Every barrio or district in Barcelona hosts its own annual fiesta,
which you might as well join in with as the music, drums, noise of
the crowds and general celebrations of the festival will keep you
awake throughout the night anyway.
My favourite is La Fiesta Mayor de Gracia which is held in
August. For a whole week Gràcia reverberates to the sound
of music, processions of drummers and elaborately dressed devils
National Spanish Holidays, Catalan public holidays and Barcelona only holidays
New Year's Day / Año Nuevo
Epiphany / Día de Reyes
Maundy Thursday / San José
Saint George / Sant Jordi
Virgin of Montserrat (Barcelona only)
Labour Day / Día del Trabajador
Sant Ponc (Barcelona only)
Assumption / Asunción
Catalonia National Day / Festa Nacional de Catalunya
La Mercé (Barcelona only)
Fiesta Nacional de España
All Saints Day / Día de Todos los Santos
Constitution Day / Día de la Constitución
Immaculate Conception / Inmaculada Concepción
Christmas Day / Navidad
Boxing Day / Sant Esteban
La Fiesta Mayor de Grácia
Several streets are decorated to individual themes containing lanterns,
Papier-mâché figures and sculptures in a competition
to gain the prize for the best decorated street. It creates a magical
feel as you walk through the narrow streets, especially at night.
Catalonia's traditional castellers (human castles)
practice and compete in one of Gracia's main squares – Plaza
Rius i Taulet. To watch these human towers is nerve-racking and thrilling,
one by one people climb onto each other's shoulders to form a linked
tower, topped by ever-lighter people until finally a small child
forms the summit.
The dancing devils (Correfoc), are made up of
different groups wearing decorated clothes who dance through the
streets to their own band of drummers, setting off fireworks attached
to the ends of their pitchforks as they go. If you want to see the
devilish dancers, check out the videos below.
More dancing devils:
The Gigantes or giants parade, a family favourite, is a parade
of huge figures representing kings, queens and nobles. The figures
are accompanied by music and dance and twirl through the streets.
Concerts are organised, many of them free, and most streets seems
to have some sort of band or music playing. You can collect a free
guide to the festival from many of the street stands, or from
the Ayuntamiento in Plaza Rius i Taulet.
For some reason it always seems to pour with rain during the Gracia
Festival so take your umbrella!
Sant Joan is an important date in Barcelona and Catalonia and this
fiesta is celebrated with fire!
With recent laws banning the lighting of fires in the streets, Barcelona
has become a safer place, and many people head for the beach where
fires can still be lit.
However, fire-crackers and fireworks have replaced the fires, and
the city echoes to the noise of fireworks all day and night (and
most of the preceding and following nights too).
Sant Joan is a great excuse for a party, and everyone seems to join
in. The fiesta has its roots in pre-Christian times and is celebrated
during the night from 23rd to 24th June.
Sant Jordi is Catalonia's patron saint and therefore widely
celebrated. The tradition is to buy a book and a rose for your loved
one, and apparently book sales for Sant Jordi account for 18% of
book sales for the whole year. The rose signifies love whilst the
book signifies culture.
Sant Jordi is celebrated on 23rd April.
Sant Mercè is the Patron Saint of Barcelona: Mare
de Deu de la Merce.
Celebrated on 24th September but lasting about three days,
Sant Mercè is celebrated with processions and street performances
together with the usual correfocs (dancing devils), gigantes and
castellers. Not to be missed.
The list of fiestas above are the main ones in Barcelona, but there
is a link in the right-hand column to a page where the dates of all
fiestas in BCN are listed, so whichever barrio you are living in
or visiting, there is a fiesta for you.