Sartorially speaking, Barcelona is a remarkably casual city. I remember getting mild shock when I first saw opera-goers dressed in jeans, and most women think the idea of dressing up is throwing on a colourful scarf. But once a year caution and that famous Catalan common sense are thrown to the wind for the Passejada amb barret (Walk with a hat).
Inspired by New York’s Easter Bonnet Parade along Fifth Avenue, two local milliners decided to organise a similar event here. Now in its 12th year, the format is the same as when it first started. Everyone meets at the top of the Rambla de Catalunya and when the clock strikes 12, starts strolling the kilometre or so to the end of the boulevard. That’s it. No live music or beer sponsors. Just a gathering of happy adults, kids and dogs high on the transformative, feeling of expressing yourself, in a fashion, at the onslaught of spring.
I first went to the Passejada about five years ago. Participants could have only numbered a couple of hundred and most onlookers thought we were part of a large wedding party. In 2015, over 1500 hat-wearers dressed the Rambla de Catalunya and this year there was probably double that. For the first hour or so we just mill around, taking shots of each other and strangers whose hat takes your fancy. Absolutely nobody is camera shy – that wouldn’t be the point.
From these snaps, you can see that there is plenty of gorgeously tailored headgear, but an old beanie or creation put together with plastic teacups and a glue gun is fine to. The Passejada is about feeling comfortable with and stepping out of your own skin - even just for a day.
(Thanks to M-A Gallagher and Scott and Jane Riley for the pics!)