One of the most exciting ways to experience Barcelona is to witness their grand festivals. The history of the city creates a merging of pagan rituals of the past with the strong sense of religion of today, resulting in these wonderful celebrations that sometimes go on for days. The range of festivals that Barcelona boasts of includes cultural festivals, religious festivals, art festivals and even music festivals. If youâ€™re planning to visit whilst one of these festivals is on youâ€™ll need to find where to stay in Barcelona carefully to ensure you get a good location.
Here is a list of some of Barcelonaâ€™s best festivals that you should try to see.
Festes de la Merce
This week-long event in honor of the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of Mercy, opens with giants, dragons and cap grosses in the PlaÃ§a Sant Jaume. Itâ€™s followed by more than 600 events including sardanes and correfocs (a tamer version for children, followed by the biggest and wildest of the year on the Saturday night). Further highlights include dazzling fireworks displays, free concerts, a seafront air show, sporting events including a swim across the port and a regatta, and a heap of activities for children and even some processions of wooden giants. Furthermore, if you like food then you would truly enjoy the Cava that is served throughout this festival in large quantities. Religions ceremonies and pagan rituals coincide during this time harmoniously.
Fira de Santa Llucia
Fira de Santa Llucia is held just before the Christmas period and is characterized by different types of Christmas related items being sold in front of churches and cathedrals. As the name suggests, the festival is held in the name of Santa Llucia who is considered to be the patron saint for fashion designers and the partially sighted. While different types of items are sold such as wooden pieces, sculptures and moss, the majority of these are related to the formation of nativity scenes.
Monegros Desert Festival
The Monegros Desert Festival is a festival for music aficionados. It is one of the largest music festivals held in Barcelona at any time of the year. The festival is held 200 kms from Barcelona in the desert of Fraga and usually draws over 40,000 people. The festival is held in the month of July.Â Every year it showcases some of the best electronic music on the continent, with DJs of all sub genres performing nonstop for a period of 20 hours.
The city drops everything for this last big hurrah of overeating, overdrinking and underdressing prior to Lent. The celebrations begin on Dijous Gras (Mardi Gras) with the appearance of potbellied King Carnestoltes â€“ the masked personification of the carnival spirit â€“ followed by the grand weekend parade, masked balls, fartaneres (neighbourhood feasts, typically with lots of pork), food fights and a giant botifarrada (sausage barbecue) on La Rambla, with most of the kids and market traders in fancy dress.
Setmana Santa (Holy Week)
Easter for Catalans is a relatively sober event, with none of the ceremony embraced by their southern cousins. The main event is the blessing of the palms on diumenge de rams (Palm Sunday). Crowds rush into the cathedral clutching lightened palm fronds bought from stalls around the city; these are then used to bring luck to households. On Good Friday, a series of small processions and blessings take place in front of the cathedral. On Easter Sunday, Godparents hand out the money: chocolate confections, more elaborate than humble Easter eggs.
La Diada de Sant Jordi
The Day of Lovers to the local, a combined celebration of Valentineâ€™s Day and the death of two of literatureâ€™s greatest men, Cervantes and Shakespeare. The main event of the day is the exchange of gifts between couples. Barcelona’s favorite street, Las Ramblas, becomes a massive market selling books and flowers. The men give women a rose and in return, receive a book in tribute to the two writers who both died on this day in 1616.
Festival del Grec
Grec Festival de Barcelona, one the most important events in Barcelona’s cultural calendar, takes over the city. With over 60 music, theatre and dance shows taking place in over 26 venues, you can be sure there will be something to suit your tastes.
New Yearâ€™s Eve
In Spain, New Year is a huge celebration in bars, restaurants and on the streets, and tends to be a time for family dinners, with most people emerging to party after midnight, but there is always a group of revelers to be found in PlaÃ§a Catalunya. The drill is to wear red underwear for luck in the coming year, and to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime of the clock, at midnight. Itâ€™s harder than youâ€™d think, and tinned, pre-peeled versions are available. During the day, look out for Lâ€™Home dels Nassos, the man who has as many noses as days the year has left (it being the last day, the sly old fox has only one) who parades and throws sweets to the children.
One of the best ways to enjoy the wonder that is the city of Barcelona is to attend some of its festivals. Have you done any of these festivals?