Culture 19/04/2021

These are the 11 spaces where Sant Jordi will be celebrated in Barcelona

There will be stalls in front of shops and in limited spaces. Sales are expected to be 60% of a normal year

4 min
Sant Jordi, in an archive image
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Barcelona"Sant Jordi is back," said Patrici Tixis, president of the Cambra del Llibre de Catalunya, before announcing what the festival of the book and the rose will be like in 2021. There will be stalls and author signings in the street, but in 11 controlled spaces to restrict capacity, as already advanced by ARA in March. There may also be stalls in the street in front of bookstores and florists from Wednesday to Friday, thanks to a special decree of the mayor, but there will be no other institutions or political parties. "Sant Jordi will take place, there will be stops in bookstores and in the streets of Catalonia with perimeter controls," celebrated Carme Ferrer. The Procicat has endorsed this type of festival

"We have made a great effort so that books and roses can be in the street," said Tixis. "It will not be like 2019, but it will be much better than last year," he has ventured. In 2020 the festival could not be held and was postponed to July 23, a festival that did not match Sant Jordi by far but helped the sector. "It will be an orderly Sant Jordi, with safety distance and capacity controls. We will be very scrupulous. We hope it will be a success to strengthen bookshops and local florists. We hope to see the essentiality of the paper book, which in the pandemic has become essential for everyone's health," added Tixis.

In total, there will be 490 stalls in front of shops, 90 of them in Barcelona. In addition, there will be 180 stalls in Barcelona in controlled spaces, with 31 spaces for writers' signings. The schedule is from 9 am to 8 pm. The author signings will be done at separate tables from the sales stands and will avoid people doing different activities crossing paths. The 11 spaces where there will be stalls and book signings in the capital will be these:

  • Passeig de Gràcia (between Ronda Sant Pere and Aragó street)
  • Passeig de Lluís Companys
  • Jardinets de Gràcia
  • Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
  • Plaça Reial
  • Plaça de Valdívia (Illa Diagonal)
  • Plaça de Sants
  • Plaça de Sarrià
  • Palau Macaya (Centelles Gardens)
  • Plaça Universitat
  • Plaça Orfila
  • Pallars-Llacuna-Pujades in Poble Nou

The aim has been to decentralise in all neighborhoods to avoid the mobility of people, to ensure safety, but at the same time unique spaces have been sought. The meetings with the administrations and the different book sectors have been regular, said Marià Marín, technical secretary of the Gremi de Llibrers. "It is important not to forget the traditional places of the festival," he said, despite the fact that this year it cannot be held, especially on the Rambla de Catalunya and the Ramblas, where holding the festival would be "reckless". The first action of deconcentration will be that 90 establishments will have stalls from Wednesday to Friday to decongest establishments and gain space and time. They have sought unique spaces, where crowding can be controlled and visitors will always move in the same direction. Queue management and the arrangement of stops will be controlled by staff trained for this purpose. In Passeig de Gràcia there will be a dozen people to do this, for example. All spaces have a capacity of 30% of the total, but it varies in each case: in some places there may be 150 people circulating. All the stalls will be separate.

All over Catalonia there will be Sant Jordi in the street, but in each city there will be a specific space to do it. Each city council will have agreed on the place with Procicat, depending on its population and its characteristics. Lleida, Girona, Tarragona and Barcelona have their own plan, while a generic plan has been made for other towns, and a distinction has been made between those with over 5,000 inhabitants and those with fewer. The larger will be allowed to have stalls in front of bookshops and the smaller ones wherever they want, and associations or schools will be allowed to put up a stall if there is no bookshop in the village.

Sales more spread out

"Sales are advancing and we are doing very well because we cannot handle the madness people used to get for Sant Jordi," added Ferrer, bookseller at Empúries Girona. By maintaining the regional confinement, "it will be more difficult for some mountain and beach bookstores," said Carme Ferrer, because the people of Barcelona will not go away for the weekend as they would have done if Sant Jordi was on a Friday. "It favours the bookstores of Barcelona, it is clear," says the bookseller.

"It's been days since we noticed Sant Jordi was in the air. If we compare these first days of April with those last year, the statistics are through the roof, because everything was closed. Any comparison with last year is extraordinary," warned Patrici Tixis, of the Cambra del Llibre. Their aspiration is to reach 60% of the sales of two years ago, when turnover was €22.16m and 1.64 million copies were sold.

Florists expect to sell 50% of a normal year, about 3.5 million flowers and a turnover of €10m. "It is a year of change. They would be very good figures," said the Gremi de Floristes. "It is a Sant Jordi of three S's: security, sustainability and selection (in reference to the new varieties of flowers)". Florists have chartered out on Somfloristes.com where the shops and stalls will be, and warn that flowers will have to be booked to meet demand.

"We are making efforts to try to maintain cultural activity despite the difficulties, especially in the book sector, and it is unusual in Europe. In Belgium, everything has been closed since October," said the deputy mayor of Barcelona, Joan Subirats, who defended local purchases in bookshops. "We have suffered a lot but we have made it", added the Catalan Minister of Culture, Àngels Ponsa. "This highlights a book value chain that is strong and united," she said. "Sant Jordi shows us to the world with infinite force. It singles us out and makes us universal. That is why we are making this effort. We want to maintain it in times of pandemic thinking that next year will be better. We begin to walk towards a certain normality in cultural terms," said Ponsa, who wanted to spare a thought for political prisoners and exiles.

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