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Big festivals and major events in Barcelona: Spring

Festes de Sant Medir de Gràcia

Where: Gràcia to Sant Cugat & back
When: 1 Mar
Website: www.santmedir.org
On or around the feast day of St Emeterius (Sant Medir in Catalan), for almost 200 years colourfully decorated horse-drawn carts have gathered around the Plaça Trilla to ride up to his hermitage in the Collserola hills. The most popular element are the carts that circle the streets of Gràcia and shower the crowd with 100 tons of blessed boiled sweets.


Where: Convent de Sant Agustí, Sala Apolo, Moog
When: 4-7 Mar
Website: www.mutek.org
The International Festival for Digital Creativity and Electronic Music, which got its start in Montreal back in 1999, has been making sound waves in Barcelona for the past six years. There's a Digi_Section daytime conference programme (Q&A sessions, workshops, demos) and of course electronic music every night. Confirmed acts for 2015 include TalaboMan (Spain's John Talabot & Axel Boman from Sweden), Move D (Germany), Murcof (Mexico) & Simon Geilfus (France), Herman Kolgen (Canada) and many more international acts.

Zurich Marató de Barcelona

Where: Plaça Espanya
When: 15 Mar, 8.30am-2.30pm
Website: www.zurichmaratobarcelona.com
The Barcelona Marathon celebrates its 36th year in 2015. The marathon course runs throughout the city streets, so you might want to check the website whether you're participating, watching, or just want to know where traffic will be diverted on the day.

Setmana Santa (Holy Week)

Where: various venues
When: Wk leading up to Easter
Easter for Catalans is a relatively sober affair, with none of the pageantry embraced by their southern cousins. The main event is the blessing of the palms on diumenge de rams (Palm Sunday). Crowds surge into the cathedral clutching bleached palm fronds bought from stalls around the city; these are then used to bring luck to households. On Good Friday, a series of small processions and blessings takes place in front of the cathedral. On Easter Sunday, godparents dole out the mones: chocolate confections, more elaborate than humble Easter eggs.

Guitar BCN festival

Where: various venues
When: Feb-July
Tel & website: 93 481 70 40/www.theproject.es
This prestigious guitar-based music festival has the ability to attract world-class players. Recent editions have included Lucinda Williams, The Stranglers, Eli Paperboy Reed and Bryan Ferry. Confirmed acts for 2015 so far feature James Vincent McMorrow, Jolie Holland and The Jayhawks. Styles span everything from flamenco to Latin sounds, classical guitar and gypsy jazz.

Barcelona Beer Festival

Where: Sala Marqués Comillas del Museu Marítim de Barcelona
When: 13-15 Apr
Website: www.barcelonabeerfestival.com
Some 300 different types of craft beer served in rotation from the bar's 50 taps, with 70 of the 300 from foreign brewers, and the rest, Catalan and Spanish, many of them being tasted for the first time in the country. The organisers have said the festival is akin to a living thing: beers that are served on Friday will be changed each day following. Most brands run between just €2 and €3. To accompany your drinks, there are also tapas, dishes, pasties, crepes, and cheeses. The beers are served at three different temperatures, with careful attention paid to the ideal service for each beer, and pulled by staff who are well trained in pouring a glass on tap.

Món Llibre

Where: Various venues
When: 18-19 Apr
Website: monllibre.bcn.cat
This two-day 'World of Books' festival dedicated to the youngest readers, celebrates its 11th anniversary in 2015 with fun activities and readings to introduce children to the wonderful world of books.

Fira de la Terra

Where: Parc de la Ciutadella and Passeig Lluís Companys
When: 25-26 Apr
Website: www.diadelaterra.org
The Fira de la Terra is a two-day eco-festival to celebrate Earth Day (22 April), although it’s normally held on the nearest weekend to the actual day. There are handicrafts, food stalls and performances, along with talks on environmental issues, though most of the activities are aimed at children.

Sant Jordi

Where: La Rambla & all over Barcelona
When: 23 Apr
Website: www.bcn.cat/stjordi
On the feast day of Sant Jordi (St George), the patron saint of Catalonia, nearly every building bears the red and gold Catalan flag, while bakeries sell Sant Jordi bread streaked with red 'sobrassada' sausage pâté. Red roses decorate the Palau de la Generalitat and the city’s many statues and paintings of George in all his dragon-slaying glory. It’s said that as the drops of the dragon’s blood fell, they turned into red flowers – and for more than five centuries, this has been the Catalan version of St Valentine’s Day. Men traditionally gave women a rose tied to an ear of wheat, and women reciprocated with a book; this is also ‘the Day of the Book’. It accounts for an amazing 10 percent of Catalonia’s annual book sales, and street stalls and bookshops give good discounts.

D'A: Festival Internacional de Cinema d'Autor

Where: Various venues
When: 24 Apr - 3 May
Website: www.cinemadautor.cat
The Independent Film Festival in Barcelona isn't just about the chance to see films that you otherwise couldn't; it also focuses on the main concerns of contemporary cinema. The festival is also establishing itself as a springboard for Catalan filmmakers who bet their all to make where they call home a bit less small in the world of cinema.

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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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Summer festivals and events

Sónar Where: various venues When: 12-14 JunWebsite: www.sonar.es The three-day International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art (or Sónar, as it’s more snappily known) remains a must for anyone into electronic music, contemporary urban art and media technologies. The event is divided into two distinct parts. Sónar by Day comprises multimedia art, record fairs, conferences, exhibitions and sound labs, while DJs play. Later, Sónar by Night means a scramble for the desperately overcrowded shuttle bus out to the vast hangars of the site in Hospitalet (tip: share a cab between four – it’ll cost you the same), where concerts and DJs are spread over SónarClub, SónarPark and SónarPub. There's also SónarKids, with music, workshops and puppet shows on the Sunday at the Sónar by Day site. Confirmed so far for the 21st edition in 2014 are Massive Attack with their new show, Plastikman and Richie Hawtin, and some of the best worldwide electronica talents, including Four Tet, James Holden, Jon Hopkins, Woodkid, and I Am Legion, among others. Pride Barcelona Where: various venuesWhen: 19-29 JunWebsite: www.pridebarcelona.orgBarcelona shows its gay pride over the course of 10 days in venues all over the city, including talks, demonstrations, parties, concerts, activities for kids and families, and the big parade. Sant Joan Where: all over BarcelonaWhen: night of 23 JunIn the weeks leading up to the feast of St John, the streets become a terrifying war zone of firecrackers and cowe

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Autumn festvals and events

Festival L’Hora del Jazz Where: various venuesWhen: Sundays 1-22 SepWebsite: www.amjm.orgA 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 BarcelonaWhen: 11 SeptCatalan 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: CCCBWhen: mid-SepWebsite: hipnotikfestival.comSpain'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 venuesWhen: during the Festes de la Mercè, Sep (see below)Tel: 93 427 42 49BAM 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

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Winter 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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