Calella, a hymn to Havana
If there is a landmark event in the world of Habaneras, it is undoubtedly the Cantada d'Havaneres of Calella de Palafrugell. For 46 years, on the first Saturday of July, this small coastal village in the province of Gerona is adorned from top to bottom to pay tribute to a musical genre deeply rooted in the fishing villages along the Catalan coast. And if it is a tribute to a genre as strongly bound to the sea as the Habanera, the stage has to be consistent with the spirit and character of the sea. Port Bo beach, with its pristine white seafront buildings, arcades facing the sea, traditional fishing boats beached on the sand ... perfectly meets these requirements. And when the first notes of the guitar sound, the atmosphere becomes particularly magical.
Over the years, the event has gained popularity beyond the province of Gerona. What began as a gathering of friends to sing in Can Batlle on any night of the summer of 1966, has become one of the emblematic dates of the summer festivals throughout Catalonia. The success of recent years, mainly promoted by live television, has raised the number of people attending from 10,000 to 40,000. It is therefore best to reach Calella in the morning to get both a parking space and a place with a view of the stage. Although undoubtedly the most exclusive 'seats' are on board the boats anchored off the beach. However, several large screens are installed in the vicinity of Port Bo so that nobody misses the show.
The beauty of this ancient fishing village of narrow streets makes it perfect for a stroll a few hours before the performances begin. Visit the craft market stalls at Passeig del Canadell, enjoy the atmosphere of the Plaça de l'Església and the Habanera Market as a starter before the main event at 10:30 p.m. with the music, striped jerseys and white shirts parading, and the smell of 'cremat' -the official drink of Havana evenings- spreads along the beach. Gradually the traditional songs will ring out until everyone, with their handkerchiefs fluttering in the wind, sing La bella Lola and El meu avi. A sailing essence and the echoes of stories from overseas in a postcard setting from other times.
Photos: Joan Deulofeu. Fondo Fotográfico del IPEP (Institut de Promoció Econòmica de Palafrugell)
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