In what is considered the most magical night of the year, with the arrival of the summer solstice, the Hèsta deth Haro festival is held in Les (Val d’Aran) every year on St. John’s Eve (23rd of June).
This festivity full of colour, fire and Aranese dances revolves around the Haro, the trunk of a fir tree. About twelve metres high, the Haro is burnt on the village square as Aranese dances are performed around the flames. The planting of the new tree will take place at Quilhada deth Haro festival on St. Peter day (29th of June) and crowned with flowers carried by newly married couples.
The purifying fire becomes the protagonist on the night. Says the tradition that the fire burns evil spirits and also fertilises the earth to give good harvests.
Everything begins with a ringing of bells, at about 22.00. From that moment the audience focuses on the Plaça deth Haro for the procession presiding image of St. John and the young men carrying the cross, banners and processional flags follow the saint and the entourage closing it with the Corbilhuèrs (members of a group of traditional dance enliven the evening). The Haro is blessed by the priest before being burned, and while the flames reach the sky, a group of young people of the village spin "es halhes" (elements made of cherry bark skins, one on top of the other, and tied with an iron wire) over their heads like fire projectiles, symbolising the distribution of the purifying element to all corners of the village.
The Hèsta deth Haro festival is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity according to the resolution of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, dated 1st December 2015.