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Everything is ready for Sant Jordi 2023, which is set to be the biggest and most potent in the history of this festive day throughout Catalonia. Since it became established in the 20th century, April 23rd has become one of the most beautiful days in Catalonia, the celebration par excellence of culture and books, appreciation and love, and all of this with a distinct Catalan flavour, with the gifting of books and roses as the physical ritual of a tradition that also goes much deeper. With the recent pandemic-affected period having been left behind, we now have a year in which Sant Jordi falls on a Sunday, effectively giving the sense of a Sant Jordi weekend. The stalls selling roses and the open-air tables of books will appear outside stores on Friday 21st, and although in some of Catalonia showers are forecast on the Saturday, the books and flowers will really bloom across Catalonia's towns and cities on Sunday 23rd. Once again, Barcelona will organize its literary superblock in the Eixample, but this year the block will burst its own super-boundaries and stretch up into Gràcia and down into Ciutat Vella!

Ambient gentada Rambles BCN Sant Jordi 2019 Sergi Alcàzar
Photo: Sergi Alcàzar

The "literary superblock" for Sant Jordi 2023: where are the roses and book stalls?

Barcelona is to repeat the model of the literary superilla ("superblock"), which was a great success when first introduced into the streets of the Eixample district last year. This Sant Jordi 2023 an area of 154,000 square metres in the centre of Barcelona, a space equivalent to around 22 football pitches will be dedicated to literature and flowers! It's 17% larger than last year, and its location is best understood as being centred on the axis of the Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla Catalunya. The central part of the superblock, as in 2022, runs across the Eixample from downtown Gran Via to uptown Avinguda Diagonal, bordered on one side by Carrer Pau Claris and on the other by Carrer Balmes.

But this year the literary superblock expands with its axis continuing up from Passeig de Gràcia into Gran de Gràcia, and all the way up to Travessera de Gràcia. That's at its upper or muntanya end. At the lower or mar end, the axis continues into more familiar Sant Jordi territory, to reconquer the Rambla, as in the past, all the way to Plaça Reial. Thus, the great pedestrian artery Rambla will once again be filled with books, as it always used to be until being excluded from the Diada in the last two editions due to the pandemic. And as well, two other key central areas for Sant Jordi will be Plaça Universitat and Passeig de Sant Joan, which will concentrate all the activity linked to comics, graphic novels, children's and youth literature and the family audience.

And there are other axes of books and roses around the city too: Rambla de Poble Nou, Via Júlia, Plaça de Sarrià... So here's a map showing the main focuses for Sant Jordi 2023 in Barcelona:

In total, there will be 7 districts that will create spaces in Barcelona to celebrate the Diada de Sant Jordi. Apart from Ciutat Vella, Gràcia and Eixample as the most central points, Les Corts has doubled its space; Poblenou also has stands concentrated in two sections of the Rambla; and Sant Andreu and Sarrià also have stands in their district hearts. And in all neighbourhoods, local bookstores and flower shops tend to set up stands at their own front doors.

ambiente libros diada de Sant Jordi 2022 - Foto: Sergi Alcàzar
Barcelona consolidates the literary superblock for Sant Jordi 2023.  Photo: Sergi Alcàzar

The 'pregó', open doors and other activities for Sant Jordi 2023

April 23rd is known as the Diada de Sant Jordi. What does the Catalan word diada mean? It is simply a special festive day. The literary build-up has already been going on for days but the ceremonial part of Sant Jordi begins with the pregó or proclamation, which will take place at the Saló de Cent on Saturday 22nd April, and on this occasion the ceremonial address to launch the festivities will be given by the writer and cultural journalist Gemma Ruiz Palà. Then on April 23rd, the Diada will kick off with the traditional Sant Jordi breakfast, which will take place at 9:30am at the Palau de la Virreina on the Rambla. Sunday will once again be a day of open doors for several institutions and unique spaces in Barcelona, including the two administrative poles of Plaça Sant Jaume (the Ajuntament and the Palau de la Generalitat), the old modernista Hospital Sant Pau at the top end of Avinguda Gaudí, and the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion near the MNAC on Montjuïc, among others. And Gaudí's Casa Batlló will once again be adorned with a dress of red roses and will be witness to thousands of photos throughout the day. For Sant Jordi to fall on a Sunday gives it a slightly different character, because the day itself is not a public holiday. 

ambiente rosas diada de Sant Jordi 2022 - Foto: Sergi Alcàzar
The rose and book stalls will return to La Rambla this Sant Jordi 2023. Photo: Sergi Alcàzar

Sant Jordi 2023 in Girona, Tarragona, Lleida and other Catalan cities

Although Barcelona has traditionally been the focal point of the Diada de Sant Jordi, there have always been celebrations right across the country and this year they have been strengthened so that one of the most beautiful days of the year is just as intense over all of Catalonia's more than 900 municipalities. In the words of Booksellers Guild president Eric Del Arco, "explaining that one day a country goes to sleep with the streets empty and wakes up with them full of roses and books, and it ends after 12 hours with great joy, is unparalleled." Thus, all the Catalan capitals will also have prominent epicentres to celebrate Sant Jordi. Girona will once again have its focus in the Esplanada de la Copa and the Passeig de la Devesa, while Tarragona will gather bookstores in a specific area of the Rambla and Lleida will locate the space reserved for bookstores in the Avinguda Francesc Macià and the Rambla de Ferran, with spaces also intended for associations, organizations and political parties.

There will also be spaces enabled in Badalona, which holds its book fair all weekend, in Manresa in front of the Casino, Plaça Major in Vic, Plaça Vella in Terrassa and Plaça Santa Anna in Mataró. In other municipalities, such as Amposta, the concentration of books and roses will be in Plaça de l'Ajuntament and Carrer Major, while in Banyoles the area will be in Plaça Major and in Cerdanyola del Vallès the bookstores will have stalls next to their establishments while following a circuit. These are just a few examples of the great deployment that will take place this year on Sunday, April 23rd, which will be the largest in the entire history of Catalonia and the Diada de Sant Jordi with the greatest ever number of stalls.