50 things to do in Barcelona in 2014: spring
Highlights of Barcelona's spring 2014 events
Which of Time Out's 50 great things to do in Barcelona in 2014 are on in spring? A marathon, an international comic fair, classical music concerts, a huge guitar festival, one of the food and drinks industry's biggest trade fairs, the massive international music festival Primavera Sound and more.
25th BCN Guitar Festival
Now in its 25th year, the BCN Guitar Festival doesn’t stand still and has expanded to include not only classical guitar and established virtuoso performers, but an increasing amount of alternative bands and musicians. It has also become more international over time, and in 2013 featured stellar names like Eels, Ron Sexsmith, Lucinda Williams and Marisa Monte, among others. The festival has stayed true to its mission of offering an eclectic and cosmopolitan programme. With the pedigree that the festival has shown in the past in terms of both musicians and the level of musicianship, from flamenco master Paco de Lucia to the dazzling fret board acrobatics and wizardry of Paul Gilbert, this year’s edition is unlikely to disappoint fans of the world’s favourite six-stringed instrument.
- Various venues
Festa de Sant Jordi
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 red roses decorate the Palau de la Generalitat and the city’s many statues and paintings of George in all his dragon-slaying glory. For more than five centuries, this has been the Catalan version of St Valentine’s Day, when couples exchange red roses and books – this is also the ‘Day of the Book’, perhaps because the date coincides with International Book Day and, not by happenstance, with the date of death of both William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes. It’s a great day to simply stroll around the streets of the city, browsing the book stalls, smelling the roses and enjoying the atmosphere, or you can take advantage of the fact that it's open doors day at the city hall in Plaça Sant Jaume and visit its ancient galleries and halls.
- Various venues
- Wed Apr 23
This year sees the 300th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona to the Bourbon troops during the war of Spanish Succession and the consequent loss of Catalonia’s traditional rights and liberties. Tricentenari BCN is a programme of events curated by Catalan journalist Toni Soler designed to commemorate and understand those events, creating a dialogue between the past and the present that will allow us to relate the history of Catalonia to its present and future aspirations.
- Various venues
- Until Wed Dec 31
Festival del Mil.lenni
Running from November to May, Barcelona’s Millennium Festival has consolidated itself as one of Spain’s leading music festivals through the sheer quality and diversity of the concerts that make up its extensive programme. The 2013-2014 edition features appearances by a variety of interesting artists ranging from local folk rock outfit Manel, scheduled to appear at L’Auditori on the 2nd of February, and eclectic flamenco singer Miguel Poveda who will be appearing at the Liceu opera house on 6th of February, to German singer Ute Lemper (Palau de la Mùsica on February 7th) and maverick Bosnian musician and composer Goran Bregovic, who will be presenting his latest album with the Gypsy Brass Band accompanied by Bulgarian voices, entitled 'Champagne for Gypsies', at the Palau de la Mùsica on the 29th of April. The festival finishes in May and starts up again in November. Watch this space for the latest on the 2014-2015 line-up.
- Various venues
- Nov 2014 - May 2015
© Pep Herrero
Castellers and La Festa Catalana
The deeply loved local tradition of building human towers, in various formations, can be seen during festivals all over Catalonia. It consists of groups of enthusiasts, called colles, who team up on festival days to build and then dismantle human towers. This and other Catalan traditions, from papier-mâché giants to sardana dancing can also be seen every Saturday at 7.30pm in various Old City locations such as the square in front of the Cathedral.
- Various venues
Modernista architect Domènech i Montaner’s hospital is made up of 20 pavilions, abundantly adorned with the flourishes that characterise the architect’s style and set in peaceful gardens that spread over nine blocks in the north-east corner of the Eixample. It’s set at a 45-degree angle from the rest of the Eixample’s grid system, so that it catches more sun. The hour-long guided tour, in Catalan, Spanish, English or French, covers several major parts of the site and the gardens, offering details and curious facts about the building’s history, an overview of the current renovation project and fascinating insights into early 20th-century Barcelona society. English language tours set off from the meeting point on the corner of C/Sant Antoni Maria Claret and C/Independència.
- Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, Eixample
Barcelona’s history is closely linked to the sea and during its period of maximum splendour, ruled over a maritime empire that stretched from the Balearic Islands to Athens. The city’s Maritime Museum, located in the old port area at the end of the Ramblas, in the old Drasannes shipyards, contains examples of old vessels, including a reproduction of a 16th-century galley, as well as scale models and naval artefacts. You can also visit the schooner Santa Eulàlia, moored in the nearby Port Vell.
- Av. de les Drassanes s/n, El Raval, 08001
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Enjoy the best culture, fun and festivals the Catalan capital has to offer in 2014
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Barcelona by area
The city boasts seven kilometres of golden sands, running from the bustling Port Vell to the upscale Port Olímpic and beyond to the Fòrum. Inevitably, this is also where you'll find some of the city's best seafood restaurants.
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 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.
Once a no-go area for tourists, the Raval is being transformed. Some of its gems have been around for years - Gaudí's medievalist Palau Güell was an early attempt at gentrification - but others are newer.
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 is a Modernista showcase: its buildings include the Sagrada Família, La Pedrera and the Hospital de Sant Pau.
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.
Sarrià was its own independent town until 1921, when it was gobbled up by Barcelona and became the city's new uptown area, not only for its geographical location but also for its more posh homes, shops and restaurants.