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The Santa Tecla Festival in Tarragona takes place from 15 to 25 September each year. It is the city’s most important festival and has been recognised as a Traditional Festival of National Interest by the Government of Catalonia, and a Festival of State Tourist Interest by the Spanish state. A great number of different entities and local cultural groups, in addition to the city council, organise hundreds of activities. The result is a spectacular blossoming of local action, which has given Santa Tecla huge acclaim in the world of traditional Catalan culture.

The cult of Santa Tecla began hundreds of years ago, although it wasn’t until the period of the “Reconquista” (718 – 1492) when the festival began to take on its embryonic form that still remains today, using the streets as an essential element of the festival.
The growing expansion of the celebration was affected by a crucial event, which had a great influence on the development of the festival. Relics - the arms of the patron saint - arrived from Eastern Antioquia in 1321. The city prepared a magnificent and splendorous welcoming ceremony, which later became the standard by which the festival was prepared over subsequent years. For the first time ever, all the pillars that formed the basis of society – politicians, the church, the army and workers – came together in the streets of the city, claiming it as their own. From then on, the festival took on a greater or lesser degree of importance, depending on the historic moment taking place. The arrival of democracy in 1975 turned the Santa Tecla Festival into a hugely popular celebration for all local citizens in Tarragona.
The essence of the Santa Tecla Festival can be seen in the dancing, mythical and folkloric animals, processions, allegorical representations and “castells” – human castles – that characterise the traditional and folkloric processions in the city. At the same time, the festival brings together the latest developments in rock, theatre, film and parties.
The morning parades – with the Catalan flute players and drummers, the firework display on the day of Santa Tecla, the “tronades” (fire cracker explosions) and the canticles sung in the cathedral are central elements of the festival toady. Legendary figures have grown up around these ritual-like events, such as the Magí de les Timbales (the Drummer Magician), the Muslim giants, the black giants and the old dwarfs.

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