All year round there are festivals in Barcelona, some only take place in the city whilst others are celebrated throughout Catalonia or nationwide. The biggest Barcelona festival is Festes de la Merce which takes place in September and consists of giant wooden figures roaming the city streets. There are some amazing fireworks on the ‘Nit de Sant Joan’ in June when Barcelona celebrates midsummer. Many international musicians regularly appear at concerts in Barcelona whilst June welcomes thousands of visitors to the El Sonar Festival.
Dia de Sant Jordi
When?: 23rd April
San Jordi (St George) is the patron saint of Barcelona so this is a wonderful day to be in Barcelona when the Ramblas becomes a huge flower market and book stall. Men give women a rose reminiscent of St Valentines Day and women give men a book in tribute to Cervantes who died on this day in 1616 (Shakespeare died on the same day).
Festival de Sonar
Barcelona hosts the annual Sonar festival of “advanced music and multimedia art” according to the brochure. It consists of technology fairs during the day and music events by night. Hugely popular so book early. [See Sonar Festival]
Festival de Sant Joan
When?: 23/24th June
In the weeks leading up to 23rd June there is a rise in the number of fireworks being let off around the city then on 23rd it’s pyromaniac heaven as everyone heads down to the beach to celebrate the start of summer with an explosion of fireworks and bonfires burning on the beaches and all night revellry.
Grec Arts Festival
Held at venues all over the city from the end of June through to August this is the city’s largest music, dance and theatre festival. [See El Grec Festival]
Festa Major de Gracia
When?: Around 15th August
This is a week long festival in the streets of the Gracia neighbourhood where a full scale party takes place with lots of live music, fireworks and heavy drinking. [See Festa Major de Gracia Website]
When?: 11th September
This fairly subdued affair commemorates the fall of Barcelona during the War of Spanish Succession in 1714 resulting in Catalonia losing much autonomy. In 1980 it was officially recognised as Catalonia’s national day when political groups remember those who died in the 1714 siege of Barcelona whilst fighting against the Bourbon army.
Festes de la Merce
When?: around 24th September
This is Barcelona’s main annual festival with plenty events taking place from 22nd September including competitions to see which group of ‘castellers’ can form the highest human tower and processions involving wooden giants. There are lots of live music events, unbelievable firework displays and heavy consumption of Cava, the national drink of Catalonia. [See Festes de la Merce]
Public Holidays in Barcelona
As well as the festivals listed above there are also local and national holidays which might take place during your visit. The effect on opening times of tourist attractions during such holidays will vary so it’s best to check the official websites of these places. The main shops and banks will close on public holidays though many tourist businesses will stay open. Most bars and restaurants are unaffected.
1st January – New Year’s Day
6th January – Epiphany/Three Kings
March/April – Good Friday
March/April – Easter Monday
1st May – Labour Day
May/June – Pentecost (local)
24th June – Sant Joan (local)
15th August – Feast of the Assumption
11th September – National Day of Catalonia (local)
24th September – La Merce Festival (local)
12th October – Columbus’ Day (National Day in the rest of Spain)
1st November – All Saints Day
6th December – Constitution Day
8th December – Immaculate Conception
25th December – Christmas Day
26th December – Boxing Day