THE SALT FESTIVAL
In 1997, coinciding with the third centenary of the Alfolí de la Sal, the Salt Festival was created to commemorate the fishing and salting origins, the relationship of an entire town with the sea and to transmit this world to future generations. In 2016, the Generalitat declared it Festive Heritage of Catalonia. In 2017, 20 years on, the Alfolí has been refurbished as L’Escala Museum for the people of the town.
The Salt Festival is held on the beach of the former port of L’Escala on the third Saturday of September, around the time of the autumn equinox, when the sardine fishing season finished, the families of fishermen who went to sell things on other beaches on the coast returned and preparations for the grape gathering started.
The festival shows all the essential features of the everyday lives of the families of fishermen in L’Escala such as the trades, dances, songs and cuisine. The central events start at 17:00 with a show of up to 27 maritime trades recreated by over 200 people of every generation, dressed in garments from the early 20th century, and it culminates with the arrival of the salt vessel and the Dance of the Dragon. The festival ends at 21:00 with the electric lighting being turned off to make way for the entrance of the vessels with their sales lit up as a sign of a good fishing day, making it one of the most emotional moments.
Over the years, music has become an essential component of the festival, as it starts with a concert by the local choir, the Cor Indika, and finishes up with a traditional end of festival dance. Popular music can be found in the habaneras, tavern songs, children’s songs for playing games, etc.
The task of recovering the oral memory of the Salt Festival is so important and has such an impact that we are currently working to get it recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.