Crowd cheers as giant human tower tradition in Catalonia returns for first time since pandemic began

Watch Catalans celebrate as a human tower is created for the Santa Úrsula festival.

Crowds cheered as a two-storey human tower formed in a Catalonian town centre — in the first time the centuries-old tradition has taken place since the pandemic began.

Footage of dozens of people carefully piling atop one another captured a close-contact moment that would have seemed unthinkable during the Covid lockdowns of just over a year ago.

The spectacle, which marks the occasion of the Santa Úrsula festival in the town of Valls, was a welcome return to some semblance of normality for locals.

The performers wore masks and helmets as they climbed to stand on each others' shoulders, supported by a sprawling base of interlinked people.

The human towers - or "castells" - of the Catalonia region are among the area's oldest and strongest traditions.

The human tower is carefully formed by people standing atop one another. Credit: AP

In accordance with local regulations, all entrances to the square were open and there were no limits on numbers.

However, in a reminder of ongoing pandemic precautions, the 'castellers' were obliged to the face coverings during the performance.

The tradition of building human towers or "castells" dates back to the 18th century and takes place during festivals in Catalonia, where "colles" or teams compete to build the tallest and most complicated towers.

"Castells" have been declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

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Almost all of the remaining lockdown restrictions were lifted in Catalonia recently, putting an end to limits on restaurants, bars and public gatherings.

Spain has managed to get its outbreaks broadly under control recently, recording seven-day average case figures hovering around 2,000.

The UK's seven-day average is just over 45,000.