Ou com Balla

Updated Jul 21 2023

Every year on the holy day of Corpus Christi, a curious tradition is held in Barcelona and in several villages in Catalunya – that of ‘l’Ou com Balla’ (in english ‘the Dancing Egg’). It literally consists of an egg that dances on top of the water coming out of the fountains that are situated in cloisters of churches, as well as in some gardens and courtyards of public buildings. For this celebration, the water in the fountains is often given a special colour, in order to add to the effect, as well as being decorated with flowers and seasonal fruits.

Origin and history of the “Ou com Balla” tradition

Very little is known about the origin of the ‘Ou com Balla’ tradition. The first theory is that the egg represents the Eucharist during the holy day of Corpus Christi, whilst another idea is that it represents fertility and the rebirth of new life.

Ou com Balla Museu Frederic Marès

But whatever theory you believe, what is known is that it originates in Barcelona Cathedral between the 15th and 17th centuries, depending on which source you look at, the most accepted indicating the year 1637 as the beginning of the tradition.

Some time after starting to be held at the cloister of the Barcelona’s Cathedral, ‘l’Ou com Balla’ also began to take place at the nearby Casa de l’Ardiaca (house of archdeacon), and from the end of the 20th century many more places were added, both within Barcelona itself and further afield in the rest of Catalunya.

A dancing egg? But how is it possible?

Before placing the real egg on top of the fountain, it is carefully drained and then sealed with wax in order to fill the hole that was created. It is then placed on top of the spout of the fountain, and it starts to turn and turn, giving the sensation that it’s actually dancing, hence the name ‘l’Ou com Balla’ – ‘the Dancing Egg’.

L’Ou com Balla video

Where and when is it celebrated?

As we have already mentioned above, this tradition takes place on Corpus Christi day, which is 60 days after Easter Sunday. Corpus Christi always therefore falls on a Thursday, and you can enjoy the festival from the Thursday of Corpus Christi itself to the following Sunday, so that as many people as possible can visit the sites where this centuries-old tradition is celebrated.

girl posing with Ou com Balla

Many locals go to the cloister of Barcelona Cathedral on Corpus Christi day, which is the most traditional and well-known of all the locations where the festival is celebrated, especially as it is where it’s thought to have originated. The timetable to see l’Ou com Balla will vary according to the place you’re visiting, since it will fall within the opening hours of the church or place in which it takes place.

Ou com Balla, Corpus Christi, 2024

This year, Corpus Christi falls on Thursday 30th May, and in most case you will be able to see l’Ou com Balla in the spaces listed above between the 30th May itself and Sunday 2nd June (Note that in some places the tradition can only be seen on 30th May itself).

Official program Ou com Balla Corpus 2024

Places in which you can see l’Ou com Balla 2024

Cloister Barcelona Cathedral

carrer (street) del Bisbe

Gardens Frederic Marès Museum

plaça (square) Sant Iu, 5

Casa de l’Ardiaca

carrer (street) Santa Llúcia, 1

Cloister Basílica Puríssima Concepció

carrer (street) Aragó, 299

Gardens Ateneu Barcelonés

carrer (street) de la Canuda, 6

Maritime Museum

av. de les Drassanes

Cloister Pedralbes Monastery

Baixada del Monestir, 9

Workshop ‘Sant Camil’ school

carrer (street) Ercilla, 57


Free visits in Barcelona during Corpus Christi festivities 2024

Barcelona City Hall

8th June 2024

from 10:00 to 20:00

Historical Archive Casa de l’Ardiaca

30th May 2024

from 10:00 to 20:00

Ateneu Barcelonés

30th May 2024

from 11:00 to 20:00

La Casa dels Entremesos

30th May 2024

from 10:00 to 20:00

Barcelona Cathedral

30th May 2024

from 09:30 to 17:30

Frederic Marès Museum

30th May 2024

from 10:00 to 19:00

Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes

30th May 2024

from 10:00 to 17:00

Dancer egg Photo gallery

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