Every year from 15 August, the Gràcia neighbourhood kicks off a week full of fun and activities. During the festival the neighbourhood’s streets and squares play host to concerts, workshops, fashion shows, fireworks and much more.
Gràcia’s local festival is the most famous and most extravagant of all of Barcelona’s neighbourhood celebrations and attracts crowds in the thousands, including locals and tourists alike, as well as people from Barcelona’s surroundings interested in going to one of the events or simply strolling through the neighbourhood.
One of the highlights of the festival is the original street decorations, which are different every year. The locals spend the months leading up to the festival hard at work on the distinctive, colourful adornments that create a unique atmosphere in the streets of the neighbourhood. A competition is even held to decide which street is the best decorated.
Every year Catalonia hosts one Formula 1 race a season at the famous Circuit de Catalunya (Montmeló). For three days, from 9 to 11 May 2014, the best drivers and fastest cars in the world go head-to-head as they compete for maximum points in the world championships. The Montmeló track and all of Barcelona buzzes with energy during this Formula 1 race.
Plus, every year during the months of February and March, training sessions are held at the Circuit de Catalunya, with admission at very reasonable prices. This is a great choice for Formula 1 fans looking for a small shot of adrenaline at a more affordable price.
Primavera Sound is another of the festivals that is gaining popularity in Barcelona every year. Its first edition was held in 2011 and attracted 8,000 people, while it is estimated that in 2012 crowds of roughly 150,000 attended the event across its different venues.
This music festival combines new independent music and established artists. It covers all sorts of genres and styles, with a focus on pop, rock and electronic music.
Primavera Sound draws together artists and spectators from different generations, who flock to different venues in the city every year; in 2014 will be held from 29 to 30th May.
The festival is celebretade at the Parc del Fòrum, every edition includes several different stages within this site. Other Primavera Sound concerts are held across the centre of Barcelona under the name "Primavera Ciutat". There are also some free gigs thanks to the "Primavera al Parc" initiative.
Sónar is one of the biggest annual events in Barcelona, taking place over a three-day period in June. Since it was founded in 1994, it has become one of the top electronic music festivals in Europe.
Sónar officially describes itself as the Barcelona International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, and every year it receives more than 80,000 visitors from all over the world.
It is split into Sónar by Day (concerts, showcases, professional area, etc.) and Sónar by Night (where the headline acts perform), with activities taking place in different venues across the city. Depending on the time, they are held at the CCCB and the MACBA (by day) and at the L’Auditori and Fira Gran Via (L’Hospitalet) venues at night.
It offers crowds more than their money’s worth every year, with a superb programme combining the biggest names on the contemporary electronic music scene with an extensive line-up of emerging artists, DJs and musical trendsetters.
Midsummer’s Eve, known in Barcelona as the Revetlla de Sant Joan ("St. John’s Eve") or nit del foc ("night of fire") is a festival celebrating the official start of summer. Celebrations around these dates date back to ancient times and are held across Europe, although they are particularly prevalent in Spain, Portugal (Fogueiras de São João), Norway (Jonsok), Denmark (Sankthans), Sweden (Midsommar), Finland (Juhannus) and the UK (Midsummer), with each region having its own traditions.
In Barcelona it is a lively, festive occasion when people have fun out on the streets and stay on the beach until the break of dawn. There is no specific venue where the celebration takes place, although most people head down to the beach, where special bars are set up and the usual chiringuitos (beach bars) crank up the volume of their music. There are also DJ sets and concerts all over the place, bonfires on the beach and fireworks to kick off the night.
Stuff goes on for the festival all over the city, where street parties are held and people throw firecrackers and bangers aplenty.
This is a truly magical experience in Barcelona and, as one of the biggest celebrations of the year, it has the city swinging all night long.
For every summer for several years now, Sala Montjuïc has offered an open-air cinema season in the gardens around Montjuïc Castle. Screenings are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 p.m., with a total of 15-18 films shown in 35 mm on a giant screen.
Generally, the season includes some of the greatest films in the history of cinema, which are always shown in the original language with Spanish subtitles. Before the start of the film, you can enjoy live music from performers of different genres, including jazz, blues, flamenco and samba, as well as a selection of short films. People usually bring food and drink so that they can enjoy a picnic during the screenings.
Barcelona stages numerous festivals, especially in the summer months, when the weather is ideal for enjoying open-air activities.
The Cruïlla Festival is one of the more recent events, having celebrated its 7th anniversary in 2013.
This festival takes place during the first fortnight of July at the Parc del Fòrum and lasts two days. Its line-up includes performances from a variety of hip-hop, reggae and rock acts, among others.
The concerts are held at the four stages specially set up for the festival. Besides the various concerts in the programme, you can also enjoy other activities like workshops, games and circus performances during the festival.
24 September is the day of Barcelona’s Festa Major, or big annual festival, commemorating the feast day of La Mercè (Our Lady of Mercy), the patron saint of Barcelona.
Barcelona’s streets and neighbourhoods come alive during the festival which, given its huge significance to locals, isn’t only celebrated on the 24th, but rather comprises four days jam-packed with activities.
Some of the most popular activities include the Correfoc (a "fire run" in which people are pursued through the streets by firework-spraying demons, dragons and all manner of other mythological creatures), the Catalan Wine and Cava Fair (in which a number of Catalan wine producers show off their products and offer free tasting sessions) and the Piromusical (a music, fireworks and light show held in Montjuïc) which provides a fittingly spectacular finale to the celebrations.
In short, with artistic and fun activities galore, you’re bound to have a blast at this festival, which offers everything from dance to circus, concerts, shows and street art for all tastes and ages. When it comes to parties, it’s hard to top Barcelona’s La Mercè, which also marks the end of summer and looks forward to autumn.