The Concurs takes place only every two years and Tarraco Arena Plaça’s capacity is limited, but fortunately there are plenty more opportunities to see “castells” live. In fact, there are around 800 different performances all over Catalonia every year, most of them from April to October, usually on the weekends. Here you will find information about performances in Tarragona and here the general calendar of performances all over the country.
Most performances take place in the streets and squares of towns and villages, often linked to local festivals. Generally two or more “colles” participate, and they take turns to build towers through three rounds, with the option to repeat if one tower is not achieved. The performance ends with farewell “pilars”.
“Colles” can be differentiated by the colour of their shirt and their badge, while all “castellers” share white trousers and a black sash, a “faixa”. A red, white-spotted bandana completes the traditional uniform.
“Castells” are raised to a specific musical tune –“toc de castells”-, played with gralles (a wood instrument) and drums, which follows the pace the “castell” is being built. The music informs people in the “pinya” (who keep their head down) on how the tower is being executed.
The aim is to build the tower until the “enxaneta” gets to the top and raises the hand, to load the tower (“carregar”) and then dismount all of it, to download it (“descarregar”). Sometimes, though, towers may fall (around 3%) with climbers landing on the “pinya”. If the tower falls after being loaded it is considered still valid, but with less value than if it had been completed. Also, towers can be disassembled before they are loaded if problems are detected to avoid a possible fall.
If you attend a performance, take into account that they can last two hours or even more. Thus, take precautions regarding heat and sun, especially in the summertime. If you want to appear as someone who knows what’s going on, take into account also that once the tower starts climbing (once you hear the music playing), you should not clap until the “enxaneta” raises the hand.
Finally, you will see that members from other teams or even members from the audience might help in the “pinya” or base. You can do that, too, but before it is necessary that you speak to the “castellers” so that they provide you with a minimum of safety instructions and they place you at a proper position. We can guarantee you an exciting experience, but the most important thing is that you enjoy it safely and responsibily.
Related to this, it is important to remark that the towers that are built in a performance are the result of hours of rehearsal. “Colles” generally rehearse twice a week. Rehearsals take place in the evening, in their own headquarters, and sometimes it is possible to attend them, either with an organized guided tour or simply by letting yourselves by there.