Traditional Catalan raft race hit by drought

Not much chance of staying dry in this raft race Credit: Raiers Pobla

Drought can be blamed for many things, but not often for disrupting a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity tradition.

This is exactly what has happened in Catalonia where from many years local people in the region of Alt Urgell, in the province of Lleida have celebrated the fact that their ancestors used to ship logs down the river.

Race moved from summer to spring

Traditionally, the Baixada dels Raiers rafting race on the Segre river took place in the summer but because of the lack of rain, for the past two years it has not been possible to guarantee a strong enough flow, so the race has taken place much earlier and in 2024 it was moved to March 30.

The concept is simple although the actual undertaking of building the rafts and guiding them is much more complicated but in essence long thin logs are strapped together and a three or four man team equipped with a basic rudder set off down a two kilometre stretch of the river trying to ensure that they move as swiftly as possible without falling in or sinking.

It’s hard work when the river is racing strong
Credit: Raiers Pobla

There’s a celebration after the race

It attracts a number of visitors who not only enjoy the sight of the rafters racing but afterwards they join a reception that makes a floral offering to the Dona del Raier, the local Virgin (linked perhaps in many minds to the mythical Lady of the Lake) and a meal and drink in the town square.

The Raiers come from the towns of La Pobla de Segur and Pont de Claverol on the Noguera Pallaresa river and Coll de Nargo on the Segre.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page