Barcelona to celebrate Sant Jordi with 'literary superblock'
Festival of books and roses falls on a Saturday, adding to high expectations after two years of pandemic
Valentine's Day is all well and good but Catalonia is already looking forward to its most romantic day of the year – Sant Jordi (St. George's Day), a celebration of books and roses.
An area of central Barcelona the size of "20 football pitches" will be pedestrianized to create a "literary superblock" this April 23, explained the councilor responsible for culture, Jordi Martí, at a press conference on Monday.
Extending from Diagonal to Gran Via and from Pau Claris to Balmes, traffic will only be allowed to cross the block via Carrer d'Aragó or València.
Within the 140,000 sq meter pedestrianized area, stalls on Passeig de Gràcia will be filled with professional booksellers and florists, while other associations and groups will set up Rambla de Catalunya.
With Sant Jordi's Day falling on a Saturday this year, Martí confirmed that bookshops across the city will be able to have stands selling books on the streets outside their premises on Friday too.
With the pandemic moving in an encouraging direction, publishers, booksellers and florists, as well as local authorities across Catalonia, are hoping that this year's celebration will mark a return to relative normality after the challenges posed by the last two years.
"We want everyone to come and visit the stalls" on Sant Jordi's Day, the president of the Catalan Booksellers Association, Maria Carme Ferrer, said at Monday's press conference.
"Will it be a good Sant Jordi? We are sure of it. People want to get out. Books have kept our spirits up, and we now have a lot more readers," she added.
Patrici Tixis, president of the Catalan Association of Editors said that everyone was "very excited" about the prospect of a successful Sant Jordi in the Catalan capital. "It's not by chance that Barcelona is a UNESCO City of Literature."
Outside Barcelona, Ferrer explained that in each town and city they are looking at suitable places to set up stalls. These might not necessarily be the traditional pre-pandemic points, but rather "open spaces," she said.
In Girona, for example, stalls will be set up in the same place as last year, at La Copa and Passeig de la Devesa.
Both Tixis and Ferrer said they were optimistic about sales this year, but decided against giving a concrete figure for the time being.
"We want to sell!" Ferrer said, "as many as we can!" Tixis added.
Listen to the Filling the Sink podcast from Sant Jordi's Day 2021 to learn more about this special Catalan festival of books, love and roses.