Barcelona's Top 13 Festivals
We bring you to city's best annual festivals - every month of the year, every year! From desert raves on the city limits to super sweet candy festivals, we have something to match your mood and the month of your visit!
1. Día de los Reyes Magos (Kings' Day) - January
This major public holiday is also the biggest Christmas parade in Spain! It's held in early January after the main Christmas festivities are winding down, but this festival winds them right back up again! The festival celebrates the arrival of the three kings in Bethlehem with gifts for baby Jesus and accordingly, this is the traditional day for exchanging Christmas gifts in Spain. There's a sensory stunning reception when the three kings arrive in the city's port aboard the special ship, Santa Eulàlia. You can expect fireworks, canons and Barcelona's Mayor - who gives the Kings keys to the city, so that they can travel around, and hand out gifts.
2. The Calçotada - February
If you're in this Catalonian city during the month of February, you're in for a real culinary treat! The Calçotada is a traditional Catalan feast held mostly in the second month of the year, but sometimes in March because it all depends on the early harvest! Early Spring might seem like an odd time for a harvest festival, but this celebration is all about Spring Onions! Everyone at this citywide event wears a bib and gets messy in all the right ways with classic Spanish dips and incarnations of onions that you can't even imagine.
3. Barcelona Carnival - February/March
This week-long carnival is Barcelona’s equivalent of Mardi-Gras (and it’s free to attend)! It’s a historical tradition that takes place on the streets of the city and has done since the 16th century. With over 30 parades, dancing and costumes, floats, orange balloons, a firework show and the ‘Arrival of the King’, you simply must take part if you find yourself in Barcelona at the end of February. Just get yourself to the centre of town and let the streets do the talking. The Arrival of the King is when the ‘King of Carnival’ makes his triumphant entrance into Barcelona starting up the big party. It starts with “Fat Thursday’, the first day of the Carnival where you’ll find an abundance of food markets all over the city celebrating and taking part.
4. Festa de Sant Medir (Candy Festival) - March
If the words: “free sweets” sound like music to your ears, then brace yourself for this epic parade between Carrer de San Salvador and Gran de Gràcia, in the Gracia district. The procession is a Mardis Gras of sorts and an occasion where an obscene amount of free sweets are thown out to the crowds lining the route. It's more fondly known as La festa més dolça (the Sweetest Festival) so if you have a sweet tooth, you should definitely jet into the city to celebrate this one.
5. Feria de abril - April
Feria de abril is a weeklong flamenco festival that follows in the aftermath of the city's mega Easter celebrations. At this top event in April, you lucky things can expect a showcase of all things Spanish with horse riders, fun fairs and good times galore! You'll find this in the Parc del Forum in the Diagonal Mar area of Barcelona. Other highlights include paella dishes that are the size of a small car and a Ferris wheel, offering some of the best views over the city.
6. Formula One in Barcelona - May
If you follow the biggest motorcar race on the planet and enjoy the world's best drivers navigating one of the tightest tracks around, then get yourself to Barcelona for this annual automobile highlight! It's held at the Montmelo racetrack and tickets can be both pricey and tough to get a gold of, but given that this circuit rivals the likes of Monte Carlo in its complexity and the skill required to navigate it, it's most certainly worth a try.
7. Fiesta de Barceloneta - June
This great June attraction is a part of the Fiesta del barrio summer festival series - celebrating the individual city districts. It's a huge party featuring papier-mâché figures and sculptures, prizes for the best decorated street, traditional castellers (human castles), dancing devils, drummers, fireworks and the Gigantes (giants) parade. No matter what city district you end up in, you're guaranteed a carnival atmosphere and a stonking good time.
8. Sonar Festival - June
This three day electronic arts festival in Barcelona runs all day and night. It’s one of the world's biggest celebrations of electronic music with stellar acts (up-and coming and well-known) from the industry performing. Some of these include Nosaj Thing, Daito Manabe, LCC and Justice. If you’re a lover of electronic music, then this is the place to be this summer.
9. Monegros - July
Monegros is the biggest Electronic music festival and rave in Spain, and it's held in the desert just outside of Barcelona. In a festival that's been compared to Burning Man in Nevada for it's intensity, attendees can expect to enjoy the fine company of more than 40,000 party people for over 22-hours of non-stop music. Spread across five super sized stages, the sounds to look forward to include Electro, Techno, Hip Hop, Drum & Bass, and Dubstep.
10. Benicassim - July
So this festival doesn’t actually take place in Barcelona but the Spanish town Benicassim is about 2 and a half hours away by train (and the festival is aptly named after the town). It’s a huge annual music festival and well worth the journey down south. Young backpackers will love it - this year the lineup includes Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Kasabian and Liam Gallagher (plus much much more). The best part? People camp out in tents just 10 minutes walk from the beach. You can see why it’s won the UK Festival Award for Best Overseas Festival.
11. Circuit Festival Barcelona- August
Not to be outdone by Barcelona's Gay Pride earlier in the year, this international Gay and Lesbian festival explodes into venues across Barcelona and in nearby Sitges during the month of August. Circuit Festival is held over a week and celebrates the championing of equality, music, arts and sports with pre-parties, parties, and post parties.! The Circuit Festival is the biggest European gay and lesbian event ever, attracting more than 50,000 visitors from all over the world.
12. Fiesta de la Mercè - September
Fiesta de la Mercè is a celebration of the city's patron saint and protector of Barcelona. It's made up of more spin off celebrations than you can shake a stick at, but the one thing common to all is street parties, elaborate decorations, free music concerts, breath taking fire shows, and wondrous processions of giants, and human castles.
One of the highlights of the La Merce festival is the Correfoc (fire-runs). This is when a special community in Barcelona dress up as devils and run the streets with handheld fireworks and bangers. They set them off in the air accompanied by fire breathing dragons. For those with a nervous disposition, you may want to stand back.
13. In-Edit Beefeater - October
Contrary to what the name suggests, this annual event has absolutely nothing to do with the soldiers in traditional uniform who guard the Queen of England and the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. In-Edit Beefeater is actually an international music documentary festival, profiling famous music acts on the big screen. Venues vary from year to year so if you're tempted by this one, make sure you give it an up-to-date Google, before you rock up.
Room For Two More Little Ones?
14. Manga Fair Barcelona - November
Fans of Manga films, video games and comic books gather to celebrate the genre with conferences, workshops, fancy dress and much more.
15. New Year's Eve - December
Just like the big party cities across the world, Barcelona throws a huge Party in December with fireworks over the beaches, parties in the street, clubbing gone crazy and a night you'll never forget.
Didn't find something that you like? Check out a way more extensive - annual events listing on the St Christopher's website, right here, right now!
- Rob Savage