The Sant Antoni festival in Ascó encompasses several symbolic elements that make it unique. Besides the religious side of the celebration, which revolves around the devotion to the Saint as the protector of animals, another essential aspect that characterizes the celebration are the animal races and traditional games.
The traditional horse and donkey races
The traditional horse and donkey races are the only ones in the area that have never stopped happening. They take place three of the four days that the festival lasts; the first two races are held at the Fontxinxella horse circuit and the third race at Clots Street, as it was done in the past. It is a straight and steep street located in the middle of the village which, on the occasion of the festival, is exceptionally filled with soil so that animals can run more easily.
If you can only attend one race, we recommend that you do not miss the one in Clots Street on the last day of the festival: you will go through an authentic experience! Locals stand on the balconies on both sides of the street, filled to the brim with people. To the cry of “Que Sant Antoni mos guardo!”, (Sant Antoni protects us), the race starts along with the music played by the local band. Horse races are impressive for their speed but the donkey races are the most fun! Donkeys go from side to side and sometimes they even turn around and go in the opposite direction of the finish line.
Ascó has also managed to keep the traditional prizes for the winners of the races. The first two winners get a rooster each and the third one gets a huge onion, in addition to money (a reward that was added later).
Although they have only been included in the program for about twenty years, the traditional games in the main square (plaça de l’Església) have become one of the most awaited events of the festival, especially for kids! During the afternoon of the third day of the festival, the main square is filled with traditional Catalan games! Kids and adults are all welcome to play traditional bowling or the Catalan version of piñata with a ceramic pot, or take part in a stone race. You’ll even get the chance to get on a donkey and try to grab as many ribbons as possible with a pitchfork! After playing a few games,
you can enjoy a very typical snack. If you are coming with kids, you can not miss it!
Would you like to attend one of these races? If you want to know more about the festival, here are two more articles that you might like: Sant Antoni Festival in Ascó: the Religious Side and Sant Antoni Festival: the Social and Festive Side.