What’s on this April

Can there be a better month to visit the Costa Brava? I’m struggling to think of one. Maybe September, once all the summer crowds have gone and the sea is at its warmest. But April takes some beating, with the freshest tender green leaves emerging on the trees, thickly-blossomed almond and cherry trees dotting the fields, scarlet poppies and bright yellow wildflowers lining the verges and the scent of early jasmine on the air. There’s still a hint of snow on the Pyrenees and a slight chill in the air, but now that the clocks have gone forward and the days are ever longer you can really feel that summer is just around the corner. This year April sees not just one but two major events – Sant Jordi (St George, patron saint of Catalonia) on 23 April and, just before it, Easter week. Click on the links for more detailed information on both events. OUT AND ABOUT April is one of the very best months for hikers and ramblers… cool enough to strike out without breaking into a sweat yet warm enough to strip down to a T-shirt and build up a tan, and there are a number of great walks coming up in the next few weeks.
Cala Montjoi
Cala Montjoi
Concluding the season of seven walks organized by the Roses a Peu association, on 6 April there will be an organized walk from the glorious Cala Montjoi, site of the erstwhile world’s greatest restaurant, El Bulli, as far as Cadaqués. Walkers should meet at the Tren Roses Exprés stop in Plaza de las Botxes, Roses, from where the little road train will take you to the starting point. The 10 km walk, accompanied by an official guide from the Natural Park of Cap de Creus,  hugs the coastline before plunging off across the rugged landscape of Cap de Creus, with stunning views all the way. Participation is free of charge, but be aware that this is quite a challenging walk and not suitable for beginners. You’ll be relieved to know that, depending on weather conditions on the day, there will be either a bus or a catamaran laid on to bring you back to Roses. The walk starts at 9am and you can register in advance at the tourist office. On Good Friday, 19 April, there is an organized walk to the Chapel of Les Alegries just outside the town Lloret de Mar (just under 5 km), ending up with a Bunyolada – in other words, Easter doughnuts for all,washed down with sweet muscatel wine. Meet in front of the Town Hall at 9am.  Meanwhile, if you fancy a leisurely hour or two rambling through bucolic scenery, head for the Aiguamolls nature reserve, meeting at El Cortalet, the park’s information centre, at 11am on 7, 14 and 28 April as part of its Spring Sundays in the Park programme. The price of €5 for adults and €3 for children includes parking and the loan of a set of binoculars. Alternatively, jump on the Aiguamolls Trenet at 11.45am for a lazy two-hour tour of the park, €10 for adults and €8 for kids. Seats on the train are limited so call Jaume on 696 142 713 to be sure of a place. On Good Friday, 19 April, there will be a sunset tour of the park starting at 6pm from the Cortalet car park, and over Easter weekend (Friday to Monday inclusive) there are several guided tours a day. For orchid lovers, there’s a special event at 4pm on Saturday 20 April, with a talk by orchid expert Romà Simó followed by a guided field trip. There are two guided walking tours leaving Tossa on Saturday 27 April (Camí de Sant Ponç) and Sunday 28 April (the Megalithic Route), each costing €6, and we’ll post further information on these walks just as soon as it becomes available. On Sunday 5 May there will be an organized walk up to the stunning monumental complex of Sant Pere de Rodes from all the towns and villages of Cap de Creus, namely Cadaqués, Port de la Selva, Selva de Mar, Vall de la Santa Creu, Llançà, Vilajuïga, Pau, Palau-saverdera and Roses. The idea is for everyone to arrive more or less simultaneously at the monastery, where there will be an open-doors day as well as sardana dancing, live music, a rice lunch for those who want it, and a bus service back to your starting point. You can register at the tourist offices of any of the towns mentioned above; the registration fee is €4 if you just want a snack, or €15 if you intend to stay on for lunch. OTHER EVENTS Easter in L’Escala is, unsurprisingly, all about fishing. On 18 April you can visit the fish auction between 8am and 10am, including a fisherman’s breakfast, while on 19 April there is a guided tour of the port between 10.30am and 11.45am; on the same day there are all kinds of fishing-related workshops for kids between noon and 1.30pm, and for adults a seafood show-cooking special in the Port between 11.3am and 1pm. Not forgetting a special Easter chocolate show-cooking workshop on 21 April between 10am and 11.30am. For more details, contact the tourist office. On Sunday 7 April, at noon, there will be a guided tour of the Modernist Water Tower in Palafrugell, offering a spectacular bird’s eye view of the Empordà region as far as the mountain of Pertùs in France on a clear day, plus wine tasting courtesy of the Mas Geli winery in Pals. Price €5, adults only. Register in advance with vivid@costabrava.org. On 26 April, the village of Begur will be gloriously bedecked in plants, flowers and all kinds of greenery to celebrate Begur en Flor, along with live music, photography exhibitions, choral singing, guided tours and much more. The sixteenth Costa Brava Vintage Car Rally takes place in Palamós between 25 and 28 April, one of the best open-road Regularity events in Europe, whose points count towards the FIA Regularity Trophy. The event kicks off on Thursday 25 April with a Walking Tapas Rally at 8pm, then the two rally stages depart from the seafront at 3pm on Friday 26 and 11am on Saturday 27 April respectively. The event, which covers 1,000 km, showcases the best rally routes on the Costa Brava, and indeed in Catalonia, and is open to anyone with a car or motorcycle that is at least 30 years old, with many foreign teams taking part. The prize-giving ceremony will also be held on the promenade at 11am on Sunday 28 April. MUSIC On Sunday 7 April, at 5.30pm, the parish church of Sant Martí in Palafrugell is hosting a concert featuring Vivaldi’s Gloria and Stabat Mater by J.G. Rheinberger, conducted by Rita Ferrer. Tickets cost €10 and are available from Palafrugell’s municipal theatre or at the church one hour before the concert. One of the most popular operas of all time, La Traviata, will be performed at the Auditori Espai Ter in Torroella de Montgrí on Saturday 20 April at 9pm. Prices start from €32. At 7pm on 21 April, Adolf Pla will be giving a piano recital featuring works by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt and Mompou, in the lovely church of Sant Martí d’Empúries. Price €18, contact concerts@associaciopaucasals.cat for details and tickets. The Spanish guitar concert season kicks off at 9pm in the beautiful Modernist church of Sant Romà in Lloret de Mar on 25 April, with a performance by Tono Blasi. FOODIE CORNER Port de la Selva is holding its eleventh Asparagus Festival on 7 April, when Carrer Mar and Passeig del Mil·lenari will be lined with stalls featuring artisan products and a range of tapas created using fresh green asparagus, plus an appearance by the Port de la Selva giants Baldiri and Neus and the chance to sample the local cremat (flamed rum). Meanwhile, in Pals April sees the start of Rice Month, which runs until 12 May, featuring a whole range of different activities including trips on its little road train, El Xiulet, to the rice paddies and around the old town, special rice-based menus in all the local restaurants, guided tours based on the history and traditions associated with Pals’ long-standing rice-growing tradition (see full article in Eating & Drinking), cooking courses, food markets and much more. Contact the tourist office for full details. On the weekend of 19-20 April, Sant Feliu de Guixols plays host to the annual Mercat del Bunyol (doughnut market) which takes place all day in Plaça del Monestir. As well as the chance to sample the light-as-a-feather bunyols de quaresma, which are a classic Catalan treat around Easter along with a shot of ratafía liqueur, there will be food trucks, family activities, children’s workshops and more. See our recipe section for how to make your own bunyols at home. On 21 April, the twenty-first Peix de Roca (Rockfish) festival kicks off at 11am in Plaça Esteva i Cruañas in the exquisite village of Begur, with several local restaurants selling taster portions of their signature rockfish dishes along with a glass of cava or Inedit beer. The rockfish campaign continues through to June, with most of the locality’s restaurants putting on a special fixed-price menu for the occasion. The gorgeous seaside town of Tossa de Mar will be even more spectacular on the following weekends thanks to an amazing son et lumière experience using projection mapping techniques. Each night there will be two sessions in four languages and a new feature this year is the first National Tossa de Mar Mapping Competition with two categories: general and educational. The showings in English are all at 9pm on 19, 20 and 21 April; on 3 and 4 May, and on 17 and 18 May. Not to be missed!! To round off a beautiful month in Tossa, its Flower Festival – Tossa Flor de Mar – takes place between 26 April and 5 May – keep watching this space for more information as and when it is released by the tourist board. ORIGINAL VERSION MOVIES Torroella de Montgrí: Bel Canto, starring Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe, at 10pm on Friday 12 April; The Old Man and the Gun, starring Robert Redford, on Thursday 18 April at 10pm; Green Book, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, on Tuesday 23 April at 9.30pm; and On The Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones, on Friday 26 April at 10pm. Palafrugell: On The Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones, on Saturday 6 April at 7.30pm; Stan & Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, on Friday 12 April at 10pm; Green Book, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, on Tuesday 16 April at 7.30pm. Ocine Platja d’Aro: TBA; no information available when we went to press. Ocine Blanes: Dumbo, on Thursday 4 April at 8.30pm; Shazam! On Thursday 11 April at 8.30pm; The Aftermath, starring Keira Knightley, on Thursday 4 April at 8.30pm; and Avengers: Endgame, featuring an all-star cast, on Thursday 25 April at 8.30pm. Ocine Girona: Dumbo, on Thursday 4 and Tuesday 9 April; Shazam! on Thursday 11 and Tuesday 16 April; The Aftermath, starring Keira Knightley, on Thursday 18 and Tuesday 23 April, all at 8.30pm. EASTER PROCESSIONS AND PERFORMANCES:
Dance of Death
Dance of Death, Verges
Verges, 18 April (Maundy Thursday): the Procession of Verges and the Dance of Death is one of the most thrilling Easter representations in Catalonia and attracts huge crowds from far and wide. The medieval village provides an atmospheric backdrop in the evening as the sky darkens and the fearsome skeletons begin their spine-chilling dance of death. Roses, 19 April, 9pm: Holy Week procession starting from the church square; Castelló d’Empúries, 19 April, 6.30-8pm: Holy Week procession from Plaça de la Basílica; L’Escala, 19 April, 10pm: traditional Holy Week scenes in various locations around the town; Pals, 21 April: give yourself goose-bumps to the sounds of the Pals massed drummers, starting from 11am and moving around the town; Lloret de Mar, 19 April, 10pm from the church square; also in Lloret, on the morning of Palm Sunday (12 April), everyone brings their palms to the church to be blessed, as well as the much more long-standing tradition in Lloret of blessing branches of bay (or llor in Catalan… from where the town gets its name).

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