in Lleida

Fallas night in Taüll. Vall de Boí @Oriol Clavera

Fire and the Lleida Pyrenees have a special romance, particularly every San Juan. On that longest night of the year, the Pyrenean Fallas are celebrated. A show of flames, culture, and magic that gathers the people of our valleys. This festivity, which welcomes summer, was declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2015. The combination between rituals, torches in the air, music and gastronomy that takes place that night is something extraordinary. Are you going to miss it?

What is it about?

Although each town has its own tradition, it is yet the most special date for the inhabitants of these valleys, who light their fallas and dance this rhythmic ritual under the moonlight. The celebration focuses on the falleros, that go down the mountains with the lighted torches made of bark and branches with which they draw figures in the air, reproducing an ancient ritual of passage from childhood to adulthood. Meanwhile in the public square, the music and gastronomy of the area, complete an unmatched magical setting.

The fire festivals are considered an occasion to strengthen the social ties and feelings of community, identity and traditions. In addition, the next morning, the neighbors collect the embers and ashes from the bonfires and take them to their homes and orchards to protect them.

Where?

More than fifty municipalities throughout Aragon, Catalonia, Andorra and France celebrate this ancient tradition. Some particularities take place as in the town of Isil, in the province of Lleida, where tradition calls for lighting a tree trunk in the middle of the bonfire and serves as a signal to indicate to the young participants to start their descent from the top of the mountain. The traditions of Les and Arties in Val d’Aran are also special. The “haro” -burning log in the middle of the square- of Les is planted on the estivity of Saint Peter to be burned the following year, while in Arties it is crawled throughout the town, with people jumping from side to side.

World Heritage Site

Unesco included this peculiar celebration, called “Festivities of the Fire of the Summer Solstice in the Pyrenees”, in the Representative List of the Cultural Heritage Intangible Humanity in 2015. In addition to their spectacular nature, the efforts of these very isolated people to keep a unique tradition alive have awarded them this recognition. In many of those valleys a very important work has been done by cultural associations to revive the festival.

Come to Lleida and enjoy a magical night that you will never forget!