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First International Castells Festival a great success

Castellers, Catalan traditional human towers, were performed this weekend at different spots in London. The British capital hosted the First International Castells Festival with great success, both in terms of the quality of the towers which were built and the warm welcome of Londoners. “Castells have a strong conciliatory component”, explained Jan Creixell, head of ‘Castellers of London’, “no matter where you come from or how old are you, it is a great excuse to gather different people together”. The local group, ‘Castellers of London’ invited their partners from Paris, ‘Geperuts’ to strengthen the relationship between both groups and also show off castells to an international public. In fact, groups of Castellers are starting to grow worldwide, including ‘colles’ from China, Chile and Montreal amongst many others.

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20 June 2016 02:29 PM

by

Sara Prim

London (CNA).- London hosted this weekend the first international meeting between traditional Catalan human towers groups. The local ‘colla’, ‘Castellers of London’ invited their partners from París, the ‘Geperuts’ to perform castells together at different spots in the British capital. One of the key moments was the 3 de 6 performed by ‘Geperuts de París’ at Spitalfields Market, a human tower which was build this Sunday for the first time outside of Catalonia. “Castells have a strong conciliatory component”, explained Jan Creixell, head of ‘Castellers of London’, “no matter where you come from or how old are you, it is a great excuse to gather different people together”. The success of the First International Castells Festival encouraged both ‘colles’ to repeat the initiative next year. “Ideally we’ll welcome Castellers of London in Paris”, stated Jesús Crespo, head of ‘Gepertus de París”.


The groups organised the first international castells exhibition to strengthen the relationship between Castellers of London and Castellers de París, and to show off castells to an international public: “the idea is to show our mutual support and to encourage more people”, said Marc Pujol, member of the Castellers of London. “We want to do regular international exhibitions, like the encounters between castells that are held constantly in Catalonia”, he added.

“I have a lot of problems trying to explain Castells to people who have never seen it, particularly when you start to explain that there are small children at the top of it!” confessed Steve Anderson, one of the members of ‘Castellers of London’. Anderson became amazed with Catalan human towers tradition when he first travelled to Valls, a village in the south of Catalonia with a strong tradition of Castells. “Catalan friends introduced me and then I got addicted”, he said to CNA.

“It is surprising however, that some people know what Castells are and have even seen it live”, explained the head of ‘Castellers of London’, Jan Creixell. However, he admits that what worries people the most is “the safety measures”. “We have been wanting to organise a meeting in Spitalfields since quite long ago, but didn’t have enough structure”, he explained. “Now we have grown a bit”, continued Creixell and pointed to the performance at Borough Market, which took place in April to celebrate Sant Jordi, Catalonia’s Patron Day, “as a key moment” which encouraged the local group to organise a bigger event. “We could see that people were really interested in seeing Castellers live”, he stated.

Castellers groups worldwide

The number of ‘Colles Castelleres’ which have been created outside Catalonia has grown exponentially. “The biggest one may be ‘Castellers de Hangzhou’, in China”, Jan Creixell told CNA, “but there are groups in Chile, Montreal, Copenhagen, Paris and many more locations”. By holding these encounters, “groups formed outside of Catalonia have the chance not only to meet each other but to share experiences and strengthen they binds”, explained Creixell.

“The idea is to help each other and one of the best ways of doing so is holding these kinds of encounters”, assured Jesús Crespo, head of ‘Geperuts de París’. “We are both young groups and have a very good understanding between us”. According to Jesús, such meetings should be held annually between the cities which have a Castellers group. “Ideally we’ll welcome Castellers of London in Paris next year”, he stated.

Donation campaign

Since both ‘Castellers of London’ and ‘Geperuts de Paris’ have been created recently and in places where help from public administration is sometimes difficult as it's not a known activity, they sometimes lack the resources to keep on going with their initiatives. In order to help their funding system, both ‘colles’ have launched a fundraising campaign through the website www.leetchi.com. Donations of €20 or more will get will get a bandana with the logo of the event, and, for donations of €40 or more, two bandanas with the badges of both groups.

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  • Image of a castell by 'Geperuts de Paris' during the First International Castells Festival, held this weekend in London (by ACN)

  • Image of a castell by 'Geperuts de Paris' during the First International Castells Festival, held this weekend in London (by ACN)
London's International Castells Festival