Barcelona and Catalonia bank holiday calendar
Public festivities and Holidays can disrupt your plans. Along with the National holidays there are local fiestas in every town, village and even neighborhood (normally according to the local Saint’s day) and it means that almost everything but Hotels and Bars will be probably closed.
Fiestas are in the Spanish way of live, most of them related to religious traditions of Catholic influence that were mixed with the own pagan ritual, they’re nowadays lived by its parting side than its religious meaning which most of the young people ignore as Spain is not that Catholic country anymore, even if the festivities remain.
5th Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos de Oriente (3 Kings' Parade)
Every 5th of January, Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar load their camels, presents, coal and their whiskers onto the boat, the Santa Eulalia, and disembark in Barcelona for the joy of children and adults that assist to the Parade to welcome the three magic kings who during the night will leave the gifts for the whole family.
The tradition asks to put one pair of shoes in the balcony so the Kings know how many people lives in the house, families should go to sleep soon but before they’ll leave some traditional sweets and liquor for the kings, and a little bit of water and food for the camels to thank them for the presents.
Renowned chefs decorate the floats in the 3 Kings’ Parade with cookery motifs.
The parade can be followed at any point of the itinerary; the Kings and its cortege will greet all of you, throw candies to everybody and pick up the letters that children give to their assistants with their wishes.
Tip: Be in advance and get well situated if you want your children to see it well, everyone in the city comes to welcome the “Reyes” and some people is really prepared with stairs so they don’t lose any detail! You could check the itinerary some days before in www.bcn.cat
Sant Antoni is the patron saint of the animals and in January and February many celebrations take place in all the country.
There are processions and blessings of animals in various districts around the city. The largest is in the district of Sant Andreu and the second-largest in the Eixample. An interesting assortment of animals - cats, dogs, donkeys and mules - line up to be blessed at the Ronde Sant Pau in Eixample.
20-22nd Pelegrí de Tossa (in Tossa de Mar)
This traditional pilgrimage is followed by a lively fiesta.
2nd La Candelera
12th Santa Eulalia
Santa Eulàlia, the day of the patroness of Barcelona, is a traditional winter celebration and the occasion of the prize-giving ceremony of the Ciutat de Barcelona Prizes for the arts and science.
Carnaval and Carnestoltes (The week preceding Ash Wednesday)
Carnaval or Carnestoltes comes from Latin meaning "Goodbye to the flesh" which refers to the 40 days of Cuaresma (Lent) during which time the Christians, Roman Catholics in particular, would not eat meat, colorful clothing was replaced by dark clothes, no parties were allowed, no marriages, etc.
Before Cuaresma came days of indulgence where wild behavior was accepted as a need and it was called Carnaval season. Carnaval celebrations now take place during the week before miercoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday).
In carnaval all this wildness and permissions gives name to the character of Carnestoltes, the king of the Carnaval who invites everybody to follow the crazyness of the period and who will be burned at the end of Carnival because of his bad behavior.
This period is also marked by gastronomy, Carnival began with Dijous Gras (Fatty Thursda) which is still celebrated in most Catalunya, the tradition makes people eat Butifarra d’ou (egg sausage), omelette and Coca de Llardons (pork scratchings Coca).
Carnival in Barcelona calls us to go out in the streets disguised and to dance in the Rua (Carnival Parade), normally every village has one but also schools organizes smalls one so small children have fun with their little school colleagues.
One of the most spectacular in Barcelona is the Rua del Carnaval de Sants which brings thousands of people to this neighborhood. But the big and famous is the Carnaval de Sitges, which gets impossibly crowded; if you want to see the best disguises and enjoy the carnival mood Sitges is the place to go!
Saturday afternoon sees the celebrations come to a climax with the Gran Rua de Carnaval, a colossal parade of adorned carriages and carnival groups and a snowfall of streaming confetti.
All good things must come to an end and on Wednesday the celebrants mark the occasion appropriately with a funeral. The king of carnival has, after all, died and taken the carnival with him. A funeral cortege of his widows and entourage, all suitably dressed in black mourn his passing.
3nd Sant Medir
The festivity of Saint Medir (in Gracia) is similar to Els Tres Tombs with the horse drawn carriages, and its known by the rain of candies that the processors throw to the crowd.
8th Dia de la Dona (Day of the Woman)
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
The holy week Is celebrated with religious processions and local traditions. Some to highlight around Catalunya are:
La Dansa de la Mort (Death Dance) de Vergés
La Passió d'Olesa (in Olesa de Montserrat)
La Passió d'Esparreguera
Dilluns de Pascua (Monday of Easter)
On Monday the tradition asked the godfather to bring La Mona to their godson, la Mona was originally a round cake with a boiled egg in the middle but now it has become an elaborated chocolate cake with splendid chocolate creations and figures which makes the delices of the children. Pastries compete every year to exhibit in their vitrines the most original and beautiful creations it's a pleasure for the eyes.
20th Dia de la Terra ( Day of the Earth)
23rd Diada de Sant Jordi – Dia del Llibre
This day celebrates Sant Jordi, Patron of Catalunya, the legend says that a dragon was terrifying a village by eating the young girls of the village, the girls were choosen by sortition and one day the princess was told to be the next victim, Sant Jordi, a brave chevalier saved the princess of the dragon fingers, and on the moment he killed the monster red roses rise from his blood.
As a symbol of this the tradition wants that men offer red roses to their loved women. And they receive books in return. Nowadays roses of all kind are sold, blue, yellow, pink...
This festivity it’s one of the most important cultural event of the year in Catalunya, known also as Festa del Llibre (Book’s Festivity). Vendors are situated along the Ramblas and Paseo de Gracia and others sell flowers from corner stalls, students profit these they to sell roses and gain money for their last year studies trip. Schools play traditionally the story of Sant Jordi.
Best Sellers authors come to the city to sign autographs to their lectors, TV and Radio stations do their shows live from Plaza Catalunya, and people gets inside the crowd to find the book they want and to enjoy the atmosphere of the day.
Semana Medieval de Sant Jordi (In Montblanc)
MontBlanc, the village where the dragon terrified, celebrates the Semana Medieval de Sant Jordi, a week of games, exhibitions, dance and traditional medieval music to celebrate Sant Jordi’s victory.
Feria de Abril
Established by the Immigrants of Andalusia who live in Catalunya is the perfect excuse if you want to live the Spanish stereotype of tapas, vino, flamenco, sevillanas and see the participants dressed in the colourfull dresses.
18th Dia dels Museus ( International Museum Day)
The international Museums Day approaches the art and cultural scene of Barcelona to everybody by offering free acces to most of the museums as well as organizing cultural events. Museums keep open until late in the night so it's a perfect plan before going out! Be ready to wait in the long queue for the most popular museums: Picasso and La Pedrera are two of the "hits" of the day.
11-12th Corpus Christi Celebrations
La Patum de Berga (Declared Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on 1983)
Celebrated during the Corpus Christi in this locality of el Berguedá, in the north of Catalunya, it takes place one of the most famous festivities of Catalunya, La Patum.
During 3 days huge figures of giants, mythologic creatures and dwarfs dance and make processions and battles of fire and pyrotecnics along the streets following the music of the taval (drum), under a vivid rythm while people follow them equipped with a red hat to avoid the burnings of the fire.
Celebrates corpus with the streets decorated with flowers and big processions.
Third week of May Fires I Festes de la Santa Creu (in Figueres)
Processions and Music in Figueres
Festa de la Musica
In the International Day of the Music the city of Barcelona takes her musicians out to the street and orgnizes plenty of concerts around the city and other musical events. Also in the "temples" of the music as El Liceu (The Opera Theatre) and El Palau de la Musica special concerts and events will be open all day long.
Corpus - L'Ou Com Balla
El Corpus is a catholic celebration with processons, bell chimes, etc. The one in Sitges, Barcelona and Tarragona are the most popular ones in Catalunya.
In Barcelona and Tarragona you'll find the famous "Ou com balla", the dancing egg in the fountain of the patio of the Cathedral. The other places where you can see the ou com balla in Barcelona are: El poble Espanyol, el Museu Frederic Mares(plaza Sant Lu), la parroquia de Santa Anna (Rivadeneyra, 3), la Casa de l'Ardiaca (Santa Llúcia, 1), el Ateneu Barcelonés (Canuda, 6), la parroquia de la Puríssima Concepció (Aragó, 299) y la Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres (Bisbe Caçador, 3).
23rd Revetlla de Sant Joan
This celebration has pagan origins as it’s naturally the celebration of the Summer Solstice, and the longest night of the year. The night of the witches, magic and fire is celebrated in Catalonia in a very special way. Big fires have place in the squares of every city, people brings all furnitures or other old things you want to leave back to get burned on this night.
Also Fireworks are extremely important this night; Catalans get bags and bags of fireworks for kids and adults which will be thrown during all night long. For those who don’t like them we recommend you to use ear plugs and keep your windows closed.
As always the gastronomy joins the tradition, after dinner is mandatory to cheer with Cava and eat the traditional Coca de pinions, Coca de Llardons and Coca de Crema.
Lots of people use to come to the beach to have a picnic with friends, eat, drink, play music, throw the fireworks and enjoy until the night has gone (or until the cleaning services come).
For more information, recipes, and to know where to go, check: http://www.bcn.cat/santjoan/en/welcome.html
24th Revetlla de Sant Pere
The patron of the fisherman, this party is the continuation of the Sant Joan festivities with more fireworks and Coca de Sant Pere in this case.
29th Annual festival in Tossa de Mar
Last week of June Els Raiers (in Sort)
Festival of rafters and river raing in Sort.
10th Sant Cristòfol
Special festival in Olot with traditional dances and processions.
16th Mare de deu del Carme
The Mare de Deu del Carme is the patron of a lot of the coastal villages and is celebrated with marine processions where all the boats of the village go to the sea toghether with the virgin image.
First Sunday Annual Festival at Puigcerdá.
Third week of July Festa de Santa Cristina (in Lloret de Mar) and Annual festival at Palafrugell
25th Festival de Sant Jaume (in Portbou)
26th Festival de Blanes
Blanes celebrates its Famous fireworks during all week with spectacular exhibitions of teams from all around the world.
August has been traditionally the month of Vacation’s for most of Spain which means that big cities are almost deserted and a lot of small shops and restaurants can be closed as their owners have left for the beach vacations. The great point of that is that you can visit the city relax and the parking in most public areas in Barcelona is Free!
By the other way, if you plan to go to the coast in August it can be really hard to find a hotel if you don’t plan it in advance as along with the foreigner tourists most Spaniards do their summer vacations in this month.
15th Mare de deu d’Agost (Holiday in all Spain)
15th to 21st Festa major de Gràcia
In August, neighborhoods in the city hold their "Fiesta Mayor". The one in Gràcia is the most famous of them, residents work all year long on the decorations of their streets with wonderful creations. The best ones will get awarded by Barcelona’s city hall.
The whole neighborhood is plenty of activities, concerts, shows in every of their small squares during a whole week and receive the visit of thousands of people who will hardly sleep during these days.
First week of August - Annual festival of Sant Feliu de Guixols
10-12th Annual festival of Castello d’Empuries
15th Festival at La Bisbal and Palafrugell
19th Festival de Sant Magí (in Tarragona)
Last Week of August Festa Major de Sitges (Sant Bartolomeu).
11th Diada de Catalunya The Catalan public Holiday commemorates its loss of independence in the hands of the Spanish and the French. Various cultural and sporting events are done during the days before and after.
24th La Mercè - Festes de La Mercè
The Fiesta de La Mercè honors the patron saint of the city of Barcelona, the Virgin of Mercy. The city of Barcelona undergoes a fantastic makeover of Catalan popular culture and mythology: the Castellers, the Diables with their fire-breathing dragons, the Gegants and Capgrossos parades, street fairs, dancing and traditional Catalonian fanfare.
Like a last explosion before autumn, La Mercè is the Festival of festivals, which concentrates in a few days hundreds of activities, last year more than 382 events of all kinds took place all around the city.
Barcelona Musical Action: to discover new sound proposals
Barcelona Street Arts: with artists who perform within reach of the audience
The Festival of Tradition: human towers, capgrossos (dwarves with big heads), giants and an entire menagerie of festive animals, accompanied by guests from Mediterranean countries.
The Festival in the Sky: acrobatic gathering including jets, balloons and gliders.
The Festival of Fire: all types of sparks, from the pyrotechnical music show to the correfoc (literally a fire-run).
The etcetera is long, and tends to include over 500 activities which gives something to appeal to everyone. La Mercè is the festival of a thousand faces.
Of particular interest is the "correfoc" (fire-breathing dragons from all over Catalonia), and the pyrotechnical music show (fireworks and classical music next to the Montjuïc fountains).
29th Festa Major de la Barceloneta The Barceloneta's district festivities that include streets decoration, dances, singing of the popular Barceloneta's chorus and the espectacular tradition of the Canó de la Barceloneta. The Canyon comes to the street at 9am the 29th to anounce with its shot the beggining of the festivities.
First Week Festival at Cadaques and at l’Escala8th Religious celebrations in Cadaques, Processions of Gigantes (in Solsona) and Festivals of Sort and Esterri d’Àneu.
23rd Festa de Santa Tecla (in Tarragona) Parades of Gigantes and capgrossos, and castellers (human Castles)
24th Annual festival of Besalu
7-Okt: Festes del Roser
8-Okt: Jaarmarkt in Viella
Laatste Week van Oktober: festes de Sant Narcís (in Girona) en Festes de Sant Matirià (in Banyoles)
1-Nov: Tot Sants – La Castanyada
Dit is één van de oudste festiviteiten van de wereld, de traditie om voor de doden te bidden was ooit een heidense en Keltische traditie die door de Romeinen gekerstend werd. Op 1 November gaan mensen naar het kerkhof om hun geliefden die zijn overleden te bezoeken en te herdenken met bloemen. Een populaire gedachte is dat de onlangs overledenen hun familie komen opzoeken rond het middaguur op deze dag.
De catalaanse traditie is om op deze dag de typische gepofte kastanjes, moniatos (zoete aardappelen) en panellets te eten, dat laatste is een soort snoepje van kokosnoot, amandel, pinyons, etc. Daarnaast wordt de zoete wijn Moscatell gedronken. In deze periode ziet men in de straten de echte Castañeras, warm geklede vrouwen die warme kastanjes en moniatos verkopen aan een ieder die zin heeft in een warme snack op deze koude dagen.
1-Nov: Sant Emengol in La Seu d’Urgell
8th Santa Llucia
La Fira de Santa Llucia
Christmas markets called Fira de Santa Llucia appear around the city to sell the traditional decoration and products for this winter dates: The Pessebre figures with its famous caganer, el Tió, Christmas trees, and other decoration stuff. The ones around the cathedral and the Sagrada Família are the most famous ones.
The fair is open from 28th November until 23d decembre.
18th Annual Festival of Cadaqués
25th Nadal (Christmas)
The Christmas celebration in Catalunya begins in the Christmas lunch, a meal where all the family gets together with the typical dishes: Gambas, Escudella (Christmas Broth), roasted duck and chiken and then turrones, neules and polvorones as a dessert.All together with wine and of course Cava.
Of course traditionally in every house you’ll find the “Pessebre” (the nativity scene ) with its typical catalan figue, el caganer, a young boy which is hiden in the pessbre and which represented fertility.Nowadays in the Christmas market you can find the most popular celebrities of the year as football players, politicians and other celebrities. And of course also the Christmas tree.
After or before lunch it takes place the Tio de Nadal, don’t wait for Santa Claus as Spanish celebrates the epiphany with the Reyes Magos de Oriente (see 5th January). El tió de Nadal, the Christmas log is a genuine tradition where after taking care of it the weeks before Christmas, every member of the family goes by turns to and while singing a typical song beats the hollowed log which is covered with a blanket. After the song it’s the moment to look under the blanket to see if the Tió has left us a present! Traditionally presents were turron and sweets but now it gives any kind of present.
26th Sant Esteve
A holiday in Catalunya followed also by a family traditional lunch.
31st Cap d’Any (New Year’s Eve)
The tradition makes that New Year is celebrating by eating a grape for every stroke of the Clock. Most of people follow them in the TV with the family but the ones who prefer it live can go to the Torre Agbar in Barcelona where a modern light spectacle is used as a clock to welcome the New Year.