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CULTURE

Why you should visit Barcelona’s quirky egg dancing festival

Have you ever heard of Barcelona's bizarre egg dancing festival? This year, this odd tradition has even been declared a Heritage Festival of National Interest. Here's everything you need to know.

egg dancing festival
Ou Com Balla festival in Barcelona. Photo: Esme Fox

Every June, the city of Barcelona celebrates the L’Ou Com Balla festival, held in conjunction with Corpus Christi, which is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday in commemoration of the Last Supper. 

This year it runs from June 16th to June 19th, 2022, with decorations and events on in various locations throughout the city. 

Roughly translated as ‘How the egg dances’, L’Ou Com Balla is one of the region’s quirkiest festivals, along with the correfocs (where fire work-wielding devils run through the streets). The festival is only held in Barcelona and its origins date back to between the 15th and 17th centuries according to different historical records. 

Several places in Catalonia and in the rest of Spain, such as the coastal town of Sitges, mark Corpus Christi with giant carpets made of flowers and petals spread throughout the streets. While you can see a few of these in Barcelona, the Catalan capital celebrates a little differently. 

Here, the flowers decorate the public fountains found in many squares, cloisters and gardens across the city. And in the middle of these elaborately decorated fountains sits an egg. 

Pushed up by the force of the water, the eggs seem to almost dance in the spray, creating a beautiful, hypnotic, if not slightly comical scene.

The trick to make it dance is to blow the egg yolk and white out of the shell through a tiny hole made in the bottom and leave the whole shell intact. 

You can see the dancing eggs in fountains across the city in locations such as Barcelona Cathedral, the Frederic Marès Museum, the Marítim Museum, Casa de l’Ardiaca and Palau Lloctinent, as well as in 16 others you can see here

This means that it’s also a chance to get to visit little-known squares in palaces, churches and other places you can’t normally access without paying a fee. 

This year is set to be a little different as Barcelona will be celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Corpus Christi procession.

2022 is the first year that Barcelona’s Corpus Christi celebrations have been proclaimed as a Heritage Festival of National Interest too.

See how the egg dances in Barcelona. Photo: Esme Fox

There is currently an exhibition of the history of the festival on at the Capella Reial de Santa Àgata de Barcelona.

As well as the dancing eggs on the evening of June 18th 2022, from 6:30pm onwards there will be a parade of gegants through the Old Town, Catalonia’s traditional giant puppets. Each neighbourhood in Barcelona has its own specific giants who represent them. 

There will also be dancing and fireworks on in front of the Ajuntament/Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). 

On June 19th 2022, there will be the Corpus Procession with yet more giants, acrobatics and a special mass at the cathedral. 

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CRIME

How Barcelona is once again Spain’s pickpocket capital

The theft of a rucksack caught on camera during a TV interview has put the focus on the problem of thievery in the Catalan capital, a trend which has returned in full blast following the end of Covid-19 restrictions. 

How Barcelona is once again Spain's pickpocket capital

Anyone who’s visited or lived in Barcelona knows how important it is to keep an eye on one’s belongings, especially while on public transport or in the city centre. 

The metropolis of 5.6 million people is particularly notorious for being the pickpocketing capital of Spain.

Barcelona is in many senses a victim of its own popularity, with a study in July 2022 crowning it the most visited city in Europe this summer. 

One of the consequences of this is that Barcelona has become a goldmine for low-level criminals who not only exploit the abundance of distracted tourists exploring the city’s beautiful sights, but also the fact that Spanish law allows them to steal goods worth less than €400 and not face a prison sentence if caught.

The issue was encapsulated in near-scripted style when during a recent TV interview in which a tourist was singing the praises of the Catalan capital, a thief is seen in the background picking up a rucksack and walking away with it.

Between January and June of 2022, 36,386 hurtos took place in Barcelona, according to the Spanish government’s latest Crime Report

The word hurto in Spanish encompasses different non-violent forms of stealing other people’s property, from pickpocketing to stealing from shops or burglaries. 

This equates to 200 reported non-violent robberies a day in Barcelona.  

During the first three months of 2022, Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra wished to stress that the 17,000 non-violent robberies committed in Barcelona were “far” from the levels seen in 2019, before the pandemic’s lockdown as well as domestic and travel restrictions which resulted in fewer locals and tourists whom to rob in 2020 and 2021. 

They did however acknowledge that the data suggested that there was a return to “normality” vis-a-vis such felonies. 

As things stand, the 36,386 non-violent robberies recorded in the first half of 2022 are far lower than the 67,637 that were reported during the first six months of 2019, a record year for crime in the Catalan capital, as hurtos shot up by 40 percent compared to 2018 figures. 

But the rise has been even sharper in 2022, with a spike of 79.2 percent in the number of non-violent robberies during the first half of the year. When data for July and August is included in the next report, the increase could be even more dramatic.

Worryingly, the rate of violent crimes has also shot up by 41 percent. There have been reports in the Catalan press and videos shared online showing how organised gangs are now focusing on stealing jewellery and luxury watches from passers-by, violently yanking the items off the victims in broad daylight. 

As for burglaries, Barcelona is not the city with the highest rate of break-ins in Spain in 2022, according to Spanish insurance company Estamos Seguros, but it is the city where the value of the items stolen by burglars is on average highest. 

Pickpocketing remains the most common form of non-violent robbery in the Catalan capital however, with reoffending criminals unfazed by being apprehended by police. 

READ ALSO: How a crime wave in Barcelona is turning residents into citizen crime fighters

A change to Spain’s Criminal Code implemented in July 2022 which will see reoffending thieves who steal goods worth less than €400 stand before a judge may help quash such impunity.

It’s worth noting that non-violent robberies have increased by 51 percent on average across Spain in 2022, but Barcelona once again stands out as the city where pickpocketing and other forms of stealing is rife, higher than in other big cities such as Madrid and Valencia where non-violent theft is also an issue.

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