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'Enwitch' yourself at Aquelarre festival in Cervera - everything you need to know

Satan summons you to Cervera this weekend

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29 August 2019 01:17 PM

by

Oliver Little | Barcelona

For the 42nd year, Catalonia’s 2019 Culture Capital, Cervera, will host its iconic Aquelarre festival, otherwise known as “witches’ Sabbath”, and yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. 

The small town’s population is expected to more than triple this weekend, and visitors will spend over a million euros to enjoy what the town has to offer. 

Here’s a bitesized all-you-need-to-know ahead of the most unholy weekend in Catalonia.

Aquelarre?

First of all, why on earth is it called Aquelarre? The name translates as “witches’ Sabbath” or “coven” in English, the term is originally Basque - ‘aker’ means goat, and ‘larre’ means field. 

It refers to a witch get-together, in which the witches would carry out a ritual with the devil in order to obtain their supernatural powers. 

The first festival dates back to 1978, and every August ever since, the city congregates to worship the devil through shows, fireworks and music.

Gunpowder

This is not as sinister as it sounds - previous years of the festival have seen the 30,000 attendees ‘wowed’ by fireworks produced by almost half a tonne of gunpowder. 

This figure has been growing year on year, and there is no doubt that Cervera will once again be ablaze this weekend.

Fire, water, witches and the devil

Cervera always puts on a three-part show in the name of the devil. 

Correfocs (people dressed as devils) parade around the city holding sparklers for the first act. While this is something that can be found at many Catalan festivals, what follows certainly is not. The second act introduces the devil incarnate. The demonic goat, otherwise known as the “Mascle Cabró” every year he sports a different attire. One year, the goat even arrived on a Harley Davidson.

The climax of this parade - and climax is all too fitting a word - is centered around sexuality. “Mascle Cabró” is aroused by the witches and their erotic dances. Located atop a 20-meter crane, the devil incarnate ejaculates thousands of liters of water from an oversized phallus over the public. And yes, you read that correctly. 

Other spectacles tend to vary year upon year - last year, “witches’ lane”, a narrow, medieval street where the celebrations first began in 1978, was reopened for the first time in eight years

You can expect to see plenty of bizarre representations of these creatures littered across Cevera. 

Music

Lastly, the dances and festivals are topped off by the accompanying music of several various groups, as well as other free concerts. With the music programme released for 2019, this year is no different.

The Friday will include the Terrasseta de Preixens group, artists of the soundtrack of the cultural capital, while Saturday night will welcome groups such as returning iconic festival group Dharma Electric Company.

Believe it or not, the festival is in fact for all ages. Workshops, organized activities and parades aimed at younger demons are available for children. Just try to avoid the giant phallus. 

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  • The dancing devils are one of the main attractions at Aquelarre (Pere Francesch)

  • The dancing devils are one of the main attractions at Aquelarre (Pere Francesch)

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