Once again, September sees one of the most popular festivals in the south of Catalonia, which, each year, brings thousands of people together to celebrate the origin of the culture of the capital of the province of Tarragona: the Santa Tecla Festival.
From 15th to 24th of September, Tarragona will be dressed up to enjoy a few days full of activities and concerts that will allow people of all interests and ages to discover the historical and cultural wealth of the city. We present a series of essential plans that you cannot miss if you visit Tarragona during the Santa Tecla Festival.
If you come to Tarragona, remember that with Shuttle2Sun‘s shared transfer services and private transfer services, low-cost and sustainable, you can move from Barcelona airport, Barcelona port, Reus airport, Girona airport and Camp de Tarragona AVE train station.
Origin of the festivities
The origin of the festivities of Santa Tecla dates to 1091, when Pope Urban II declared this feast day to be the most important of the year, and re-established the metropolitan see of Tarragona. Later, in 1118, Ramon Berenguer III the Great, Count of Barcelona, made an offering of the town to the Church.
The festival grew exponentially over the following decades until, in 1321, the relic of the holy arm of Santa Tecla, patron saint of Tarragona, which came from Antioch, a city in the East, arrived in Tarragona. Since then, the relic has been venerated in each edition of the festival, marking the structure of the festival, which is still maintained today.
These festivities have been recognised as a Heritage Festival of National Interest by the Government of Catalonia, and as a Festival of National Tourist Interest by the Government of Spain.
Get to know the entourage of popular elements
If you are planning to visit Tarragona during the Santa Tecla festival, you will be able to get to know, first-hand, the rich cultural heritage, formed by each of the elements of the popular entourage. The dances, beasts and other elements that have been added have been part of the festivities since the 14th century.
The great majority of the elements have been recovered in recent years, thus creating an important ensemble that highlights the value of Tarragona’s popular culture. All of them can be enjoyed during the festivities, in the dances and parades.
Among the elements of fire, Ball de Diables, recovered in 1984; the figure of Drac de Sant Roc, the most popular symbol of the Catalan festivities; Bou, which emerges from the image of the birth of Jesus; Víbria, which has the breasts and belly of a woman, as well as the head, beak and legs of an eagle, and the tail of a dragon; Griu, a remarkable element of these festivities, as Tarragona is one of the few places that have this figure in the popular entourage.
There are also other festive elements, such as Eagle, Mulassa, Cucafera, Lion, Magí de les Timbales, Giants and Nanos. As well as popular dances such as Ball de Bastons, Ball de Pastorets, Ball de Turcs i Cavallets, Ball del Patatuf, Ball de Gitanes, among many others.
Remember that you have at your disposal the shared transfer services and private transfer services of Shuttle2Sun, to move to Tarragona, from Barcelona airport, Barcelona port, Reus airport, Girona airport and Camp de Tarragona AVE train station.
During the festivities, if you are a lover of traditional popular culture, you can also enjoy up to three days of “castells“, a distinctive tradition of Catalonia, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is a magnificent opportunity for you to get to know their activity and the different groups that are part of the city: Colla Castellers Xiquets de Tarragona, founded in 1970; Colla Jove dels Xiquets de Tarragona, born in 1979; Xiquets del Serrallo, which recalls the fishing tradition of Serrallo; and Castellers de Sant Pere i Sant Pau, the youngest, linked to this neighbourhood of the city.
You can see these groups in action on the first Sunday of the festival, in Font Square, along with other invited groups. On the Day of Santa Tecla, 23rd of September, also in Font Square, and finally, on the Day of La Mercè, 24th of September, with walking pillars making a route of up to 410 metres, going from Cols Square to the City Hall.
In this new edition of the Santa Tecla Festival you can also enjoy the many concerts that make up the programme for 2023. Highlights include live performances on 16th of September by the bands La Fúmiga and La Cosina, and on 17th of September by the groups The Tyets and Arc de Triomf, all in Francolí Park.
On the other hand, the 12th edition of La Terrasseta festival will also take place in Saavedra Park, with a programme that focuses on female talent, with international artists such as Mujeres, Sara Hebe and Jhana Beat; and deejays such as The Clitorians, Luna Roja and Niña Mai, among others. As part of this event, there will also be gastronomic activities, open-air cinema, circus and conferences.
On the big day, 23rd of September, the traditional procession of the relic of the holy arm of Santa Tecla will be held, starting and finishing in Pla de la Seu, the square in front of the entrance to Tarragona Cathedral. The arrival of the relic at the temple puts the finishing touch to the festivities, with a joint dance by all the festive elements.
So that you can take part in Tarragona’s festival in a comfortable way, we suggest two very well-located accommodations. They are the 4-star Hotel AC Tarragona, just a few steps from Imperial Tarraco Square, and the 3-star Hotel Lauria, right in the heart of Rambla Nova.
If you liked the plans we have presented so that you can enjoy the Santa Tecla Festival, don’t forget to book your transfer from Barcelona airport, Barcelona port, Reus airport, Girona airport and Camp de Tarragona AVE train station. With Shuttle2Sun‘s shared transfer services and private transfer services, low-cost and sustainable, you can move to Tarragona, comfortably and without worries.