All you need to know about the religious festival Patum de Berga, Spain

Patum is a famous Catalonian festival celebrated in Berga from May 29 to June 2, 2024, and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 2005. In addition, Berga streets turned into a stage for a five-day event with music, fire, and traditional figures like Guites (mule dragons), the Eagle, and giant-headed dwarves. All of them perform the final dance, the Tirabol. 

Berga is a town in Catalonia, Spain. It has historical monuments and buildings that tourists like. Some of these ancient monuments include the following: San Fernando Castle, Santuario de Queralt, Parochial Church of Santa Eulalia, Chapel of La Piedad, Plaza de San Pedro, Molino de la Sal, and the Church of San Juan.

The Patum festival has music and performances in the town square. In addition, the festival’s main event is the Plens, which takes place on Thursday and Sunday. The street lights in St Peter’s Square are off, and Plens are in the crowd. When the music starts, they light the firecrackers they wear in their costumes. The square transforms into a raging inferno, filled with fire and smoke, as thousands of firecrackers explode in a spectacular display during the performance. The crowd and the demons whirl around the square in a mesmerizing display of energy and passion.


1- The Àliga (Eagle):

The Àligavia – artesaniacamps

This heart-pounding moment also happens during the Full Patum festival. The Àliga is a glorious wooden eagle, which moves to the rhythm of its exceptional music. It is one of the most breathtaking choreographies of the event. The Àliga is a majestic spectacle that captivates the entire square in silence until the end of the music when it bursts into a jubilant dance and the crowd joins in. It is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated moments of the Patum. This performance is a striking blend of traditional Catalan dance and Gregorian hymns, evoking a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.


2- Giants dancing to Springsteen:

Giants dancing to Springsteenvia – elpuntavui

The Patum festival this year is celebrating its 150th and 125th anniversaries with four giant figures and two couples. To commemorate these dates, the designers of the Giants and the festival committee (Patronat de la Patum) have planned several activities. The festival has an agreement with Bruce Springsteen to play his song If I Should Fall Behind which will be played once on Sunday of Corpus during the festival. 


3- Full Patum festival:

Full Patumvia – turismeacatalunya

Full Patum festival  is a Thursday and Sunday event at 9:30 pm in St. Peters Square, comprised of four cycles, or “saltations.” After the second and fourth cycles, it is time to see the ‘Plens’ (demons) perform, with the ‘Tirabols’ coming up at the end. In every cycle, all the groups perform one after the other in the same order. The first to appear are the Turks I Caballets (Turks and Horses), the Maces (demons wielding maces), the Guites (dragons), the Àliga (eagle), the Nans Vells (old dwarves), the Gegants (giants), and the Nans Nous (new dwarves).

The interludes originally performed during Corpus processions had a clear educational purpose to improve morals, and they did so by recreating teachings from the Holy Scriptures. However, over time, these interludes ceased to have the original catechetical intention, with only the more festive parts of the performances remaining intact.


4- Daytime Patum:

Daytime Patumvia – elpais

It’s the same as the full Patum but with some differences. The only cycle that exists is the ‘Plens’. They do not perform, and there are no Tirabols at the end. The daytime ‘Patum’ begins immediately after High Mass on Thursday and Sunday at noon. It is performed with great solemnity by the groups, with spectators observing rather than participating. The Patum is a quieter and more family-friendly event. 


5- Passacarrers:

Passacarrersvia – vilaweb

The passacarrers (processions) are huge, lasting up to 9 hours and taking place on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. On this occasion, the festivities are not focused on the square; rather, the procession moves through the streets of Berga. The masses, guides, and giants are the only performers of the Passacarrers, as are the musicians. The route may change from year to year, but it always ends at Tirabols, in St. Peter’s Square.

Without a doubt, the Tirabols are like the closing party of every event in the ‘Patum’ and are always held in St. Peter’s Square. Dragons and Giants dance together with the crowd to an extremely lively, melodic, and strong soundtrack. The musicians have the final say in determining when the Patum ends each day. They play according to the public’s reactions, knowing exactly how to get them to respond to their songs.


6- Children’s Patum:

On Friday, the boys and girls from Berga will perform their own full ‘Patum’. The groups and figures are the same, scaled down to fit children. At the end, there are also Plens and Tirabols. All children from Berga are guaranteed the chance to take part in the groups thanks to a draw. 

The Children’s Patum is younger. In 1956, the ‘Patum’ was officially granted status, marking the first year the event was performed on Corpus Friday. The two-week rehearsals for the Children’s ‘Patum’ are an opportunity for the town children to master the various dance routines. It’s a real school for future ‘Patum’ performers.

The “Patum” is an incredible event that offers many different ways to enjoy it. It evokes many different feelings. The festival’s common thread is its beating heart: the ‘Tabal’, or drum. There is one person, the Tabaler (or drummer), whose job is solely to play it during the five days. This instrument has been in use since 1621 and was rebuilt in 1726. It was the only instrument used in the ‘Patum’ until the 17th century, marking the rhythm of all performances. Today, it is the only thing present during all the events