Vila-seca celebrates its Festa Major Hivern (Main Winter Festival) around 17 January in honour of Sant Antoni Abat—or Saint Anthony the Great—the patron saint of Vila-seca.
The most famous event during the festivities is the Cós de Sant Antoni, or galloping horse races—declared a Traditional Celebration of National Interest—which are one of the most important professional events in Catalonia and, indeed, in all of Spain.
Each year, some 10,000 people head to the equestrian racecourse at Torre d’en Dolça Park to watch the competition. The modern-day races have their origin in the games and races that were organised after blessing the animals on the day of the patron saint of animals, Saint Anthony the Great. An opening address for the festival in 1876 is the first written proof of its celebration.
During the Festa Major Hivern other events with deep roots in the municipality take place, such as the Tres Tombs parade—traditionally ‘three turns’ around the streets—the traditional street parade and procession and the festival of fire, as well as the festival dances, live music concerts and several performances for families and children, rounding out the activity programme.
There are slews of cultural organisations in Vila-seca that all work hard and participate very actively in the town festival: Ball de Diables de Vila-seca (the Devils’ Dance of Vila-seca); Ball de Diables Infantil de Vila-seca (the Children’s Devil Dance of Vila-seca); the Cavall Alat de Vila-seca (Winged Horse of Vila-seca); the Cobla dels Ministrers del Comú (the Regional Minstrels ‘Cobla’ (large wind instrument band), the Colla Gegantera (group in charge of the town’s ‘giants’, huge puppets paraded through streets on people’s shoulders during festivals), featuring the giants Ton and Pineda Grove, Galceran de Pinós and Donzella and Tonet; the l’Esbart Dansaire Ramon d’Olzina (Ramon d’Olzina Dance Troupe), with its Ball de Bastons (traditional ritualistic weapons dance), Gitanes de Vila-seca (Gypsies of Vila-seca), Cercolets of Vila-seca (traditional dance) and the Valencians of Vila-seca; the Grallers (gralla, or shawm players); Trabucaires del Comú (blunderbuss fighters) and the Xiquets of Vila-seca.
The Winged Horse was added to the Festa Major Hivern in 2019 as a new feature in the popular procession. The structure, weighing in at 40 kilos and 1.7 metres tall, was conceptualised and built by Vila-seca sculptor and iron craftsman Antoni Mas.