Every spring Girona, the captivating capital of Catalonia’s Costa Brava, gets decked out in flowers for the Temps de Flors. From May 13 – 21, 2017, Girona’s picturesque Old Town will be brimming with fanciful florals that fill its monuments, squares, churches, parks and shop windows. Many private courtyards and gardens, usually closed to the public, open to display floral creations. Complimenting the flowery spectacle are superb music, cuisine and events.
2017 marks the 62nd Temps de Flors, which continues to grow in size and popularity. The festival is a communal affair – in addition to professional florists and designers, local organizations, schools and businesses create and maintain the hundreds of floral installations. In fact, they compete for awards based on originality, design and depicting the festival’s theme.
In addition to hundreds of ingenious floral displays, the Temps de Flors includes lots of events and entertainment. There are flower markets, art and craft fairs, floral art workshops, museums offering free admission and nighttime hours, yoga and meditation sessions (including floral mantras and live music), and screenings of floral-themed films at the city’s Museum of Cinema.
Music plays a huge role in the festival with concerts of chamber music, Jazz, opera, folk dance, choral recitals and lots of street musicians. Coinciding with the Temps de Flors is the A cappella Festival, featuring local and international singing groups. Most performances are free.
Festivalgoers can participate in several competitions, including contests for flower arranging, plants, cakes, digital photography, Instagram photos, and amateur short films created with mobile devices.
Girona is known for its fine cuisine, so naturally, food is an important element in the festivities. Many restaurants concoct special menus with flowers as a component. At La Calendula, a restaurant focused on cuisine made with fresh florals and plants, chef Yolanda Bustos creates seasonal menus paired with Catalan wines. (I can personally vouch for the delicious food and pink flower beer).
Visit the Temps de Flors
Girona is approximately 85 km (53 miles) northeast of Barcelona. It can be reached by frequent trains (just 37 minutes from Barcelona via the new AVE line). During the festival, RENFE has increased service from Barcelona and offers a special discount of 35% in all AVE trains and RENFE Avant Girona. Bus service is also available from Barcelona airport and city center (less frequent departures than the train). Girona airport, a hub for discount airline Ryanair, is just 11 km out of town and reachable in 25 minutes by hourly bus.
The Temps de Flors has become very popular. On weekend mornings, buses arrive with huge tour groups who move en masse, clogging the narrow streets and indoor sites. In fact, during my visit long lines formed outside popular sites like the Arab Baths and cathedral cloisters before 9:30 AM. To avoid the crowds, try to visit the festival on a weekday or tour the favored sites in the evening.
Girona offers free Wi-Fi in the Cathedral Plaza and Plaza of the Apostles.
Walking tours are available, offering details about the festival and city (check with the TI for schedule and reservations). Those who prefer to tour independently can download free Audio Guides for their smartphones. The mp3 guides provide commentary on key areas and are available in four languages. They are also accessible via Girona’s free mobile app for Android & IOS.
As with most festivals, Girona’s hotels will fill up fast. One should make hotel reservations as early as possible. A terrific option is renting an apartment or villa from Charming Villas Catalonia. They have properties in Girona, just outside the city, and throughout the Costa Brava (which should definitely be explored). I was fortunate to stay in a few of their stunning properties and highly recommend them. Note: while my stay was complimentary, the opinion expressed is my own.
Big thanks to the wonderful folks at Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona for their assistance to experience this magical festival.