"La Revetlla" in the heart of Catalonia

In Catalonia, everyone celebrates the start of summer on the night of 23 June, the eve of Sant Joan. It’s a crazy, smoky time when kids run around, hurling firecrackers onto the ground and shooting rockets into the sky.

Traditionally, people celebrate la revetlla, when all the neighbours sit down together in the street to share a communal meal and party long into the night. Since I've been living in a rural village in the heart of Catalonia, I always go to the local revetlla in my neighbouring street, organised by the shopkeeper, Mari-Angeles. Here's how it happened this year, la revetlla from start to finish.

Agustí, Mari-Angeles' husband, lights the barbecue and unloads supplies for later.

Inside the shop, Mari-Angeles lays out meats to be roasted outside.

Butifarres (Catalan sausages), cansalada (pancetta) and butifarres negres (blood sausages).

Neighbours start to arrive and help. The Mayor, Rosa, unfolds tables while her dog watches intently.

Yellow tablecloths are put out.

More people arrive.

Meanwhile, the children start to throw fireworks in the village square.

There is a skill to lighting more than one at a time.

The sausages are put on the barbecue to cook.

We all watch Agustí, mesmerised.

Laire, Amber and Lorena spread a tomato-and-olive-oil mix onto hundreds of slices of bread to make the Catalan classic "pa amb tomaquet" (bread and tomato).

Night falls and it's time to sit down to dinner.

The kids are eager to finish so they can get back to throwing fireworks.

At last, explosions in the dark, and, yes, there were responsible adults there too.

Fountains of fire.

It's great fun running around the shooting sparks.

At the dinner table, people have started to get up and dance.

La Conga.

The boys continue on their fire trail.

I use an empty cava bottle to position a rocket firework. By 1 am, the night-time village air is pretty cold, although I'm the only one wearing a jacket.


Bona revetlla a tothom! Have a great summer :-)