Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Barcelona Festivals

Choosing when to visit Barcelona can be a difficult choice to make if you have an open diary. So why not consider combining a visit to the Catalan Capital with a festival - new or traditional, it's always a great way to spruce up a short break. Here are a few of the best to look out for through the year.

Despite being a Catholic country by large, Barcelona doesn't really celebrate Easter week as you might expect. Sure, it's a public holiday and all, but nothing compared to the celebrations in the South of Spain with the Virgin processions in Andalusia and around. In fact, the only real procession worth visiting to watch in Barcelona is the Corpus Christi parade, which involves some of the ceremonial giants the city has become famous for.

It's worth bearing in mind that there are some great local festivals within the city in it's diverse and varied neighbourhoods. July and August see the Raval and Gothic Quarter celebrate their local festivals with human castles, open air concerts and parades through the streets with firecrackers and other fun activities. Perhaps the best "local" festival in that of the Gracia neighbourhood - the small town feel and narrow streets of this Barcelona "barrio" lends a unique feel and the streets are dressed and decorated to the maximum and the plaças fill with groups drinking and enjoying the week-long festival till dawn.

Perhaps the first major festival is the Midsummer madness associated with "Sant Joan" or Saint John on the 23rd June. Officially the start of the summer, this is also the shortest night of the year. The 24th June is a public holiday as the locals and tourists enjoy "la berbena" or all-night party on the streets, in the bars and clubs and typically on the beaches of Barceloneta and the Olympic Villages beaches as the revellers watch the sunrise. Also in June is the fantastic Alternative electronic Music festival called Sonar.

In it's 16th year, the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art fills the city in the second/third week of June, as university students worldwide, flock for an end-of-exam-beginning-of-the-summer escape and are never disappointed by both the Day and night events. A number of other summer music festivals are a great reason to visit Barcelona, including the recent Primavera Sound and Summercase alternative music festivals as well as Barcelona Summer Week (new to 2009) and the Circuit Gay and Lesbian dance festival in early August, too.

Steering away from music, in July and August, the "Grec" festival delights audiences in the replica Greek amphitheatre up on Montjüic Mountain. Dance, Circus, Mime, real theatre and plays are the order of the day here, with each year having a particular theme at its core - diverse themes such as women, countries such as Italy, etc. This is a great night out if you love open air theatre.

September sees the end of the summer, and the week long festival of "La Merce" - one of Barcelona's patron saint's, Our Lady of Mercy, celebrates her feast day on the 24th September. The whole city unites in a celebration of the city and it's culture and history - similar to that shown on Saint Georges' day (Sant Jordi) in April - Catalonia's patron saint. La Merce has a carnival-type feel to it, with open air concerts, street theatre and dancing, and traditional processions, such as the famed "correfoc" or fire run, where runners plow through the streets of the Gothic quarter with pyrotechnics, fire-breathing dragons and sparklers galore. This is certainly not for the faint hearted, and new UE regulations on the handling of fireworks may have the correfoc's days numbered - so get to Barcelona for La Merce week while you can!

Finally, and simply in chronological order, is the enchantment of the "Reis" - the days surrounding the Epiphany after Christmas. Unlike other countries and cities, whilst still a public holiday, Christmas day is no big deal in Barcelona. The giving of gifts is saved for the arrival of the 3 Kings (true to tradition in the Biblical story). The 3 "reis magos" arrive on a boat to the Barcelona docks and are paraded around the city streets until late evening, throwing out thousands of sweets to the crowded streets of children and their parents. Paper Kings hats, flags and the anticipation of opening presents and gifts fills the January air with a magical and family feel that won't disappoint.

David Brydon has been living in Barcelona for 9 years and writes about Apartments for rent in Barcelona and regularly contributes to this great Barcelona Guide.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=David_Brydon

No comments:

Post a Comment