Barcelona Travel Guide


Barcelona is perhaps less chronically addicted to partying than cities in the south of Spain, but it puts in a fair effort, with some wild occasions dotting the calendar year-round. There's plenty of dancing and a few fancy-dress parades during the 10-day Carnaval in February/March.

Barcelona celebrates 15 official holidays a year, including all the major Catholic festivals as well as New Year's Day (1 January), Labour Day (1 May) and Spanish National Day (12 October).

On 23 April, the Dia de Sant Jordi, also the Day of the Book, is a local festival celebrating Catalunya's patron saint. The Berbena de Sant Joan (also known as La Nit del Foc, or Fire Night) kicks off midsummer celebrations on 23 June with drinking, dancing and fireworks. Barcelona brims with music, dance and theatre during Festival del Grec, held from late June to August, and around 15 August the Festa Major de Gràcia sees the streets of Gràcia decorated and full of dancing and music.

The last huge hoorah of the summer is the Festes de la Mercè, celebrated around 24 September, which includes concerts, dancing, a swimming race across the harbour, and a correfoc (fire race). During the International Jazz Festival from late October through to the end of November, the city finally cools with some jazz and blues.

Public Holidays
May 1 - Labour Day
Jan 1 - New Year's Day
Sep 11 - Catalan National Day
Aug 15 - Feast of the Assumption
Mar/Apr - Good Friday
Jan 6 - Reis (Epiphany or Three Kings Day)
Mar/Apr - Easter Monday
Jun 24 - Feast of St John the Baptist
May/Jun - Whit Monday
Oct 12 - Spanish National Day
Sep 24 - Festes de la Mercè
Dec 6 - Constitution Day
Dec 26 - Boxing Day or St Stephen's Day
Dec 25 - Christmas Day
Dec 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception

When to Go

The combination of tourists and business travellers visiting Barcelona means hotels are busy for most of the year. Spring and early summer is the best time to be in the city. The weather is usually pleasant, the number of tourists manageable and the city humming. High summer (mid-July to late August) is asphyxiating - many locals get the hell out and leave it to the guiris (foreigners). September isn't bad; the city recovers its normal rhythms, the heat eases and tourist numbers drop, but the weather can be dodgy. For real rain, hang about in October. Winter isn't especially distressing, but you will want a room with heating.

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