Temps de Flors brings colour and life back to Girona
City officials hope the flower festival can help reactivate the local economy after a difficult year
Girona is in bloom again, as the northern Catalan city is celebrating its annual flower festival, Temps de Flors, from May 8-16.
The event is bringing colour and life to the streets of the city for the first time since 2019, with a programme adapted to the pandemic.
Spectacular floral arrangements adorn the streets and squares, as well as various other colourful and decorative artistic installations. This year, 92 exhibitions in total will delight visitors in 83 different locations.
The week of Temps de Flors during any year is one of the best ways to take in the sights and sounds of Girona. Four selected routes that organizers suggest this year bring visitors to some of the most iconic streets and monuments of the historic city, as well as plenty of spaces of natural beauty.
Any visit to the north Catalan city would be perfect at this time of year, but if you plan on making a trip this week and seeing all 92 sights, it could be worthwhile getting your hands on a bike, as Covid-19 measures have ensured that the festival is much more spread out than normal, with installations stretching into plenty of new pockets of the city. However, ditch the bicycle when rambling through the old town, as the narrow streets, hills, and steps around the Cathedral and Arab Baths would not be very conducive to cycling.
Gloria Plana, a Girona city councillor who also helps to organize the festival, told Catalan News of her joy to see the return of the event, now in its 65th edition. She said that Temps de Flors “is very ‘us’, we enjoy it a lot and we enjoy sharing it with the rest of the world.”
Indeed, not only official organizations and participants help make the week such a magical time in Girona, as plenty of businesses and shops throughout the city have decorated their façades, doors, and windows with floral arrangements, with plenty making space for decorative plant pots and flowers at their doorsteps too.
A festival marked by Covid
Of course, things look very different this year to a normal Temps de Flors festival. For one, this edition is much smaller than normal, about half the size of 2019 when 171 installations were on show.
“Ever since we had to, unfortunately, call the festival off last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we already started thinking about the next edition,” Gloria Plana explains.
“It always happens, when one finishes you start thinking about the next, and we always worked with the idea that we would have to think about holding it with the pandemic still ongoing.”
“It’s true that there was some uncertainty because we didn’t know if we could hold the event or not, but we worked day after day to be able to put it on with maximum safety measures in place,” Plana explains.
Plenty of safety measures are in place at the festival this year, including access controls and limits on capacities, while all installations have been made in outdoor spaces. Usually, plenty are to be found inside some of Girona’s historic buildings, but architecture fans will be left disappointed with this measure.
The entire old town has a capacity limit of 10,000 visitors at the installations, a cap that was momentarily reached on the first weekend of the festival thanks in part to the warm and sunny weather.
“I'm very happy because it's really really pretty, especially in this lovely weather,” Maika Salvà explained to the Catalan News Agency on the opening day of the event. “Girona is a beautiful place and even more so with flowers, so we can enjoy it more on this beautiful day.”
Organizers have tried to decentralize the festival this year, bringing it to new neighbourhoods of the city, nine in total, with plenty of activity taking place some distance away from the city centre and old town.
In the serene and idyllic Plaça de l’Assumpció, situated in the unassuming neighbourhood of Sant Narcís, there is a park that has been divided into four quarters for the event.
Locals of all ages came together in the buildup to Temps de Flors to work on the installation in the park in Plaça de l’Assumpció using recycled materials.
Each quarter represents a season of the year, with decorations and props laid out. Spring was marked with fresh herbs growing, summer saw a sunbathing deckchair laid out next to sun hats, pumpkins and a bonfire represented autumn, with lots of snow, skis, and ski boots for winter.
Reactivating the economy
With the state of alarm coming to an end right at the beginning of the festival, the timing couldn’t have been any better for organizers. Major Covid-19 restrictions were lifted which would allow significantly more visitors to come to Girona to view the flower festival.
Catalonia’s borders opened up and the 10pm nightly curfew was removed, giving anybody in Spain the chance to stay in Girona for some days, helping to reactivate the economy after one of the most difficult years in memory.
City officials certainly hope Temps de Flors can act as an inflection point and give a boost to local businesses. “When there’s no pandemic, it’s a hugely important event that brings a huge amount of money for various economic activities: shops, businesses, restaurants, hotels,” Plana tells Catalan News.
Additionally, from Sunday, May 9, bars and restaurants have been able to serve food and drink on-site until 11pm, extended from 5pm, giving visitors the perfect opportunity to relax and refuel after a day of exploring the city.
“This year, we hope this festival represents a beginning to the reactivation of the economy, not only in a direct way but also indirectly for other sectors,” Plana said. “We should be able to start to see the light.”