The Ball d’Espases de Cervera, guest of honour at the Seguici de les Basíliques de la Barcelona Antiga
The giant season in Barcelona opens with the Seguici de les Basíliques de la Barcelona Antiga, an event that pays homage to the parades of festive images carried out in the city in the 17th and 18th centuries. This year’s festival takes place on Saturday, 12 January, at 6.30 pm, with the parade setting off from the El Pi Church and making its way to the Santa Maria del Mar Church. The guest of honour on this occasion is the Ball d’Espases de Cervera, a traditional sword dance recovered in 2016 and currently unique in Catalonia. The dance was first documented in 1411 and disappeared in the 18th century due to the prohibitions by the Bourbon monarchy following the War of Succession.
The Seguici de les Basíliques de la Barcelona Antiga is an event that is organised jointly by the Association of Friends of the Giants of El Pi and the Casc Antic Giants’ Group. Festivities get under way at 6.30 pm in Plaça del Pi, with torchlight dances by small and large giants from El Pi and Santa Maria del Mar, the Gonfanons of the two churches, the Lion of the City, the Dolphin of Barcelona, the Mulassa [giant mule] of Barcelona and the Ball d’Espases de Cervera.
The procession starts at 7.30 pm and crosses the Gòtic neighbourhood before reaching Pl. Santa Maria, in La Ribera. Around 8.45 pm, the entourage will enter the Santa Maria del Mar church, where its various members will perform the dances of honour. The order of the dances will be as follows: the Lleó (Lion), the Dofí (Dolphin), the Mulassa (Giant Mule), the Ball d’Espases de Cervera, the Giants of Santa Maria del Mar and the El Pi family of giants. The event ends with the highlight of the day, the dance with four of the big heads from the two churches: King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and Elisenda and Mustafà. This is a dance that is unique to Catalonia and which only takes place during this event.
The Seguici de les Basíliques de la Barcelona Antiga is a festival that is held at the start of the year, around 10 January. It takes place on this date because one of the most spectacular festival images documented in Barcelona was held in 1601, to mark the canonisation of St Ramon de Penyafort, whose saint’s day is 10 January.