A 'normal' Sant Jordi

After two years of being seriously affected by the pandemic, this year’s celebration of books and roses will be closer to what it was before coronavirus struck

Up to 7,000 stalls selling books and roses will bring the spirit of Sant Jordi’s Day to Barcelona and other Catalan cities and towns on April 23 as the annual tribute to reading and love attempts to celebrate its first “normal” edition since the pandemic began two years ago. The organisers in Barcelona say that they expect the number of stalls to match if not exceed those in the years preceding the pandemic, with the Passeig de Gràcia boulevard taking centre stage along with the city’s famous La Rambla on the other side of Plaça de Catalunya.

On the day – one of the most important in Catalonia’s annual cultural calendar, as it also celebrates the country’s patron saint, Sant Jordi – Passeig de Gràcia will be turned into what the organisers describe as a “literary superilla”. Referring to the Catalan word for city block (illa), the space reserved for the book and flower stalls will become a large pedestrianised area between the Gran Via and Diagonal avenues and will include sections of the streets that run parallel, Rambla de Catalunya, Pau Claris and Balmes.

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The spoken word

The day before Sant Jordi, on April 22 at 6pm, writer Imma Monsó will give the festival’s inaugural address in the Saló de Cent room of the City Hall. More writers can be heard between April 19 and 21 in a series of talks organised by Barcelona’s public libraries, beginning with Blanca Llum Vidal and Agustín Fernández Mallo on April 19 in the Disseny Hub Barcelona auditorium, followed by a conversation between Russian writer Maksim Óssipov and writer and translator Marta Rebón, and another chat between writers Marta Carnicero and Laura Gost.

A focus on young readers

Sant Jordi’s return to normality is marked by the return of complementary activities, not least the Món Llibre festival. This parallel series of activities, which will take place on the same weekend as the main festival, aims to introduce children to literature. They will be held at the CCCB cultural centre and various libraries around Barcelona, where young readers can get to know some of today’s leading authors of children’s books. At the same time, booksellers will begin early this year, with many setting up stalls outside their shops on April 21 and 22.

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