There’s never any shortage of things to do in the colourful Spanish city of Barcelona regardless of which time of year you visit. From delicious tapas and cocktail bars that play live music until late into the night, to art museums and beautiful parks that will keep you occupied during the day; Barcelona is filled to the brim with things to do and see. Depending on when you visit, however, you might be lucky enough to catch one of these once-a-year events. Though you can enjoy the cable cars and Picasso museum all year round, these fleeting but noteworthy seasonal occasions are a little more special.
In some countries, the Day of the Three Kings is arguably as big as Christmas itself. Spain is one of such countries that takes the 6th of January, or ‘Epiphany’, very seriously; in this case, that equates to tons of festive celebrations. Re-enactments of the arrival of ‘The Three Kings’ are held across Barcelona, most notably at Port Vell, where actors portraying the kings arrive by boat, greet the children, and then join a parade through the city. The days surrounding Epiphany are an exciting time characterised by religious celebration, special cakes and gift giving.
Calçotada, January – March
In the early months of the year, a delicious tradition sweeps across Barcelona. This is the season of the Calcot, a type of sweet spring onion which is grilled, peeled, and then dipped in a traditional romesco sauce. Typically, a dish of roasted lamb and white beans follow.
You can travel out to the woodlands where calcots are grilled out in the open, as to enjoy them amidst nature – or you can order them at traditional Catalan restaurants.
Primavera Sound, May – June
The biggest musical event in Barcelona is undoubtedly Primavera Sound. This hugely popular music event is known for its line-up of diverse artists – both indie and major – playing a diverse range of music. The festival is held at Parc del Forum – a large stadium on the waterfront, and its previous line-up has included acts as big as The White Stripes, Neil Young, Iggy Pop and Pet Shop Boys. This is the perfect opportunity to experience some amazing acts in a buzzing atmosphere.
Tast a la Rambla, June
There are three dining experiences you need to tick off your list when visiting Barcelona – firstly, it’s the local paella. Secondly, it’s the traditional tortilla. Finally, it’s tapas. When it comes to tapas, you’ll be spoiled for choice during one of the city’s many food festivals. The most popular of which is known as Tast a la Rambla which takes place along the famous Rambla street. You’ll be able to stroll over 100 metres worth of stalls and restaurants offering their take on the classic Spanish cuisine. La Rambla transforms into the ultimate gastronomic destination, attracting renowned chefs and hungry tourists. Whether you’re looking for some bruschetta and cheese during lunch time, or wine and sweet treats in the evening – don’t miss out on the culinary delights of La Rambla in June.
PokerStars Championship, August
Each year, Barcelona is home to a live poker tournament organised by one of the biggest online poker sites in the world. The PokerStars Championship takes place at the most stylish casino in the city, welcoming both amateur and professionals players alike. Though the championship is hosted in a number of cities, Barcelona is by far the most popular destination for players. Coinciding with this tournament are a number of parties and casino events held throughout the city.
Festa de Sant Roc, August
Throughout the year, districts in Barcelona take turns hosting a ‘festa major’ – literally, a ‘big party’. This of course includes a variety of celebrations – street parades, street art, competitive games, concerts, markets, feasts and much more. Though it’s difficult to say which district hosts the best party, Festa de Sant Roc puts on a great show whilst simultaneously allowing you to get a taste of Medieval Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter. The square in front of the iconic cathedral is filled with markets, performers and musicians, and the last night od celebrations sees a firework display in the swuare. If you’re up for it, you can even partake in the festival’s wine drinking contest.
Fiesta de la Merce, September
Also known as the ‘Festival of Barcelona’, Fiesta de la Merce has been an official holiday since 1871 – even if the city celebrates it slightly differently today. Originally, it was a religious festival, to worship the Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. The local government wanted to arrange for several special activities on this day, and the tradition has been going strong ever since. The festival typically involves parades, traditional dances and impressive paper mache art known as ‘gegants i capgrossos’. During this time you can also watch a show of synchronized fireworks, the famous and colourful water fountain along with music at the bottom of the Montjuic Mountain.
L’Alternativa Independent Film Festival, November
This is one for the movie buffs – particularly those with a taste for foreign, indie or experimental films and documentaries. Hosted at a range of venues throughout the city (most notably at the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre), the festival is comprised of screenings, lectures and round table talks.
There’s always something exciting happening in Barcelona; a city where each season and its events attracts an international crowd and electrifying atmosphere. You don’t have to spend long in this city to realize the locals like any excuse for a party.