The loudest parties in the city
From La Festa Major de Gràcia to Sónar, Barcelona is a place where people like to party, whether it's a music festival or a traditional social event. We rounded up the best events in the city and put together some great tips on how to enjoy these festivals to the fullest.
Spain is a nation of fiesta lovers, but Barcelona is above the national average when it comes to fun and music. If you’re looking for the perfect Barcelona festival, start with our list below. In this city there’s always something going on: whether it’s an independent film festival or a gastronomy event, the yearly calendar is filled with events that celebrate the culture of the city. From the multitude of occasions for fireworks and days off, here are our top choices:
Sónar – a Barcelona festival for electronic music lovers
With a history of over ten years, Sónar is a huge party celebrating music and talent. It takes place every year in June and it’s known for its love for avant-garde musicians and experimental artists. It mixes big names in the industry with up and coming talents in 72 hours of non-stop raves. Lately, it added a technology and creativity congress to it’s program. This happened, to coagulate the numerous creative people from all over the world who come to Sónar.
During the day, parties take place at Fira Montjuïc, while the nighttime events are hosted at Fira Gran Via de L’Hospitalet. The Chemical Brothers, Skrillex, Duran Duran or A$AP Rocky are just some of the names that have held shows at the music celebration that is Sónar. The party does not stop throughout the year, as this Barcelona festival travels the globe (Stockholm, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, New York were all on the Sónar party radar) in various city with gigs that will give you a clue about why you should book a ticket.
When: 16th – 18th June
Tip: Don’t avoid the local bars and clubs during Sónar. The “off program” of this Barcelona festival is just as captivating as the line up.
Sant Joan Festival
This Barcelona festival is a tribute to summer. It is just me or does this make perfect sense? Every country or city should take some time to just celebrate the sun, summer and life. Sant Joan or Saint John is one the 24th of June. It’s a national holiday and Spain so everyone has a day off, but the real fiesta takes place the night before. On the day of the Summer Solstice, in the longest day of the year, everyone tries to bring some light in the year’s shortest night. Fireworks and technically every source of fire can be seen on the streets or on the beach.
The party takes place in every neighborhood and on the beach. Everyone stays out as long as possible, chats, dances and celebrates summer. Whether on a rooftop or on your balcony, the idea is to stay out and enjoy summer. Huge quantities of cava are consumed to mark the official arrival of summer.
When: 23rd/24th of June
Tip: Even though there are parties everywhere, the beach is the place to be for this Barcelona festival.
La Festa Major de Gràcia
Possibly the best Barcelona festival of all. Why? This is a celebration of the people, of everyday locals in the city. They decorate their streets for a chance to win the “best decorated street” award. It is actually a huge, crazy block party. Gràcia is known as an elegant and architecturally iconic district, but in August, it transform for the La Festa Major.
Every little square becomes a concert space with no entry fee and you can try delicious treats and drinks made by locals. Some sell them from the window of their own homes. Papier-mâché or wood ornaments, but also colorful decorative lanterns light up the streets. It is during this Barcelona festival that you cann catch a glimpse of the colles castelleres or the “human towers”. These are acrobats that climb on top of each other and reach jaw-dropping heights.
Tip: Walk the streets to admire the creative decorations inspired by Sar Wars or Alice in Wonderland.
La Festa de la Mercè
A Barcelona festival dedicated to the patron of the city, Lady of Mercy. It all started as a way to bring thanks to the fact that she saved the city from a swarm of locusts in the 17th century. Now, it is the largest street party in the city with hundreds of events. You will feel like you’ve entered the world of carnival. You’ll see the human towers, giant dancers and fireworks. Actually the party ends with an impressive fireworks display in Montjuïc.
When: before or after 24th of September, the actual day of the Lady of Mercy
Tip: Enjoy the free street concerts.
No, you don’t have to go to Rio to enjoy a colorful carnival. The Barcelona Carnival is a tradition that is regaining its strength, after being banned for decades under Franco’s regime. As you might have guessed, everyone dresses up and there are parades all over the city. The best seem to be the ones in the Ribera/El Born area which always end with a battle with balloons and confetti.
The Carnival takes place, according to Catholic tradition, on Ash Wednesday with the burial of the sardine, another tradition that marks the end of the parties and excesses and the beginning of the Lent to Easter.
When: before Ash Wednesday; February/March;
Tip: During this Barcelona festival, take a trip to the Carnival in Sitges. Located 15 kilometers away from the city, this gay&lesbian community knows how to throw a colorful and unique party. The Carnival in Sitges has been taking place for over 100 years.