Music and Michelin-starred dining at Costa Brava’s Peralada Castle

Music and Michelin-starred dining at Costa Brava’s Peralada Castle

A night at the opera: Festival Castell de Peralada

A soft green light emanated from the grounds of the castle and the soft click click of the nesting storks could be heard above the sounds of the orchestra readying their strings and bows. We were visiting one of the Costa Brava‘s most anticipated summer festivals – the Festival Castell de Peralada, held in the grounds of the grand Peralada Castle, just under two hours’ drive from Barcelona. A music, opera and theatrical festival, it brings together an eclectic array of artists from around the world. Last year’s event had everyone from Santana and Carla Bruni to Mozart’s The Magic Flute performances.

Festival Castell de Peralada
Peralada Castle during the day | © Dan Convey

Castell Peralada

Earlier that day, we’d had the chance to visit the castle and tour its rooms, oozing with glitz and grandeur. Unlike many of Spain’s old castles, the Castell Peralada is still partly lived in, so everything inside has been modernised, whilst still retaining its elegant air of days gone by. We entered first into a pretty cloister, left over from when the castle was once turned into a convent. Next, we headed upstairs to the magnificent library, lined from floor to ceiling in wooden bookcases and glorious leather-bound volumes. Today the library holds 100,000 books, including one of the most important collections of Cervantes’ books in the world. There are no less than 1,000 copies of Don Quijote, alone, translated into 33 different languages. Our final stop before lunch took us into the small glass and ceramics museums, housed in one of the lower rooms of the castle.

Library at the Castell de Peralada
Peralada Castle library | © Dan Convey

Michelin-Starred dining

Today, the castle’s dining room has in fact been transformed into a fine dining Michelin-Starred restaurant. We sat under glittering chandeliers and surrounded by historic tapestries, enjoying what seemed to be a never-ending tasting menu. There were asparagus spears, cleverly filled with fried egg mayonnaise; a fresh minty green pea and bean salad topped with baby calamari; a fragrant vegetable consommé covered with flaky pastry; and acorn-fed duck with citrus slices. Next came a trio of desserts – chocolates from around the world flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, chilli and yuzu; strawberries and cream with soft cloud meringues and a sugar tuile; and mango four different ways with a yoghurt foam. Finally, to end the meal came the highlight – a huge tray of over 50 different cheeses from all over Spain and France. Basque Idiazabal sheep’s cheese, a Catalan mountain goat cheese, and a blue Cabrales cheese from Asturias.

Michelin-starred cuisine at the Restaurant Castell de Peralada
Michelin-starred cuisine at the Restaurant Castell de Peralada

The Magic Flute

As the opening notes of Mozart’s The Magic Flute began to play, we all filed into an open-air theatre within the castle grounds. The audience laughed at Papageno’s funny songs, and gasped and sobbed at Tamino and Pamina, but everyone agreed that the Queen of the Night stole the show. The opera was in German, with Catalan subtitles, so following along wasn’t easy, but the music and singing more than made up for this. This opera was just one of the many acts at the Festival Castell de Peralada over the summer.

Festival Castell de Peralada - The Magic Flute
Opera performance at Peralada Castle

The Festival Castell de Peralada

The Festival Castell de Peralada has taken place in the grounds and of the castle since 1987, and this year’s event, as always, will take place during the months of July and August. This year’s acts include everyone from Jessie J and the opera of La Traviata to Russian ballet from St Petersburg and Paul Anka singing Sintra songs. Tickets are on sale now for 2019 and you can book them via the official website.