Are you planning your next trip to Barcelona? You don't know when to come? Maybe these traditional festivities will help you decide!
Three King’s Parade in Barcelona
It is said that this is the most magical night of the year, and these three characters are definitely to ‘blame’. The Three Kings are enthusiastically welcomed by children and adults every 5 January, just a few hours before they visit our homes bringing gifts for everyone who has been good during the rest of the year. The afternoon of the 5th of January, the Three Kings, with the amazing entourage, will most probably reach the city by sea, docking at the Barcelona Port and then they will parade around the city, giving sweets to the crowds as a prelude to this unique night. The Three King’s floats, magnificently decorated, reflect all of the excitement and magic of this special tradition. Weeks beforehand, boys and girls have sent their letter to the Three Kings, asking for their gifts and at last they will see them in real life.
Tres Tombs Parade
In homage to muleteers, wagoners and peasant farmers, the horse parade is performed by ancient carriages animal drawn and several riders. It always appears the Unitat Muntada de la Guàrdia Urbana (Horse Guards of the local police) and riders who escort Sant Antoni and Santa Eulàlia flags, the co-patron saint of the city. But, overall, there are amazing carriages such as a firefighter truck driven by horses, the Imperial carriage of the funeral services, a delivery carriage for wineskins, one for the rice growers and some other historical ones from Barcelona and other Catalan cities.
Lots of citizens –and lots of kids- congregate together in front of the church to bless their domestic animals. The parade finishes in Plaça Sant Jaume, when the local authorities welcome the entourage.
Santa Eulàlia Festival and Light Festival
From 06th until 08th and the 12th
Activities come from the popular culture of Barcelona: giants, capgrossos, sardanes, diables and fire beasts fill the streets with life.
In recent years, the Santa Eulàlia Festival comes with the LLUMBCN Festival, which transforms the city in a gigantic linen where creators of the city draw their works with the most avant-garde techniques.
The Ciutadella park, the Sant Jaume square, some courtyards in Ciutat Vella and the façades of some emblematic buildings of Barcelona will be the scene of this festival, which shows a new city where buildings become other things and little corners come alive. Do you want to see how Santa Eulàlia cries ice tears in a façade? Go and discover the thousand faces of the city with this festival!
The Arribo, the Saraus, the Passacaglias, the Taronjada, the Burial of the Sardine... Welcome to the kingdom of the Carnival King.
Barcelona Carnival goes back to its origins and tries to achieve its ancient splendor again. The historical Carnestoltes of 16th and 17th Centuries had its ups and downs through time, but now the city wants a party where citizen, associations, schools and markets’ involvement increases.
Sant Medir festivity, the sweetest all year, has become a great event at Sarrià, Sant Gervasi, Gràcia and La Bordeta.
Its origin goes to the 4th century, when Medir, who was at Sant Cugat planting beans, run into Sever bishop. The bishop was running from the Romans, but asked Medir that, if they came and asked for him, to tell them the truth: that he had seen the bishop and that they would find him near there. When they appeared, though, the Romans did not believe Medir was telling the truth. So, once the bishop was seized, the Romans tortured them until death.
Centuries later, around 1828, Gràcia baker Josep Vidal i Granés suggested an agreement with Sant Medir: if he could heal his illness, every 3rd March he would go to Sant Medir chapel, at Collserola. Josep was healed and the first travel started in 1830. From then on, the number of people that celebrates this has increased, and every March they celebrate this with sweets.
On Friday and Saturday there are different religious activities around the city's churches, like lectures and processions.
The tradition of the Catalan Easter cake
The first Monday after Easter
During the days previous to Easter, the pastry shops of Catalonia exhibit a delicious and original show: cakes and chocolate figures, some of which are so complex and detailed that we can talk of real art works. This tradition, which is typical from Catalonia and Valencia, is known as “Mona de Pascua” (Easter cake). Its name has nothing to do with monkeys (‘mono’ in Spanish and Catalan), but comes from the Arabic term ‘munna’, which means “provision of the mouth”, a gift in the shape of sweet food that the Moriscos (Moorish convert to Christianity who remained in Spain after the Reconquest) used to make for their lords to celebrate that Lent was over. The Catholic tradition points out that the godfather gives his godson the mona on Easter Sunday, even though the very day to taste it is Easter Monday, which is a holiday in Catalonia. This is the day when families get together to eat the mona as a dessert.
Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia and according to the popular tale, he was a Roman military man born in the 3rd Century in Cappadocia, Turkey. He became a martyr when, following the given orders of emperor Diocletian, he refused to persecute the Christians, and for this he was decapitated by his contemporaries. The version of the most popular legend in Catalonia places the martyr in Montblanc (in the Catalan region named Conca de Barberà). According to the popular tale, a terrible dragon lived there, and it frightened all the people. In order to calm it down, every day a person chosen by lottery was given to the monster as a sacrifice. However, one day fingers pointed to the king's daughter. It was then when a kind knight appeared, faced the dragon and killed it, saving the princess from her tragic destiny. Tradition points out that in the place where the dragon shed its blood, a beautiful rose tree with red roses grew. In the 18th Century, Sant Jordi's Day became popular as a day for Catalan autonomy and today it is an important, public-spirited and cultural event filled with overexcitement. For Sant Jordi's Day, lovers exchange a rose and a book as a token of love. It was in 1926 when Sant Jordi's Day was first made to coincide with the Book Day to mark the occasion of the birth of Miguel de Cervantes and the death of Shakespeare and Josep Pla.
On Sant Jordi's Day it is highly recommended to walk around the center of Barcelona, which turns into a huge outdoor bookstore, flooded with stands of books where we will find the latest works and many acclaimed authors signing copies of their books.
The Festival of Saint John
The festival of Saint John is one of the most celebrated festivals of the people from Barcelona. It commemorates the arrival of the summer, and bonfires are the traditional way of doing it. Throughout the city people burn piles of wood and old furniture, and music and popular festivities flood the streets, the squares and the beach. The traditional “coca de Sant Joan” –sweet flat bread made of fruit and pine nuts- is always present. It is a delicious sweet typical of the night of Saint John. And even though this is really the shortest night of the year, for many people it is, without a doubt, the longest one.
Festa Major de Sant Roc
From 13th until 17th
Celebrated at Barcelona's Nova square since 1589, this is one of the oldest traditional festivals in town, with many unique celebrations.
The cucanya, the wake-up and the following of Sant Roc with its dances at Palau Episcopal, with centenary gegants and other traditional celebrations are made at this festival.
Festa Major de Gràcia
From 15th until 21st
Gràcia is one of Barcelona's quarters, which in the 19th century turned from being a rural small town to being a town for craftsmen, workers and small traders. Its Fiesta Mayor (local festivity) dates from this period. At first it was a religious festivity, but it developed to a city festivity.
Every day, there are popular lunches, afternoon snacks and dinners.
There are also all kinds of competitions: sudoku, food, puzzles, traditional games, table football, etc.
We can not forget the dance exhibitions, family and children's shows (puppets, stories, songs, magic...) which everyone will be able to enjoy, workshops and games for children.
Finally, like in every popular festivity, there will be tabalades, cercaviles and correfocs, and concerts starting on the evening and ending past midnight.
You can not lose this opportunity to live this important popular fiesta!
Festa Major de Sants
From 23rd until 30th
The tradition of celebrating this Festa Major de Sants started the 1837.
This years' Festa Major de Sants will be from the 23rd to the 30th August 2014. The roads where it takes place are: Alcolea de Baix, Alcolea de Dalt, Canalejas, Masnou, plaça de la Farga, Finlàndia, Galileu, Guadiana, Robrenyo, Rosés (Casa Gran), Sagunt, Santa Cecília, Valladolid, Vallespir and Vallespir de Baix, which become the main characters of this party.
In this party we will find traditional activities such as cercaviles, gegants, espectacles, tallers infatils, concerts, correfocs, etc.
Patron Saint Festivities in the city’s neighbourhoods
Before the end of the summer, the different districts and neighbourhoods of the city will celebrate their patron saint festivities. During September, these celebrations are the preview of the city’s great festivity, la Mercè. This is the case of the Horta and the Gràcia area (including La Salut, Vallcarca and Penitents districts.
All these neighbourhoods dress their streets for the celebration and for a few days they are brimming with activities, music, concerts, popular dinners and games for the young ones. This tradition is much loved by the people of Barcelona, as it allows for more interaction between neighbours and direct participation, all thanks to their pride for belonging to the same neighbourhood.
Diada Nacional de Catalunya
On September 11th 1714 the city of Barcelona fell after a long siege by the duke of Berwick in the War of the Spanish Succession. The French Bourbons were fighting against the Austrian Habsburgs to obtain the control of the Spanish Crown. This date also represented the abolition of the Catalan civil institutions and rights. September 11th was chosen for its symbolism to commemorate Catalonia’s National Day (Diada Nacional de Catalunya). During the whole day protest activities, as well as entertaining ones such as concerts, prize-giving ceremonies or speeches, take place both in Barcelona and in other towns throughout the country. Traditionally, in the morning of September 11th the political parties and entities bring floral tributes to the monument of Rafael de Casanova, who had an outstanding participation in the War of the Spanish Succession. Many museums of Barcelona also take part in this event with an open day.
From 19th until 24th
The legend goes that on the night of 24 September 1218, the Virgin appeared simultaneously to King Jaume I, Saint Pere Nolasc and Saint Ramón de Penyafort. She asked all three to create an order of monks dedicated to saving Christians imprisoned by the Saracens. It was the time of the wars of religion.
Centuries later in 1687, Barcelona suffered a plague of locusts, and placed itself in the hands of the Virgin of La Mercè. Once the plague had been overcome, the Council of the City named her patron saint of Barcelona. The Pope did not ratify this decision until two centuries later, however, in 1868.
After Pope Pius IX declared the Virgin of La Mercè the patron saint of the city, Barcelona began to celebrate a festival in the month of September. La Mercè really took off in 1902, when under the impulse of Francesc Cambó, the festival became the model the those that are currently held all over Catalonia. However, the history of La Mercè would suffer many high and low points that extended throughout the Civil War and the years of Franco.
With the arrival of democracy, La Mercè became a truly popular celebration thanks to the participation of organisations from all over the city. Today it is a festival held in a large number of public places with a programme centred on Mediterranean culture. In less than a week Barcelona brings together a huge programme of events which forces you to choose between them: street arts, street processions, concerts, traditional dances...
31st at night
La Castanyada is a traditional festival that is deeply rooted in Catalonia and celebrated on 1st November, All Saint’s Day. People get together and hold parties where they eat chestnuts – castanyes in Catalan –, panellets – small balls of almond paste coated in pine nuts –, sweet potatoes and other autumnal produce.
Beside the decorated tree, Catalan houses also display a Nativity Scene at Christmas; the representation with figures to recreate the birth of Jesus. Streets, squares, churches and entities of the city each prepare their own Nativity Scene, some with real people acting as figures. The most famous one is in the Plaça Sant Jaume, but there are many others such as the Iglesia de Belen, the Pia Almoina, Associació de Pessebristes de Barcelona, Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes, or Poble Espanyol. There are also scenes that underline a particular feature, such as the Nativity Scene of the Casa dels Entremesos, which has a touch of humour with the giant figures of Ciutat Vella; Undoubtedly a tradition that deserves exploring this Christmas.
All month until the 24th
Barcelona’s Christmas fairs and markets sell all kinds of decorations for the festive season. You’ll find everything you need to make the traditional crib, as well as logs, fir trees, lights, candles, and a wide range of hand-crafted items. Barcelona holds several Christmas markets but the Santa Llúcia Fair around the cathedral is the most popular and best-known of all.
Santa Llúcia Christmas market has been going since at least 1786. It sets up its stalls in front of the Cathedral in the weeks leading up to Christmas and sells fir trees, decorations, garlands, mistletoe… But it's all the different objects you can buy to create the nativity scene that are the market’s biggest draw You’ll find figures, moss, cribs, fountains and the curious caganer, who appears in surprising new guises every year. A tip: before you visit the fair, have a chocolate with churro fritters at one of the cafés on Carrer Petritxol and visit the cathedral, especially the chapel of Santa Llúcia, the patron Saint of the blind and the eponymous fair.
The Sagrada Família Christmas Fair is another important market. Held in the Plaça de la Sagrada Família opposite the Nativity façade, it has a wide variety of stalls selling typical Catalan Christmas decorations.
The Three Kings’ Fair on Gran Via is also very popular, and sells toys, sweets and presents for young and old alike for the 6th January Epiphany celebrations.
Christmas concerts: a song about redemption's mistery and the relationship between man and God.
At Christmas it is typicall to go to a concert, either if you go to the Auditori, el Liceu or el Palau de la Música Catalana.
Ice skating rink in Plaça de Catalunya
BarGelona is the ice skating rink in Plaça de Catalunya, the biggest facility of its kind in Europe.
It offers you a full programme of activities, including exhibitions and short beginners courses in ice sports.
Enjoy ice skating in Plaça de Catalunya!
Catalan Chimes on New Year's Eve
The 31st at midnight
There are a thousand ways to say goodbye to the year. In Barcelona, lots of restaurants prepare a great dinner followed by either a live music concert or they chango into night clubs with DJ. Apart from that, there is a big show at Montjuïc's Magic Fountain.
Barcelona prepares a great celebration to see off the year. This event led by La Fura dels Baus, takes place at the Montjuïc fountains; a spectacular show with suggestive images, music, a firework display and elements using the latest technology.
The highlight is just before midnight with the appearance of the Millennium Spirit, a 15-metre high sculpture, representing the spirit of the City. The traditional twelve strokes at midnight will pay tribute accompanied by volcanoes of fire and a great explosion. There is then a firework display combined with the fountains.
A ritual that will undoubtedly thrill us all and will mark a new way of celebrating the New Year in Barcelona.