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San Antonio

The biggest festival in Vilanova d'Alcolea is the San Antonio celebration, which is attended by thousands of people on a Saturday and Sunday midway through January. 

The celebrations originated in the 14th century. Highlights include the matxà, the tropell and the coca, which are notable for their beauty and unique nature.

In the beginning the bonfire is burnt, the horses are blessed and the procession sets off through the village streets. There, the riders and their horses have to cross the spectacular barriers of fire set up all along the route (the matxà). Once the procession is over, the race known as the tropell takes place, where everyone can take part and they must ride horses bareback. A representative from the local council leads participants to an unspecified point. From there, the race begins.

Since there is no defined route, riders plot their own way back to a pre-decided location. There, blessed coques (traditional pastries) are given to the participants who have made it all the way there on horseback. The winner gets a live chicken.

The distribution of the coques is meant to display the strength of each horse and the rider’s skill in trying to get the most coques. A dance is held after the coques are distributed. The next day, after the mass in honour of San Antonio, other races take place, again with a chicken as the prize.

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