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Wide international coverage of 26th edition of the Castells Competition

Impressive aerial shots showing the riot of colour on display at the 26th edition of the Castells Competition in Tarragona, southern Catalonia, have travelled around the world. Media outlets such as the BBC, Russia Today and The Los Angeles Times published videos, pictures and articles on the contest. Catalonia’s ‘human tower’ competition, ‘Concurs de Castells’, took place at Tarraco Arena Place, an old bullring, attracting 20,000 spectators and 32 teams. The biennial event saw one group, ‘Els castellers de Vilafranca’, secure its eighth title on the trot. However, one of the most applauded performances was that of the Chinese team ‘Els Xiquets de Hangzhou’, the first ever international team to compete at the contest. Around 380 professionals from 120 different media outlets covered the event on Saturday and Sunday. 


04 October 2016 06:46 PM


ACN / Marina Force

Barcelona (CNA).- Nearly 380 professionals from 120 different media outlets covered on Saturday and Sunday the biennial Castells Competition at Tarraco Arena Place, an old bullring in Tarragona, southern Catalonia. Media from all around the world conveyed news of the competition, mainly through colourful images and videos of the ‘colles’, or groups of castellers. News agencies such as Reuters, Agence France Press, Associated Press and the European Pressphoto Agency witnessed the highest castell in history, a 10-level structure with three people on each level, built up and dismantled by ‘Els castellers de Vilafranca’ (‘The Greens’), who won the competition for the eighth consecutive time. A dozen human tower groups performed on Saturday afternoon, while the top 12 did so on Sunday. Up to 200,000 spectators from all around the globe came to the event. The international coverage “is a sample of the impact that castells have not only in our territory, but in all the world”, stated Tarragona’s Mayor, Josep Fèlix Ballesteros. 

“Catalonia’s awesome ‘human towers’ put Cirque du Soleil in the shade”. This is the title Russia Today chose for a short feature article on the 26th edition of the Tarragona competition. This news piece, full of colourful photographs and videos, also told of the participation of the Chinese group in the competition. “The group from Vilafranca may have claimed the crown yet again, but the Chinese team ‘Els Xiquets de Hangzhou’ (Children of Hangzhou) stole the hearts of many present. And it’s not hard to see why”, claimed the article which features a video of a human tower built by this group.

The group from China were the first foreign team ever to take part in the event, coming second on Saturday. The team received a standing ovation for their tower, which was assembled with three people per level in a tower of nine. The ‘Children of Hangzhou’ was born in 2010 around the textile company Antex and have ever since received the support of ‘la Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls’.

Their presence at the competition crossed boundaries and several Chinese media made this the focus of their articles. The Xinhua News Agency wrote: “‘Els Xiquets de Hangzhou’ built in the first round a human tower of three people per level in a tower of nine levels, a fact described by the local press as historical and received a standing ovation from the audience”.

From America, to Singapore and back to the UK  

American magazine The Atlantic was only one of the several media outlets publishing photographs and videos of this weekend’s competition. USA Today uploaded a gallery of 17 pictures under the title ‘Human Tower Competition in its 26th year’ and The Los Angeles Times uploaded 10 images, while explaining this tradition, which dates back to the 18th century, and the aim of the contest: “Teams compete to build the tallest and most complicated castells”. The CBS television news network also uploaded a gallery with 24 photos and stressed that “in 2010, castells were declared by UNESCO to be one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. 

For their part, the British media also covered the contest. The International Business Times collected numerous “amazing” pictures of people constructing “terrifying” castells under the title “Incredible photos of Catalonia's colourful and complex human towers”. The Daily Express tabloid published a slideshow of images and so did the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Daily Mail. Furthermore, The Telegraph compiled videos from Instagram to create a timelapse of the traditional Catalan human towers. The newspaper posted the result on Facebook on Tuesday morning and it already has 41,000 views.

Platforms such as Lonely Planet News and Yahoo News also published images and videos of the event. The Catalan tradition was even featured by The Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper, which chose as the first image of its section ‘Today in Pictures’ a photograph of the competition.

The organisers claim the event a “general success”

The organisers of the Castells contest are satisfied with the holding of the event. Councillor for Festivities of Tarragona City Hall, Begoña Floria, said that 2016 was "a great competition", and labelled it "a general success".

The councillor stressed that on Sunday that all records were broken again when ‘The Greens’ put on the best performance in the history of castells and Tarraco Arena Place saw for the first time a ten-storey tower being successfully dismantled. This 26th edition lasted six hours and 10 minutes, the same time as in 2014, but there were two castells more than two years ago.


  • BBC website displayed a photo gallery of the Castellers Contest (by ACN)

  • BBC website displayed a photo gallery of the Castellers Contest (by ACN)