Festivities in Andorra: holidays and traditions

Few people know about Andorra's party itinerary, since it is a very small and local country. However, and although it may not seem like it, the Principality can be proud of having a great festive and cultural heritage. And it is because of its strategic location right in the heart of the Pyrenees between Spain and France (which makes it a frequent point of passage) and its immigrant and cosmopolitan past living with people from different places they have left a very varied legacy of traditions and holidays.

The National Archive of Andorra presented a new digital publication that wants to highlight this heritage of Andorran ancestors and publicize the festivals that have been declared of cultural interest and included in the general inventory of cultural heritage as intangible assets, since they are the expression of tradition rooted in time. They are unique, participatory celebrations of great vitality and creativity, reflecting their great richness and diversity.

The importance of a party goes beyond the cultural manifestation itself. It is the fruit of the transmission of knowledge and techniques that are passed from one generation to the other, which make it a cohesive and identity element. Currently there fifteen festivals included in the general inventory of cultural heritage as intangible assets and as festivals of cultural interest, which constitute milestones of the Andorran festive calendar:

List of the most relevant festivals in Andorra

  1. Cavalcade of the Kings of Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany
  2. Escudelles populars i Encants de Sant Antoni
  3. Encamp Carnival
  4. Harlequins of the Canillo Carnival
  5. Caramelles from Ordino and Sant Julià de Lòria
  6. Meeting of the Virgin of Canòlic
  7. Fallas of San Juan de Andorra la Vella
  8. Blessing of the Common Wardens of Setúria
  9. Roser de Ordino
  10. Blessing of vehicles of San Cristóbal de Anyós
  11. Santa Ana's Day of the Escaldes-Engordany Festival
  12. Festival of Sant Julià de Lòria
  13. Meeting of the Virgin of Meritxell
  14. Canillo cattle fair
  15. Andorra la Vella contest fair

Of all of them deserve special mention the Fallas de San Juan de Andorra la Vella since in 2015 Unesco included the celebration in the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity as one of the festivals of the multinational candidacy of the Summer Solstice Fire Festivities in the Pyrenees (fallas, Haro and blandones).

Major festivals of Andorra

In any case, the festivals go far beyond the list above and vary depending on the parishes. For example, the most populated urbanizations have their own local festivals. The most emblematic are those of Encamp, Andorra and Escaldes and Sant Julià, the latter in the list made previously and are usually parties that have performances by important fashionable musical groups with free access.

Then we leave the list of the major festivals in Andorra and their days in order, although they may change to postpone them until a weekend close to those dates:

Sispony festivalJune 23 and 24
Poble FestivalJune 24
Aixirivall festivalFrom June 25 to 27
Pal's major festivalJune 26 and 27
Major festival of Pas de la CasaFrom June 25 to 29
Parish festival of Sant PereJune 28 and 29
Ordino roser festivalFrom July 3 to 5
Cap del Carrer festivalFirst week of July
Anyós main festivalJuly 10 and 11
Soldeu festivalJuly 10 and 11
Canillo's main festivalFrom July 17 to 19
Erts major festivalJuly 19 and 20
Canillo's main festivalJuly 20th
Escaldes-Engordany festivalJuly 25 and 26
Sant Julià de Lòria festivalFrom July 24 to 27
Major festival of LlortsAugust 1st
Andorra la Vella festivalFrom August 7 to 9
Festival of l'AldosaAugust 10
Sornàs festivalAugust 15 and 16
Encamp festivalFrom August 13 to 17
La Massana festivalAugust 15 and 16
Santa Coloma main festivalAugust 21
Arinsal festivalAugust 21 and 22
La Cortinada and Arans festivalSeptember 4 and 5
Ordino's main festival16 of September
Ansalonga festivalSeptember 29th
Major festivals of Andorra

Calendar of holidays in Andorra

On the other hand, the base festive calendar of Andorra without taking into account the major festivals remains in 2022 as follows, although they can change from year to year by mandate through the BOPA:

January 1End of the year's party
January 6Feast of the Magi
January 7Festival of the Patron Saint of Sant Julià de Lòria, only in this parish
January 17Feast of San Antonio, only in La Massana
January 20San Sebastián, only in Ansalonga
February 15Carnival
March 14Day of the constitution
April 2Holy Friday
April 5Easter monday
May 1stLabor Day
May 24Pentecost Monday
May 29Canòlich's Day, patron saint of Sant Julià, only in this parish
June 14Commemoration of the creation of the parish, only Escaldes-Engordany
June 24Feast of San Juan, Encamp
June 26 and 27Festa del Poble de Encamp, only in Encamp
June 29San Pedro, only Pas de la Casa and El Tarter
July 4thRoser Festival, Ordino
July 5thRoser Festival, Ordino
July 11Roser de La Massana, only in this parish
July 25San Jaime, in Escaldes, Ransol, Aldosa and Els Plans
July 26Santa Anna, Escaldes
August 15thAssumption Day
August 16thSan Roque, only Encamp, Canillo and La Massana
August 24Sant Bartomeu de Soldeu, only in Soldeu
September 8thDay of Nostra Senyora de Meritxell
November 1stAll Saints
November 30San Andrés, only in Arinsal
December 8Immaculate Conception
December 25thChristmas
December 26Saint Esteve
Holidays not counting major holidays

It is also important to note that business and holiday calendar may vary Depending on the entity for which you work and the conditions set in the contract itself, this should only serve as a reference.

Most important Andorran traditions

Following the Andorran Government guide to festivals of cultural interest, have:

  • The Cavalcade of the Kings of Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany: organized jointly since 1998, it is without a doubt the arrival of the Kings more lucid and more luminous than those that are celebrated in the whole Principality and full of people to overflow the two main arteries of these parishes, Meritxell avenue and Carlemany avenue. The joint organization of the Parade includes the visit of the Royal Page on January 4 and the arrival of the Kings on January 5; It mobilizes about 600 people, including organizers, collaborators and participants, the vast majority of whom do so in a voluntary and disinterested way, and up to eighteen floats parade.
  • The popular "escudellades" and the charms of San Antonio: The day of San Antonio (January 17) is a very celebrated and deeply rooted holiday in traditional Andorra. San Antonio is known as the patron saint of animals and his dedication is directly related to the healing and fertility of livestock, domestic animals and also pack animals, which is why he is also the patron saint of muleteers. The agricultural and livestock Andorra that day was not made to work the cattle, if it was not in exceptional cases, and they were given an extraordinary feed.
  • Encamp carnival and the Osa party: of all the Carnival celebrations in Andorra, the one in Encamp is the most popular. The main dishes are two traditional carnival farces: the trial of the smugglers, which takes place on Sunday afternoon in the Plaza de los Arínsols, and the dance of the Osa, which is performed on Monday afternoon in the parking lot Prat del Areny. Can read more about both (in Catalan) here.
  • The Harlequins of Canillo: The harlequin is a character that symbolizes a true carnival masquerade with the aim of reigning the disorder that characterizes the time of Carnival, that is, the joke, debauchery and excesses that preceded the abstinence days of Lent. Small and young people make parades dressed as this character, although with the passage of time their prominence has changed: nowadays they parade on top of a float through the streets of the parish and are present in all activities, in the 20th century they were the real ones owners of the party in every way.
  • Les «caramelles» of Ordino and Sant Julià: They are songs sung in the streets on Easter Day by groups of people who receive money from the people in exchange. In the Lauredian parish they are held on the Sunday following Easter Sunday. Choral groups maintain this tradition. The groups of caramellaires walk the streets of the town, stop under balconies or in squares, sing songs and collect donations from the people with a basket or with the pole, a long stick at the end of which hangs the basket adorned with ribbons. of colors, which makes it reach the balcony for the neighbors to deposit some money.
  • The meeting of the Virgin of Canòlic: In homage to the Virgin of Canòlic, patron saint of Sant Julià de Lòria, the Canòlic festival is a day of pilgrimage and adoration of the Lauredians to the Virgin of Canòlic, but for several years the celebration has lasted until after the first week of June. It is a day considered brotherhood and religious, which appeals to the feeling of community.
  • The fallas of San Juan de Andorra: although they have nothing to do with those of Valencia, they are quite interesting. The burn of fallas is a traditional and popular festival that takes place on June 23, the night of San Juan. It consists of the elaboration of a falla by the participants, who turn it on, shake it and spin it vertiginously until they create large fireballs. The burning of fallas is a lively festive expression and it is in Andorra la Vella where it is most deeply rooted and where the largest group of fallaires is that makes it possible.
  • The Roser de Ordino: El Roser is really the biggest festival in the town of Ordino. It is celebrated on the first weekend of the month of July and the most traditional acts are the fold of the rose and the popular dances performed by the Esbart de les Valls del Nord after mass on Sunday. Over the years, religious events have given way to more secular activities, and it has become a reference party for youth from all over Andorra. There are four days in which the maintenance of some traditions is combined with dances at night, children's activities and popular meals.
  • The blessing of the common guards of Setúria: The traditional blessing of the cattle of Setúria takes place in the month of June, without a fixed date, since it depends on the weather and the state of the pastures. It takes place when the ranchers of the parish of La Massana raise the larger cattle at the same time to the high mountain pastures, where a cowboy is in charge of watching over the whole summer. The fact of being all in the same place and on a specific day turns this event into a party. The meeting place is the mountain of Setúria, in La Massana, and the village priest blesses the fields and cattle. Then, a meal begins with all the ranchers and their families in which the authorities of the parishes of La Massana and Ordino and the Government also attend.
  • The blessing of vehicles of San Cristóbal de Anyós: On July 10, Anyós celebrates the blessing of automobiles, motorcycles and all kinds of motor vehicles in honor of the patron saint of motorists and protector of travelers, San Cristóbal. The festival coincides with the celebration of the town's Fiesta Mayor. At the foot of the church, Anyós celebrates the ritual of blessing cars, in which all the inhabitants of the town, those of neighboring towns and parishes, and some tourists and visitors who expressly attend, take part. It consists of the parish priest sprinkling the approaching vehicles with holy water so that they can enjoy the protection of Saint Christopher throughout the year.
  • The day of Santa Ana of the Festival of Escaldes-Engordany: Santiago and Santa Ana are the patrons of the parish and their feast is celebrated on July 25 and 26, respectively. The origins of the celebration are linked to Marian devotion, since Saint Anna was the mother of Mary, the Virgin. She is the patron to avoid poverty, that of carpenters, housewives, grandmothers, that of lost things, that of miners, that of mothers and workers in general, and the patron of pregnant women. .
  • The Festival of Sant Julià de Lòria: There are many and diverse activities that take place in the last days of July in the Lauredian parish, but it is the dances that have a special role as expressions of the most lively folklore. The dances and their music are the fruit of the social imagination and therefore have a great social and identity value. In the case of Sant Julià de Lòria, the Pasa, the Cerdà dance and the Marratxa dance stand out, which take place on the Monday of the Major Festival.
  • The meeting of the Virgin of Meritxell: September 8 is the celebration of the Virgin of Meritxell, a national holiday. Over the years it has become a symbol of identity and belonging. Throughout the day the religious acts of devotion to the Virgin typical of the Marian cult, which cause an intense traffic of visits to the Sanctuary, are combined with family and brotherhood activities scattered throughout the territory. The central act takes place at noon with the Eucharist given by the archbishop and co-prince of Andorra, accompanied by all the priests of the parishes and with a notable presence of the country's political authorities.
  • The Canillo cattle fair: The Canillo Cattle and Crafts Fair is held on the first Sunday after October 16. A score of cattle houses in the parish exhibit the best cattle. Today's fair wants to commemorate the one that was held before the 1960s in Canillo, which was used for the sale of cattle and was held for two days, on October 16 and 18. It is a fun day that aims to give visibility to livestock and bring it closer to both the people of the parish and the visitors who come from the rest of the country. It has become one of the most participatory in Canillo.
  • The Andorran cattle competition fair: On October 27, the Andorran Cattle Competition Fair is held in Andorra la Vella. The cattle houses of the country expose their cattle and can participate in a national contest by presenting the animals that are registered in the Padral or registry of rental animals. The contest includes up to 32 sections with prizes for the best cattle, horses and sheep depending on the breed, age and type of breeding.

In conclusion

Holidays are expressions of culture which, when they adopt a community dimension, become a milestone on the festive calendar. Each year a series of festivals are held which, due to their roots in time and the maintenance of some key elements of the celebration, are perceived as part of the tradition, although the history of each festival often allows us to identify changing aspects and meanings. new. The evolution of the festivities is a flash of social transformations, and it is their ability to adapt to social and cultural changes that allows them to stay alive and become a central celebration for communities.

The customs, the clothing, the food, the dances, the dances and the song book are key elements of the party. In the second half of the last century, popular productions aroused great interest and led to the appearance of various associations that safeguard music, dance and dance, which today are part of the celebrations. The dances and music show a living folklore as a result of the social imagination, which is part of our intangible heritage and has a great social and identity value that undoubtedly stimulates creativity.

Andorra, like most countries, nations or regions, has quite a peculiar intangible heritage, including the festivities. Given that it is a country highly dependent on tourism, it is of marked importance to maintain the traditions, but also to modify and adapt them to the new times in such a way that they preserve their identity value and attract the interest of both locals and foreigners. It is a good way to follow the transformation started since the beginning of the century.

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Festivities in Andorra: holidays and traditions
Jose Sanchis, Abast Technology and Systems Specialist, Andorra Insiders
Jose Sanchis

ABAST Technology and Systems Specialist

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Andorra Insiders is an information platform about Andorra managed by ABAST, an Andorran professional consultancy firm for legal, tax and accounting services specialized in establishing people and businesses in the Principality of Andorra. More information here.

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