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Barcelona has an exuberant cultural scene throughout the year supplying no shortage of festivals, concerts, parties and food celebrations from which to choose. With little effort you’ll find something interesting going on each month, but here are a few highlights to look for in 2013.
January: EAT calçots
Winter means onions in Barcelona, and all across Catalonia. Long green onions called “calçots” are grilled and served charred on roofing tiles hot from the barbecue. Called a “calçotada,” this multi-course lunch begins with calçots with romesco dipping sauce, followed by a main course of barbecued meats (lamb, rabbit, sausage), grilled vegetables and white beans. When diners begin loosening their belt another notch, waiters know to bring out the cava, desserts and coffee. All of this feasting will set you back about €30 per person (or more).
I’d suggest sampling calçots in the center of Barcelona at Restaurant L’Antic Forn, C/ Pintor Fortuny 28, 08001, Barcelona, Spain.
February: DANCE in Sitges
February 6-13, 2013
From February 6th to the 13th, charming Sitges, about an hour south of Barcelona by train, is the place to be for feathers, sequins and all-night drinking and dancing. Carnaval (like Mardi Gras) is celebrated with gusto in Sitges, and while it is not Rio, it’s still a blast. Though the Canary Islands and Cadiz host the top carnaval parties in Spain, Sitges is by far the best choice in Catalonia. Make an overnight jaunt of it and book a hotel for a day or two, though be sure to do so in advance as merrymakers come from all over Europe to get down in Sitges. Read more on the Sitges tourism Web site.
March: PRAY during Holy Week
March 24-31, 2013
Easter comes early this year, celebrated in Spain from March 24th to the 31st. Easter Holy Week or Semana Santa (or Spring Break!) is a big deal in Spain, though more vibrant and passionate in the south than in Catalonia.
However, there will be Easter paraphernalia all over Barcelona, from woven palm fronds to intricate chocolate sculptures in the candy shop windows. This week is a popular travel week for locals and some shops might be closed. Plan ahead, as you may find higher rates for hotels in Barcelona during Semana Santa.
May: SING at Primavera Sound
May 20-26, 2013
Usually one of the prettiest months in Barcelona, May offers warm spring days and one of the city’s largest music festivals, Primavera Sound. On from May 20th to the 26th, the line-up of musicians has not yet been finalized so check in with them on their web site closer to the date. Note that a full pass for the shows goes for €160, but is a good value considering how many concerts there are to choose from.
June: CAROUSE at San Juan
June 23, 2013
Party-animals will want to be in Barcelona for San Juan or Sant Joan on the night of June 23, 2013. Second only to Barcelona’s La Mercè festival in September, this summer solstice blowout is a wild all-nighter staged on the Mediterranean seashore. Head to the beach to see it crammed with bonfires, barbecues, music and revelers of all ages. Beware of the fireworks exploding overhead, which may be let off by tipsy locals. Read more
September: REVEL during La Mercè
September 15-24, 2013
Barcelona’s La Mercè is one week of live music, street food, cinema, dance and cultural activities galore to honor the city’s patron saint. September 24th is the holiday, but the week leading up to the main day is packed with events, most of them taking place in the old city center. La Mercè marks the end of the summer festival season with one last, loud, hurrah.
Other excellent events coming up:
April – Sant Jordi’s Day in Barcelona is the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day, held on the 23rd.
June – Sonar Music Festival draws fans from all over the globe.
October – In Edit Film festival features music documentaries in several Barcelona cinemas. One of the best of the many that come through Barcelona.