Big festivals and major events in Barcelona: Autumn



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Festival L’Hora del Jazz

Where: various venues
When: Sundays in Sep
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
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
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)
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/
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
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/
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.

LEM Festival

Where: various venues, Gràcia
When: Oct
Tel & website: 93 237 37 37/
A three-week-long, well-organised festival of multimedia art and experimental music. It mostly covers electronica, but also includes jazz and rock. Concerts are generally free.

Mercat de Mercats

Where: Av. de la Catedral
When: late Oct
The annual Market of the Markets is the perfect place to see all Barcelona's municipal markets have to offer, featuring fresh, colourful and scrumptious offerings, both sweet and savoury. Top chefs are often on hand as well.

48h Open House BCN

Where: all over Barcelona
When: mid- to late Oct
This two-day citywide open house is when you get access to more than 150 different buildings in all of Barcelona's districts. It's all about architecture appreciation and learning about the city's history through its ruins and buildings, but there are also related activities and tours you can pick and choose.

Sâlmon dance festival

Where: Mercat de les Flors
When: late Nov, early Dec
Tel & Website: 93 256 26 00 /
A two-week dance festival that brings in performances around Europe, focusing on the fresh, the new and that which dares to go against the current.

Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona

Where: various venues
When: late Oct - early Dec
Tel & website: 93 481 70 40/
One of Europe’s most well-respected jazz festivals has grown to embrace everything from bebop to gospel, around a core of mainstream performers that have recently included Chucho Valdés and his Afro-Cuban Messengers, Taylor McFerrin, John Legend, Soweto Gospel Choir, Brandford Marsalis Quartet and Wayne Shorter Quartet. Venues included in the festival’s programme range from the Palau de la Música, Luz de Gas and Razzmatazz to the Liceu, L’Auditori and BARTS; there are also big-band concerts and swing dancing in the Ciutadella park.

In-Edit Beefeater Festival

Where: Aribau Club (Gran Via, 565-567), Aribau Multisales (C/ Aribau, 8)
When: late Oct - early Nov
A well-regarded cinema festival of music documentaries, featuring genres from jazz to flamenco.

La Castanyada

Where: all over Barcelona
When: 31 Oct-1 Nov
All Saints’ Day and the evening before are known as the Castanyada, after the traditional treats of castanyes (roasted chestnuts) – consumed along with moniatos (roasted sweet potatoes) and panellets (small treats made of almond paste and covered in pine nuts). The imported tradition of Halloween has grown in popularity of late, and there are now several celebrations around town. Tots Sants (All Saints’) is also known as the Dia dels Difunts (Day of the Dead); the snacks switch to white, bone-shaped ossos de sant cakes. Thousands visit local cemeteries over the weekend to sprinkle the graves with holy water, leave flowers, hold vigils, and honour and pray for the dead.

Barcelona Manga Fair

Where: Fira de Barcelona
When: 29 Oct - 1 Nov
Four days of manga frenzy at Barcelona's biggest expo venue. Features writers and illustrators, exhibitions and contests. See website for details.

L’Alternativa film festival

Where: CCCB
When: late Nov
For 20 years this film festival has been promoting independent, mostly European, cinema. There are two official sections – Feature Films and Short Films – as well as tributes, premieres, and work by little-known filmmakers and up-and-coming directors. You can also try your hand at workshops.

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The Barri Gòtic

A stroll through the medieval alleyways and secluded squares of the Old City is the best possible introduction to Barcelona and the starting point for most visitors upon arrival in the city.

The Born and Sant Pere

The pedestrianised Passeig del Born, the Born's main artery, is one of Barcelona's prettiest thoroughfares, bookended by a magnificent 19th-century market building and a glorious 14th-century church.

The Raval

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Montjuïc & Poble-sec

It's often left off visitors' itineraries, but the hill of Montjuïc merits a wander. In summer, the hill is a few degrees cooler than the city below, and its many parks and gardens are excellent places for a shady picnic.

The Eixample

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Gràcia was an independent town that was swallowed up as the city spread, but it retains its own identity and is one of the most popular and vibrant districts in the city.


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