Big festivals and major events in Barcelona: Winter

Els Grans del Gospel

Where: various venues
When: Dec
Tel & website: 93 481 70 40/www.theproject.cat
A 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 space
When: Dec 19, 2014 – Jan 4, 2015
Tel & website: 93 268 48 89/www.drapart.org
An international creative recycling festival, with concerts, performances, workshops and a Christmas market.

Fira de Santa Llúcia

Where: Pla de la Seu & Avda de la Catedral
When: late Nov-late Dec
Tel & website: 93 402 70 00/www.bcn.cat/nadal
Dating 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 (literally, 'the shitter'), 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 Sagrada Família

Where: Plaça Sagrada Família, Eixample
When: 1-23 Dec
Tel & website: 93 402 70 00/www.bcn.cat/nadal
The Christmas Fair at the Sagrada Família has been around since the 1960s and has become one of the most traditional Christmas markets in the Eixample, with about 100 stalls selling gifts and decorations. Not to mention that it adds to the whole seasonal feel by creating a picture-perfect Christmas card around the Sagrada Família itself.

Nadal & Sant Esteve (Christmas Day & Boxing Day)

Where: various venues
When:
25 & 26 Dec
The Catalan equivalent of the Christmas midnight Mass is the missa del gall (cockerel’s mass), held at dawn. Later, the whole family enjoys a traditional Christmas feast of escudella i carn d’olla (a meaty stew), seafood and roast truffled turkey, finishing off with great ingots of turrón. The caga tió (see above; Fira de Santa Llúcia) gives small gifts, but the real booty doesn’t arrive until the night of 5 January (see below; Cavalcada dels Reis).

El Dia dels Sants Innocents

Where: all over Barcelona
When: 28 Dec
The name is an incongruous reference to King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, but in fact this is a cheerful local version of April Fool’s Day, with cut-out newspaper figures attached to the backs of unsuspecting victims. The media also introduces fake stories into the day’s coverage.

Cap d’Any (New Year’s Eve)

Where: various venues
When: 31 Dec & 1 Jan
In Spain, New Year’s Eve tends to be a time for family dinners, with most people emerging to party after midnight, but there is always a group of revellers to be found in Plaça Catalunya. The drill is to wear red underwear for luck in the coming year, and to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime of the clock, at midnight. It’s harder than you’d think, and tinned, pre-peeled versions are available. During the day, look out for L’Home dels Nassos, the man who has as many noses as days the year has left (it being the last day, the sly old fox has only one), who parades and throws sweets to the children.

Cavalcada dels Reis

Where: various venues
When: 5 Jan, 5pm-9pm
Website: www.bcn.cat/nadal
Epiphany 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 either full of presents or edible sugar coal depending on their behaviour the previous year. The following day (6 Jan) is a holiday.

Festa dels Tres Tombs

Where: Sant Antoni
When: 17 Jan
St Anthony’s day, naturally enough, also marks the festa major of the district (starting before the feast day and going on for a week); all the usual ingredients of music and gegants here include a monstrous, symbolic, fire-breathing pig – the form the devil took when tempting the saint. Anthony is patron saint of animals, and on his feast day it’s still the custom to bring pets to the church of St Anthony to be blessed. Afterwards, horsemen ride three circuits (tres tombs) in a formal procession from Ronda Sant Antoni, through Plaça Catalunya, down La Rambla and along C/Nou de la Rambla.

Sa Pobla a Gràcia

Where: Gràcia, around Plaça del Diamant, Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
When: 31 Jan
Another celebration in honour of St Anthony, who is one of the world’s most venerated saints, this one imported from Mallorca. Two days of Balearic folk festivities see street bonfires, parades of dragons and giants, human towers and candlelit singing (in mallorquín) in the squares.

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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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Spring festivals and events

Festes de Sant Medir de Gràcia Where: Gràcia to Sant Cugat & backWhen: 3 MarWebsite: www.santmedir.orgOn 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.  Mutek Where: Convent de Sant Agustí, Sala Apolo, MoogWhen: 5-8 MarWebsite: www.mutek.orgThe 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 five years. There's a Digi_Section daytime conference programme (Q&A sessions, workshops, demos) and of course electronic music every night. Confirmed acts for 2014 include the UK's Andy Stott, 10 Years of Hyperdub feat. Kode 9, and Scratcha Dub; and Laurel Halo from the States, among others. Zurich Marató de Barcelona Where: Avinguda María CristinaWhen: 16 Mar, 8.30am-2.30pmWebsite: www.zurichmaratobarcelona.comThe Barcelona Marathon celebrates its 35th year in 2014. 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. El Feile Where: various venuesWhen: week of 17 MarTel & website: 93 423 76 68/www.elfeile.comThis Saint Patrick’

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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 festivals 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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