We covered the basics of the Ceret Feria in our first post, in this one we move to the adult entertainment, looking at what’s on offer to get you tipsy and some fashion advice for dressing to impress at this Catalonian festival.
The Feria for Adults
There were sixteen bands listed in the official programme this year and they ranged from small quartets of traditional Catalan musicians to rock groups covering all of the rock classic library.
The entertainment is clustered around the bars and squares of the town, Place de la Republique, Place de Eglise and Place Pablo Picasso. As you turn each corner you can decide if the music is for you, find a place at the bar to listen in. From late evening you will find the bands being replaced by DJ’s who will perform their own mix of classic dance tunes, modern and some traditional French ‘bounce along to the song’ events to keep you in the party mood.
We visited the Feria on both Friday and Saturday nights, they were similar in terms of the entertainment on offer, but we felt this year the atmosphere was much better on the Friday night with more locals (French, Catalan and expats) than visiting tourists enjoying spectacle.
You can keep going drinking and dancing until your legs, liver or brain give out as the festivities run on well into the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings. On both nights we found music to our taste and managed to get drunk enough to take to the streets and do a few dance moves.
Feria Food and Drink
Don’t expect any fancy cocktails to be on offer, your drink choices are limited in bodegas to wine, beer, sangria and something called Jacqueline which was wine with a sweet fruit flavoured liqueur added. Food is also basic, but if you want to soak up the alcohol with barbecue fare (burgers, sausage, rouste (thin barbecued pork chops) and chips you will be more than satisfied. Prices are fair at 2.50 for a beer and 1.50 Euros for a glass of wine.
If you are in for the long haul though it could get expensive, so you could do what we did and took some of our own supplies of pastis and gin and tonic in our backpacks. Make sure you use plastic bottles and glasses or you will be unlikely to get in if your bag is checked on entry.
Alcohol, plus young (and old) people doesn’t have to equal trouble
Now you might think that with alcohol flowing all day that there would be a requirement to have a huge steward or security presence across the day to police the inevitable trouble that comes from mixing people with all day alcohol. The remarkable thing is that with the exception of a cursory bag check on the way into the town we did not witness a single police officer, steward or security guard on duty in the town.
Neither did we witness any trouble which would have needed any police attention. Yes there were many seriously and moderately drunken people (including ourselves) wandering the streets; but this did not transform itself into altercations. In fact the only bruising or bloodshed we saw was on the Saturday when one of the young bulls got the better of one of the inebriated blokes chasing it down the streets. I have been to similar events in the UK and the police and security presence is highly visible as are the incidents for them to intervene in. I can’t explain why this is so different but it is none the less remarkable for witnessing it.
Feria Traditions: the Clothing
No self respecting Feria attendee will be seen without the required neckerchief and a fedora hat. If you are going to go for the whole look you add to this a pair of Catalan coloured rugby socks (sometimes wearing odd ones is considered chic) and shorts. If your body is not past it and you are male, you can forego upper body clothing and show off your six pack. Not something we will do at our age, but we glad so many others chose to do so. Many of the women join in with the rugby socks but usually keep their t-shirts on.
For those that want to stand out further a little bit of fancy dress doesn’t go amiss; you can witness some part time cross dressers, men in spacesuits and even a gangs of sailors wandering weaving through the streets.
You can buy the official neckerchief (bandana) , Tank top (debardeur) and Panama hat at the tourist office if you want. Instead do it on the cheap like us and on the Friday night the Ricard sponsored DJ/compere’s will throw them into the crowd. You simply need to be silly or shout a lot to attract their attention, something that comes naturally to us.
The Grande Finale
As the events are scheduled to be as near to Bastille day as possible (14th July) it was fortunate this year that the final day on Sunday coincided exactly with Bastille day which meant that the festivities closed with a spectacular firework display at the local stadium.
At around 10pm everyone makes their way from the main town to the rugby stadium on the outskirts of the town to feast themselves on the pyrotechnic panorama that awaits. We were around some locals and they were muttering that they now knew where their high local taxes got spent. The sound and light display was enormously impressive, lasted around ten minutes and was a really spectacular end to a really fun weekend. In fact thats a lie, because it wasn’t the end.
If you still have any life left in you after the three days of fun, you can round the night off at the disco in the stadium grounds. We managed a couple of beers and a couple of dances before trudging off to find a bed to sleep in for the next two days to recover.