La Trobada du Canigou
A lovely tradition to celebrate the Summer Solstice of St Jean around the 22nd June is the meeting of Catalans from both sides of the Pyrénées on the summit of the Canigou.
Troops of walkers and representatives of villages and towns throughout Catalonia, meet up on the Plateau des Cortalets , where they set up tents and prepare for a sleepless night!
The ultimate goal of the Trobada is to get up to the peak at 2,784m high, with bunches of wood to contribute to the huge bonfire prepared on the summit. This gathering is known as the ” Trobada ” (a catalan word meaning “meeting” or “reunion”).
Les feux de la Saint Jean
The Saint Jean fire
At midnight a flaming torch, kept throughout the year at the Castillet in Perpignan, is carried to the top of the mountain the and used to light a bonfire which can be seen all over the Conflent.
The next day, relay runners carry the “flamme du Canigou” down onto the plain to all the villages they pass through on the way to Perpignan.
In the evening, these flames light the “Focs de la Sant Joan” or “Feux de la Saint Jean”, fires that have been prepared in towns and villages all over the region.
With the arrival of the torch, and the lighting of the fires, the festivities begin.
In Perpignan, for example, this consists of music and dancing, fireworks and laser display and much much more but there is some kind of celebration in all the towns and villages.
It is a night for celebration and an important symbol of the unity of the Catalan culture