10 festivals and events in Barcelona you can’t miss
With over 2000 years of history, Barcelona has much to offer. Its mix of rich culture and tradition and its dynamic population make it a go-to for cultural events and festivals. From music to food to architecture, there is something for everyone’s tastes. Find out which festivals and events are our favourites.
Carnaval is like Spain’s answer to Halloween, but bigger and better. People in costume take to the streets for a massive celebration. This festival is not only celebrated in Barcelona but in many parts of the world as well. It is tied to the Lenten season and is usually a week-long party around the end of February or March. For a better idea of what Carnaval is all about, check out Carnival is Coming to Town: The Biggest Party of the Year.
Only completing its second year, Llum BCN in the Poblenou neighbourhood transforms the streets with installations of light. Set among industrial buildings or empty plots of land, the experiments with light will make you appreciate art in a new way. This festival runs for three nights in February.
Catalans love to eat and it’s apparent in the way they take this festival so seriously. A calçotada is a barbecue of sorts, where heaps of calçots (something like a green onion crossed with a leak) and grilled meats are consumed. No calçotada is complete without drinking wine from a porró. Calçotadas generally take place in the months of February and March when the vegetable is most abundant and ready for harvest. You can go more in-depth by reading our post Crazy for Calçots – Everything about the Catalan Onion Festival.
La Diada de Sant Jordi is a festival that belongs to Catalonia. For one day of the year, the streets are converted into a huge book and flower shop. This is a celebration of love and friendship – similar to Valentine’s Day. Couples and friends exchange books and flowers on April 23rd
Sant Joan is a celebration of the summer solstice – the longest day of the year. Celebrated on the 23rd of June, it is typical to hear the sound of firecrackers popping up to a week before the festival. Families usually gather for a dinner together and eat the Coca de Sant Joan for dessert (a pastry filled with pine nuts and candied fruits). Everyone then heads to the beach where there is a huge party where people set up bonfires and light firecrackers.
Music festivals in Barcelona
Barcelona has become a hotspot for music lovers. Primavera Sound, which was started in the city in 2001 and takes place in June, has grown in size and popularity and manages to bring together all genres of music. There is also Sónar which began in Barcelona in 1994 and celebrates arts, design and most of all – electronic music. To learn more about other music events, you can read our post about 7 of the Best Summer Music Festivals in Barcelona.
Festa Major de Gracia
Throughout the summer months, each of the barrios (neighbourhoods) in Barcelona host their own celebration. The Festa Major de Gràcia is one of the biggest and most famous among them and runs from August 15th-21st. The usually quiet streets of Gràcia turn into a competition for the best-decorated block. Each block chooses a theme and puts their all into decorating it to the max. During the day, you can walk through each of the streets and feel like you’ve been transported to another word. By night, there are parties, dancing and drinking.
Pride and Circuit Festival in Barcelona
Barcelona is a welcoming place, so what better way to celebrate Pride in this city. With events running around the city and in the gay neighbourhood (gayxample), you’ll find love and acceptance everywhere. And of course – the parade. This event takes place around the end of June.
Circuit is an international gay and lesbian festival that takes place in August for a week. There are parties in venues all over Barcelona and Sitges. It’s the biggest festival of its kind in Europe and brings in more than 50,000 people from around the globe.
Festes de La Mercè is a festival celebrated in September and is one of the biggest in Barcelona. It celebrates the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of Mercy (La Mare de Déu de la Mercè). The official feast day is September 24th, but festivities begin a few days before. Throughout the weekend, the city becomes a playground of cultural entertainment: dance, circus, concerts, theatre and more are spread through Barcelona in its streets, parks and plazas. All the events are free and even the metro runs all night. No Mercè is complete without seeing the giant papier-mâché gegants (giants) and a correfoc (fire run).
Open House Barcelona
For 48 hours, Barcelona opens its doors to the public. Being the famous architecture hub that it is, this event is the perfect way to explore all the wonder from within. All styles and types of buildings are open to the public. Places of architectural interest like the Arc de Triomf, Casa Vicens, the Liceu, factories, museums, schools are open to the public for exploring. This event takes place over a weekend in October.