Walk into one of the genuine Barcelona districts and you might get to feel like you are entering a new world inside this wonderful city, each of them has a unique history and character, which implode every now and then when celebrations are organized by the locals. Walk around a few days before these festivals happen and you´ll find most neighbors working out preparations on the streets while sharing a cold beer and some tapas. Walk around while the celebrations happen and you´ll feel the local vibes, Barcelona hosts some of the best Spanish Festivals. This is a unique attraction that Barcelona has, and we certainly love it. Plan your vacation days accordingly – these are the best, and most original district fests across Barcelona.
JANUARY ∼ The Procession of the Kings & Party with the locals at Sant Antoni
The new year starts with a traditional celebration that takes place in each district of Barcelona around the 5th of January. The biggest procession in town takes place in the city center where the city officials welcome the three Kings who arrive by boat and then process through decorated streets until they get to the city hall and award children with their expected gifts. In each and other districts the same spectacle can be seen.
A few days later Festa Major de Sant Antoni kick off, and it is the first district festival celebrated in Barcelona and last for one month. It showcases Catalan traditions, such as the Els Tres Tombs parade which is the main highlight of this celebration, plus sardanes (Catalonia’s traditional folk dance), concerts, exhibitions, theater and plenty of family activities, including an artisan beer fair and yummy events for the hungry crowd. This is simply a fantastic thing to do and see in Barcelona during January. And in case you would like to discover Sant Antoni´s foodies’ side check our authentic food tour of Barcelona that takes place here.
FEBRUARY ∼ Santa Eulalia
On 12th February we celebrate Santa Eulalia, Barcelona´s winter festival. In most streets and squares of the city, you can immerse yourself on a diverse array popular culture activities for all ages such as the procession of Laies, the Santa Eulalia parade, the human towers in the diada castellera, sardana dancing, and a fire run (locally known as correfoc) involving fire beasts and devils, this is quite fun and a great experience in Barcelona.
MARCH ∼ Sant Medir de Gràcia
If you are a horse lover, this is the place to be in Barcelona. Along the streets of the Gracia neighborhood beautiful horses and traditional riders followed by lively marching bands that play live music throw sweets to the crowds while they take on their procession and locals dance along.
APRIL ∼ Catalonia’s Valentin Day: Diada de Sant Jordi (St George´s day)
Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia and this is a very special day, a must-see in the streets of Barcelona. Moreover, this is a day of roses, romance, and books. It is the Catalan version of Valentine´s day.
On this day women shall gift a book to the man, and a rose shall be given to the woman. A wonderful tradition that has different origins such as the day when Sant Jordi defeated the dragon whose blood transformed into a flower; the day that commemorates the death of Shakespeare and Pla (a Catalan writer), and the burring of Cervantes – the international books day!
JUNE ∼ The Revetlla de Sant Joan (St. John’s Eve celebrations)
Party all night long on the night of 23rd June celebrating the summer solstice in any of Barcelona neighborhoods with lots of bonfires, fireworks displays, and revelry. Don’t forget your swimsuit in case you are close to the sea as many partygoers will jump into the water as this is the night when water is believed to be full of curative powers. Along the celebration have some cava and taste the traditional Coca de Sant Joan (a Catalan sweet bread). This is what we consider a truly Barcelona attraction.
The Ild District Party (El Born)
One of Barcelona oldest districts, El Born, celebrates its festivities in honor to its patron, Sant Pere. This happens around 21st June, and after a parade goes through the medieval streets of this district, at sunset local authorities give an announcement at the Sant Agusti Convent, and then the fun starts!
JULY ∼ Festes del Poblesec
The Poble-sec is a neighborhood that maintains its own, the very same we showcase during our food tour in the area, a very proud working class and diverse identity expressed on a cheerful and integrating character that makes this area of Barcelona unique. And while the big summer party is happening by the beach, the streets of this iconic district become funky and the activities are unmissable: human towers, music concerts and a bunch of tapas and drinks.
AUGUST ∼ Gracia celebrations
One of the most emblematic celebrations in Barcelona is the Fiestas de Gracia, a week-long celebration taking place in August. The streets of Gracia become alive with decorations done by the neighborhood associations with recycled materials and there is a competition for which street is best decorated as well as music stages set up around the neighborhood. The festivities go throughout the day and night. A big thing to enjoy in Barcelona!
SEPTEMBER ∼ La Merce & La Barceloneta and La Ribera
La Merci is Barcelona´s patron, and locals throw a weeklong party with plenty of things to do all over the city. No one should have the right to miss the castellers (human towers), correfocs (firecracker displays) and gegants (giants). As well as free music concerts and local foods will be available throughout the city. The bursting agenda is worth a check to enjoy this local celebration.
As well, this is the month when La Barceloneta and La Ribera districts get their time to celebrate their traditions. Probably overshadowed by La Merce, it is a genuine celebration and deserves plenty of attention as the others mentioned above. For a glimpse of La Barceloneta history and traditions, check out our Bodegas and Tapas Experience.
OCTOBER ∼ Les Corts & Sarria
For those looking to experience real Barcelona, the one you find at local neighborhoods that represent the unique taste of this wonderful city, we do recommend you to pay a visit to the local festivities of Les Corts and Sarria Districts, those places are totally off the beaten path in Barcelona.
Les Corts: get to see the inaugural ¨correfoc¨ (fire-runs) that goes throughout a number of streets, the traditional giants dance, and the human towers at Comas square on Sunday, and enjoy a unique pastry prepared by the local bakers who prepare a traditional cake similar to Sacher-torte.
Sarria: the last village annexed to Barcelona, celebrates its identity. Many neighbors organize collective diners on the streets, and local schools organize traditional dances with giants, big-heads, and demons. Their giants are quite unique in Barcelona, as they represent the bourgeois and the worker, and were constructed in 1977 (the heaviest and bigger giants in town). During these festivities, the neighbors are divided in two groups and compete with each other. Would you miss who win the celebration?
NOVEMBER ∼ La Castanyada & Festa Major de Sant Andreu de Palomar
On 1st November, La Castanyada (chestnuts), an old Catalonian tradition, is celebrated and families get to the streets of Barcelona to eat roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets. Old traditions say that long standing products such as these ones are somehow a way for the departed to visit us. I am glad their food is delicious and non-scary!
Towards the end of the month, Sant Andreu, one of those districts with a unique character closely tight to its past celebrates their identity. Here the neighborhood associations and centenary cultural centers are the organizers. Unique Giants with human and animal forms, trabucaires, demons, traditional dancers and the famous fire-runs makes us remember what the rural and working-class village Sant Andreu use to be, including the vast number of dovecotes it used to host.
DECEMBER ∼ El Caga tio whishes you a shitty Christmas
This is not really a district celebration, but rather a local tradition that takes places everywhere in town. It basically consists of the idea of a crapping log that evacuates his bowels in the form of candies and gifts when trampled with sticks. It is a unique Catalan affair and the most performed activity by kids throughout December in Barcelona.
Caga Tio waiting for Christmas | © Cyrielle Marlet
We truly hope you enjoyed our insights into Barcelona district celebrations that locals celebrate throughout the year. In case you are visiting the city, we do recommend you pay attention to what is happening and spend some time mingling around with the locals, it is a genuine thing to do in Barcelona. All the best!