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Big festivals and major events in Barcelona: Autumn

Festival L’Hora del Jazz

Where: various venues
When: Sundays in Sep
Website: barcelonacultura.bcn.cat
A three-week festival of local jazz acts, with free daytime concerts in public spaces such as Gràcia’s Plaça Vila de Gràcia (normally on Sunday at lunchtime).

Diada Nacional de Catalunya

Where: all over Barcelona
When: 11 Sept
Catalan National Day commemorates Barcelona’s capitulation to the Bourbon army in the 1714 War of the Spanish Succession, a bitter defeat that led to the repression of many Catalan institutions. It’s lost some of its vigour but is still a day for national reaffirmation, with the Catalan flag flying on buses and balconies. There are marches throughout the city, the centre being the statue of Rafael Casanova (who directed the resistance) on the Ronda Sant Pere. Many make a pilgrimage to the monastery at Montserrat, Catalonia’s spiritual heart.

Hipnotik Festival

Where: CCCB
When: mid-Sep
Website: hipnotikfestival.com
Spain's benchmark hip-hop festival pulls in promising line-ups as part of this urban culture event that lasts more than 12 hours. There are also MC and dance competitions, graffiti, exhibitions and talks.

Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM)

Where: various venues
When: during the Festes de la Mercè, Sep (see below)
Tel: 93 427 42 49
BAM stages free concerts, often showcasing jazz and singer-songwriters, on Plaça del Rei; more famous names perform outside the Cathedral, with dance acts at the Fòrum and rumba at Portal de la Pau (near the Museu Marítim). The prime mover of what’s known as So Barcelona (Barcelona Sound), BAM largely promotes leftfield mestissa (vaguely, 'ethnic fusion') in its mission to provide ‘music without borders’.

Festival Asia

Where: various venues
When: late Sep
Website: www.casaasia.eu
This week of twirling saris, Chinese acrobats, music, workshops and stalls from some 20 Asian countries, has expanded from its former base at the Mercat de les Flors to take in a number of venues, some in open-air settings. The festival now coincides with the Festes de la Mercè (see below).

Festes de la Mercè

Where: all over Barcelona
When: around 24 Sep (for a week)
Website:
www.bcn.cat/merce
This week-long event in honour of the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of Mercy, opens with giants, dragons and capgrosses in the Plaça Sant Jaume. It’s followed by more than 600 events including sardanes and correfocs (a tamer version for children, followed by the biggest and wildest of the year on the Saturday night). Other highlights include dazzling fireworks displays, mapping projections, free concerts, street theatre, and a heap of activities for children. The pressure on the centre has been eased of late: many events are now staged up at Montjuïc Castle or in the former textile factory, Fabra i Coats, in Sant Andreu. Even so, around 100,000 people descend on the Barri Gòtic to watch the final parade.

Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya

Where: Passeig de Lluís Companys, Ciutat Vella
When: during Festes de la Mercè, Sep (see above)
Tel & website: 93 552 48 00/www20.gencat.cat
This outdoor wine and cava fair has been running since 1980 and now showcases more than 400 labels from around 50 Catalan bodegas. Big names include Torres, Freixenet, Codorníu, Pinord and Mont Marçal; also on show are fine cheeses and charcuterie. You can buy packs of tickets for wine and cava tastings (comes with a souvenir glass) and another set of tickets for food tastings.

Festa Major de la Barceloneta

Where: all over Barceloneta
When: late Sep, early Oct
Tel & website: 93 221 72 44
This tightly knit maritime community throws itself into the local festes with incredible gusto. The fun kicks off with fireworks on the beach, a 24-hour football tournament, falcons (acrobatic groups), sardana dancing and a free tasting of traditional crispy coca bread washed down with muscatel, and ends with more of the same ten days later. In between, expect parades, music, fire-breathing dragons, open-air cinema and bouncy castles. Look out, too, for a character called General Bum Bum, who parades with a wooden cannon but stops periodically to fire sweets into crowds of scrabbling children.

Swab Barcelona International Contemporary Art Fair

Where: Fira de Barcelona
When: 1-4 Oct
Website: http://swab.es/
Swab is the only Contemporary Art Fair founded by an art collector with a mission to break with the elitist and hermetic idea that often surrounds the contemporary art scene, making it more accessible to the general public. The fair creates opportunities for emerging galleries and artists just starting out in their careers.

Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya

Where: Auditori Melia Sitges, C/Joan Salvat Papasseit 38
When: 9-18 Oct
Tel & website: 93 894 99 90/www.cinemasitges.com
Sitges’ festival is widely recognised as the leading European festival for gore, horror, sci-fi and fantasy, with screenings (including premières), conferences, and appearances from the leading figures in the rarefied world of genre filmmaking. During the festival, a special late-night train service returns to Barcelona after the final screening of the evening.

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Critics' Choice

Fira de Santa Llúcia Where: Pla de la Seu & Avda de la CatedralWhen: 2-23 DecTel & website: 93 402 70 00/w2.bcn.cat/nadal/enDating from 1786, this traditional Christmas fair has expanded to more than 300 stalls, selling all manner of handcrafted Christmas decorations and gifts, along with mistletoe, poinsettias and Christmas trees. The most popular figure on sale for Nativity scenes is the curious Catalan figure of the caganer (crapper), a small figure crouching over a steaming turd with his trousers around his ankles. Kids line up for a go on the giant caga tió, a huge, smiley-faced ‘shitting log’ that poops out pressies upon being beaten viciously by a stick; smaller versions are on sale at the stalls. There’s also a Nativity scene contest, musical parades and exhibitions, including the popular life-size Nativity scene in Plaça Sant Jaume. Cavalcada dels Reis Where: various venuesWhen: 5 Jan, 5-9pmWebsite: w2.bcn.cat/nadal/enEpiphany is the big Christmas event here, and is marked by the Kings’ Parade. Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar arrive aboard the Santa Eulàlia boat at the bottom of La Rambla before beginning a grand parade around town with a retinue of acrobats, circus clowns and child elves. The route is published in the newspapers, but normally starts at the lower entrance of Ciutadella, running up C/Marquès de l’Argentera and Via Laietana. Later that night, children leave their shoes out on the balcony stuffed with hay for the kings’ camels; in the morning, they’re ei

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Winter festivals and events

Els Grans del Gospel Where: various venuesWhen: DecTel & website: 93 481 70 40/www.theproject.catA three-week festival of international gospel music, born of the gospel section of the International Jazz Festival, which eventually became popular enough to stand alone. Drap-Art Where: CCCB market and FAD exhibition spaceWhen: 13 Dec 2013 - 5 Jan 2014Tel & website: 93 268 48 89/www.drapart.orgAn international creative recycling festival, with concerts, performances, workshops and a Christmas market. Fira de Santa Llúcia Where: Pla de la Seu & Avda de la CatedralWhen: late Nov-late DecTel & website: 93 402 70 00/www.bcn.cat/nadalDating from 1786, this traditional Christmas fair has expanded to more than 300 stalls, selling all manner of handcrafted Christmas decorations and gifts, along with mistletoe, poinsettias and Christmas trees. The most popular figure on sale for Nativity scenes is the curious Catalan figure of the caganer (crapper), a small figure crouching over a steaming turd with his trousers around his ankles. Kids line up for a go on the giant caga tió, a huge, smiley-faced ‘shitting log’ that poops out pressies upon being beaten viciously by a stick; smaller versions are on sale at the stalls. There’s also a Nativity scene contest, musical parades and exhibitions, including the popular life-size Nativity scene in Plaça Sant Jaume. Fira de Sant Eloi Where: C/Argenteria, BornWhen: 1-24 DecTel: 93 319 84 51Neither as sprawling nor as lively as the Fira de Santa Llúcia

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Spring festivals and events

Most popular hotels Els Casals This magnificent country house hotel, surrounded by gardens and animals, is ideal for a few days rest and very suitable for children. It has ten exterior rooms, three of which have living rooms. The hotel’s garden produces many of the ingredients which are later served in the restaurant, which specializes in quality cuisine, marked by the seasonality of the produce, and has won a number of major awards in recent years. You can also buy homemade cold sausages here. Hotel BestPrice Diagonal Located 5 minutes’ walk from Diagonal Park and 100 metres from Selva de Mar Metro Station, Hotel BestPrice Diagonal is a new hotel with modern décor. Free Wi-Fi is available in all areas.Each room is air conditioned and offers a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. The modern private bathroom offers a shower and free toiletries.There are various bars and restaurants within a 5-minute walk of the property. Barcelona’s Diagonal Mar Shopping Centre and the CCIB Convention Centre are both 200 metres away.Breakfast is offered in the café beside the hotel, with discounted prices for guests.Plaza Catalunya is 10 minutes away by metro and Mar Bella Beach can be reached in 10 minutes on foot.BestPrice Diagonal has a tour desk and a ticket service. Bicycle and car rental are also available. DoubleTree by Hilton La Mola “Where the little things mean everything”, says the hotel’s slogan. Hardly anybody knows, but between Sabadell and Terrassa, there is a paradise: Torre

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Summer festivals and events

Most popular hotels Els Casals This magnificent country house hotel, surrounded by gardens and animals, is ideal for a few days rest and very suitable for children. It has ten exterior rooms, three of which have living rooms. The hotel’s garden produces many of the ingredients which are later served in the restaurant, which specializes in quality cuisine, marked by the seasonality of the produce, and has won a number of major awards in recent years. You can also buy homemade cold sausages here. Hotel BestPrice Diagonal Located 5 minutes’ walk from Diagonal Park and 100 metres from Selva de Mar Metro Station, Hotel BestPrice Diagonal is a new hotel with modern décor. Free Wi-Fi is available in all areas.Each room is air conditioned and offers a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. The modern private bathroom offers a shower and free toiletries.There are various bars and restaurants within a 5-minute walk of the property. Barcelona’s Diagonal Mar Shopping Centre and the CCIB Convention Centre are both 200 metres away.Breakfast is offered in the café beside the hotel, with discounted prices for guests.Plaza Catalunya is 10 minutes away by metro and Mar Bella Beach can be reached in 10 minutes on foot.BestPrice Diagonal has a tour desk and a ticket service. Bicycle and car rental are also available. DoubleTree by Hilton La Mola “Where the little things mean everything”, says the hotel’s slogan. Hardly anybody knows, but between Sabadell and Terrassa, there is a paradise: Torre

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