La Patum fire and demons festival sees thousands jumping despite rain delays

 People with auditory disability given vibrating vests to join in iconic Berga traditional celebrations

Thousands of people gathered on Berga's main square to celebrate La Patum on Thursday evening
Thousands of people gathered on Berga's main square to celebrate La Patum on Thursday evening / Mar Martí
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Berga

May 31, 2024 02:49 PM

One of Catalonia's most iconic folk culture events, Berga's La Patum, kicked off on Wednesday with the first parades and on Thursday night with the first of the largest events.

The street celebrations that mark the Christian feast of Corpus Christi were recognized by UNESCO in 2005 as part of the world's intangible cultural heritage, and date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.

The party began on Wednesday at midday as is customary, with the 'passacarrers,' a parade where the 'tabaler', or drummer, inaugurates the week of excitement along with some 'gegants', giant human figures that are accompanied by a band playing music.

Wednesday’s celebrations are just an appetizer for the main events during the weekend.

Starting on Thursday, following a party until 5 am, thousands gather at the Plaça Sant Pere de Berga square for the festivities. Dances by various groups and Gegants giants entertain the crowd.

Among the crowd was the leader of the Catalan Socialists’ party, Salvador Illa, who was greeted with “independence” shouts and whistles before the event started.

Rainy delays on Thursday

Thursday evening is the event La Patum is famous for: ‘Salts.’ Thousands gather on the Sant Pere square for dances and around 200 people firing firecrackers until the early hours of the morning.

Paça de Sant Pere square getting ready for 'salts' on Thursday
Plaça de Sant Pere square getting ready for 'Salts' on Thursday / Mar Martí

"Participating is a very beautiful experience. It is difficult to explain, you have to experience it to understand it,” Veronica Carballo, a resident of Berga and member of the group firing firecrackers, told the Catalan News Agency (ACN).

The rain delayed the celebrations by half an hour, but that didn’t stop those celebrating from jumping and celebrating.

131 kilos of gunpowder were used throughout Thursday night. A total of 400 kilos of gunpowder are reserved for the five days of La Patum.

Vibrating vests

For the first time ever, people with auditory disabilities were given a vibrating vest, making them feel the traditional music played at the iconic festival.

“I am very curious,” Rosana Camprubí, a citizen of Berga who doesn’t hear any sound, said.

Camprubí explained that since she was little, she would follow the movement of others’ bodies during La Patum, but now is her first time feeling the vibrations of the festival.

“I am very happy to try it,” another citizen of Berga, Marta Baliellas, said while trying out the vest for the first time.

For the first time ever, those with auditory disabilities could use a vibrating vest to feel the music at La Patum
For the first time ever, those with auditory disabilities could use a vibrating vest to feel the music at La Patum / Jordi Borràs

Friday for kids

To take a breather after the wild party of Thursday, Friday is reserved for children’s activities.

Around 150 kids from 4-14 years old celebrated their own mini-Patum at midday.

“I really like fire, but I am a little bit afraid to get burned,” 10-year-old Arlet, attending his first Patum, said. 

On Friday kids get to enjoy their own Patum
On Friday kids get to enjoy their own Patum / Lourdes Casademont

Luckily, the sun was the main character at this Friday celebration without incidents, except for a potential sunburn.