When is the Torelló Carnival 2021?
In 2021 Sitges Carnival has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The “Asociación Carnaval de Tierra Adentro” (ACTE), the Disciples of Sant Feliu and the Pullassu Collective are still discussing the protocols to be designed in order to carry out this colorful festivity in this town of Barcelona.
What is Torelló Carnival?
The Torelló Carnival, best known as the Carnival of Terra Endins (‘inland’), is one of the wildest carnivals in Catalonia and one of the most iconic in Spain. Here we’ll get to know more about the curious history behind this carnival, in which the only requirement to enjoy the show is going with the flow.
One thing you have to know about the Carnival of Terra Endins is its history, especially if you hear someone mention the Falatell. The fact is that the show cannot start without this magical scepter called the Falatell, which holds the power to choose a King and a Queen of the Carnival, and marks the start of the celebration. You just know that when a carnival involves magical objects, kings and queens, nothing can go wrong.
How is Torelló Carnival celebrated?
Like many great things in life, to really immerse oneself in the Torelló Carnival you have to know what the whole celebration is about. It’s not enough being there and having fun; to enjoy the full experience, there are certain terms and facts to keep in mind.
The Carnival of Terra Endins attracts 25,000 people on the opening day parade. We are talking about 14,000 residents capable of welcoming almost twice the population that day. Let the numbers speak for themselves: this ‘small’ but unforgettable carnival is one worth attending.
The Carnival of Terra begins with the King of the Carnival storming into the mayor’s office to become the lone ruler of the city during the entire carnival. But a week of festivities and debauchery puts an end to the King’s life every year, so his body is burned in the closing ceremony of the Carnival of Terra in an act called the Burial of the Sardine.
The best thing about this carnival is its large parade, and the reason why is so simple yet great at the same time: in the Torelló Carnival, there are no fences or barricades to keep the crowd from joining, so ending up in middle of carnival workers, dancers, performers, costumed characters and people is inevitable. You won’t just see the parade, but join the parade itself!
Where is Torelló Carnival held?
The Torelló Carnival takes place in the municipality of the same name, in the Osana region. All the events of this festivity are held in the old town square, which allows anyone to take part as there is no specific capacity limit.
The temperature ranges between a maximum of 35 ºC in summer, and a minimum of -10 ºC in winter. Between November and April frosts can be expected, so it is recommended to attend the celebration in winter clothing to avoid any inconvenience.
Torelló Carnival: the Characters
The Carnival of Terra starts with this ceremony. It is the event that gives rise to all the remaining celebrations during this carnival. Also, the Pullassu always happens on a very special date for the people of Torelló: on Fat Thursday.
On this day, the opening speech is given in the old square of Torelló followed by a ceremonial rite. As we are about to learn, the Pullassu is not just like any other tradition, but a fantastic, surprising and elaborated ceremony in which many characters are involved.
Margalef, Xapot & Fortiana
In the act, the giant Margalef, bastard son of the legitimate King of the Carnival, is tricked by the sorcerer Xapot, who uses Fortiana to seduce the giant with the sole purpose of cutting off his manhood, grinding it into a blood sausage, and mixing it in concoctions and secret potions that only Xapot knows.
If you start asking yourself all sorts of questions after reading this, we advise you to simply ignore them: just watch, learn and above all, enjoy the show.
Let’s recap. So far we know Margalef is the bastard son of the King of the Carnival, and the sorcerer Xapot wants to trick him by using Fortiana to seduce him, cut off his manhood, and then brew a powerful potion with it.
Now let’s introduce you to:
The Knight of the Great Pullassu
He is a long-legged knight whose task is to guard and fatten Margalef’s manhood, which is known as the Guita Tita, and is represented by a huge 4-meter long and 2-meter wide penis. The Guita Tita is essential for the potion Xapot wants to make.
He is the one who cuts off Margalef’s manhood. The executioner is a sinister being that you want to keep as far away as possible.
They are the subjects of Xapot and can be recognized by their black clothes and faces painted in white. They come together on stage when Xapot starts his ceremony after claiming Margalef’s manhood.
The Cabezudos (bigheads)
These characters can be found across the most famous carnivals in Catalonia. There are four, and each color has a meaning attached to it.
- Yellow: Female donkey pee from Solsona
- Red: Blood from the Virgin of Sitges
- Green: Diarrhea caused by food poisoning from Vilanova candy
- White: Semen from Torelló’s Guita Tita
Ladies and Homenots
The ladies and homenots have their own history, which is not attached to any of the characters and acts previously explained.
In the 80s, the night before the Torelló Carnival, a group of impatient young people who couldn’t wait another day for the start of the carnival, took to the streets to have fun wearing their sisters’, mothers’ and girlfriends’ clothes. In short, a bunch of young men dressed in women’s clothing.
A few years later, this improvised act became part of the culture and tradition of the Carnival of Terra Endins, and kept making more and more appearances to the point that the characters are now a distinguishing mark of the Torelló Carnival.
On this day you will see many women in the crowd, although some may have a deeper voice than you’d expect.
Torelló Carnival parade
The large parade is possible after months of hard work and dedication, money and time invested, and the desire to give a fantastic show to everyone who visits this great carnival. The parade has more than 20 floats carefully decorated and made with all the love and talent that those involved have put into them.
Each parade team has a float and a theme. The theme is usually not revealed until the big day, although nowadays it’s next to impossible to keep it a secret before the parade since all teams work together on their floats under the same roof.
The materials and the way of making floats is something that can only be learned in Torelló. Now that the floats are built in the same place, sharing resources and even ideas has allowed the teams to foster a sense of brotherhood, and while it is still a competition, everyone knows and values the collective effort each team has made.
What’s fantastic about this parade is that you cannot avoid getting carried away by the celebration as there are no fences or barricades to keep people from the parade. Little by little, you will feel more tempted to join. Before you know it, the gravitational force of the floats will pull you in, and by then it’ll be too late: you’ll be in the center of the Torelló Carnival itself.
The Carnival of Terra Endins also has a children’s section, a little something specially designed for the whole family. And let’s be honest, this carnival has quite a few adult-themed events, so it is better for children to have their own separate carnival.
This encourages children to develop a love for their own carnival and to ensure that the tradition will be cherished by future generations to come.
The children’s carnival is held on the Saturday of the week in which the main carnival is celebrated.
The Burial of the Sardine
The Burial of the Sardine takes place the Wednesday after the carnival, in a chapel located in the Cirvianum Theater. The assistants, known as the pescallunes, eat pork rinds and drink wine as a way to pay respect to the departed king.
The coffin of the Carnival King is moved in a funeral carriage drawn by 4 horses to its resting place, as Bishop Nicolás and the authorities of Torelló lead the way, all this accompanied by the funeral music of the Orchestra Sensafònica and singing by the Lloriana’s Young Choir.
The second-to-last stop of the late Carnival King is Casa de la Vila, where the church leaders give the Falatell back to the town authorities. This is a symbolic act that means everything has returned to normal, officially spelling the end of the celebration and letting everyone know that the party is over.
After this, the final act is having a sardinanada, and as you must have guessed, it is a feast in which all assistants eat sardines while the body of the King is burned. This takes place in the Vella Square, where the funeral pyre is located, and everyone gets to say farewell to the King of the Carnival by singing “The Flame of the Sardine”, an original song written exclusively for the event.
And that’s the end of carnival until next year.
Tips & Advice
- When going out in a team or group, remember that your behavior says a lot about you. As a member, your actions reflect your carnival group. So make sure to have fun, but don’t forget that you’re part of the group.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Yes, it’s a carnival and it feels great to let loose once in a while, but remember not to go over the limit. Keep an eye on your glass at all times and remember that drinking too much can ruin the party for you and everyone.
- Going to the carnival after having a meal can be very important. It will help you keep your energy up and absorb alcohol better.
- If you are not feeling well or had too much to drink, tell someone so that a professional can take care of you. And if someone needs your help, call 112 and assist them in any way you can until medical help arrives.
- Avoid fighting and antisocial behaviors.
- Water plays an important role in this kind of events. Make sure to stay hydrated, and if you drink alcohol, switch to water every now and then. Remember that alcohol causes dehydration, and headaches of a hangover are due to lack of water in the body.
- If you are between 16 and 30 years old, ask how to claim your free Torelló Carnival bracelet, available in the following events: the Pullassu, the Ladies and Homenots, and during the entire parade; and also available at Torelló establishments.
- Above all, this carnival is a large party without fear, sex assault, intimidation, harassment or abuse. Do not engage in non-consensual sexual activity with anyone. If you witness an assault, let someone know right away. Remember: No means No.
- There are designated points across Torelló called Lilac Points, which can be found at all the events. Lilac Points are places of information, prevention, detection and intervention in case of sex assaults that may occur during the celebration.
- For any emergency, call 112.
How to get to Torelló?
There are plenty of ways to travel to Torelló:
- By plane: Torelló is a municipality in the Osana region, located in Barcelona, where the Josep Tarradellas Bacerlona-El Prat Airport is. The flight only takes an hour and a half from there to Torelló.
- By car: If you take your car from Barcelona, you’ll make a one hour trip where you’ll travel 87.7 kilometers.
- By train: You’ll need to take the R3 and make a trip of approximately one hour and a half, depending on the place of departure.
- By bus: If you are just looking for relaxation as you travel to Torelló, you could take a bus that will drop you off in Vic, and then take another bus to your destination. This trip could take up to 1 hour and 40 minutes. With so many options, which one do you prefer?
Where to stay in Torelló?
Torelló has different establishments where you can stay as you enjoy the Carnival, one of its most famous celebrations where visitors from neighboring regions and cities come together.
- The Codina Tower: This one is a rural house from the 17th century with an old design that will make you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. This property is located at an altitude of 480 meters, right in the middle of an organic farm, and has six rooms with capacity of up to 15 people. As if that were not enough, the Codina Tower is a 90% self-sufficient house that uses clean and renewable energy since it produces four different types: wind, biomass, thermal and solar energy. Fantastic!
- Torres Hotel: In the center of Manlleu, 15 minutes from Torelló, is the Torres Hotel, a space for visitors to spend the nights while enjoying this lively city. It has 2 restaurants where you can taste a variety of traditional Catalan dishes, such as tapas and local wines. In addition, they offer breakfast buffets every day. Wonderful!
- Can Beliu: The four tourist homes in Can Beliu are part of a series of 17th century houses, but adapted to meet today’s needs. In its comfortable facilities you will find everything you need in the kitchen and bedrooms.
- El Quintà: This one is a rural house located in Tavertet, divided into two equal accommodations where convenience and comfort are never an issue. In the back, guests will find a pool to sunbathe for as long as they want. Most of the houses in Osona date back to the 1700s and are perfectly preserved, which has allowed them to be declared Cultural Interest Assets. Wow!
- Sant Quirze De Besora Hotel: The Sant Quirze Hotel is not only known for being one of the best places to rest after having such a fun day, but the establishment also provides areas to practice skiing or cycling, and it has wonderful view of the River Ter.
Places to visit while enjoying the Torelló Carnival
Places to visit while enjoying the Torelló Carnival
Clearly, the main attraction of Torelló is its carnival in February, but you can also take part in other activities at the different tourist places that Osona has to offer.
- Castell de Montesquiu: this castle dates back to the 9th century and is currently used for conventions, conferences, courses and work meetings; though it also offers guided tours and temporary art exhibitions.
- Bellmunt: The Bellmunt Sanctuary is located on top of a mountain range of the same name. From there, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Torelló in any of its two viewpoints, plus, you get a chance to try the traditional Catalan food in the restaurant of this magical sanctuary.
- Sant Pere de Casserres Monastery: This church of Saint Peter of Casserres was built in 1006, so countless stories echo in its halls as some fragments remain painted on the walls. It currently hosts a permanent exhibition where the life of the Casserres monks is relived by recreating several of their rooms, which are still very well preserved.
- Salt del Molí: If you visit Torelló on summer, you cannot miss the Salt del Molí, a waterfall of the Ges River and an ideal place for the kids. It’s time to enjoy with the family!
How safe is Torelló?
Torelló has low crime rates. Until November 2020, the city had reported less than 20 robberies, which allows it to portray a sense of safety to visitors and citizens alike.
While pickpocketing is very common in Europe, Torelló rarely reports this type of crime. Even so, during carnival season, it is recommended to attend celebrations without valuables since the number of people that gather for these events is the perfect scenario where theft of jewelry, purses, wallets and bags goes unnoticed.
What to eat in Torelló?
No trip is complete without tasting the local flavors and signature dishes of a place, and while Torelló is certainly unforgettable on its own, the experience can only get better by visiting the great restaurants this city has.
- Cal Pagès: If you are looking for something more than Spanish food, you have to visit Cal Pagès, where you can also taste exquisite Mediterranean cuisine and for a good price.
- L’ Engruna d’en Pousa: If you prefer take-out, L’ Engruna d’en Pousa is your best choice when it comes to delivery. The restaurant not only provides convenience to customers, but each meal is of the highest quality. You must try it!
- Kibo: As it name implies, this restaurant offers a great variety of Japanese food, such as sushi, and seafood such as lobster, salmon and oysters; and the best of all are its affordable prices. You better stop by!
- El Bistrot del Firal: If you are looking for a place where you are served by highly trained staff with an extensive and diverse Mediterranean menu, you have to visit El Bistrot del Firal. Not only will you get to enjoy the most delicious meals, but you also get vegan options for those looking for a meatless bite. Come visit them!
According to Skyscanner, the Torelló Carnival is ranked 13th in the Best Carnivals in the World listing, which shows that it is a celebration worth visiting if you are nearby or haven’t decided where to spend the next holidays. Come enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience!