Things to Do
Essential museums, monuments, walks, talks and tours in Barcelona
- This weekend in Barcelona
- La Mercè: BCN's big party
- Running in Barcelona
- September's must-see art
- Barceloneta prawn route
What's on in Barcelona
It's not just about Sónar and Primavera Sound. For an unforgettable year of music, art and cultural experiences, follow Time Out's guide to festivals and events. The coming months promise an endless array of events showcasing the best in Catalan and international culture - from hip hop and documentary filmmaking to religious and traditional celebrations. Plan your year here.
This week and beyond
La Mercè and Culture Festival of Stockholm (this year's guest city) have jointly produced the show that will be projected on the facade of City Hall. It's a creation by audiovisual communication studio NueveOjos, which has developed the script with David Lillo, of the Central Attic of Screenwriters. For the first time, the 'mapping' at the Mercè takes the form of a fictional story. The project, directed by Mariona Omedes, tells a love story between two buildings where it will be screened: Barcelona's City Hall in Plaça Sant Jaume and Arvfurstens Palats, home of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Catalan illustrators have also collaborated on the project.
One of the most anticipated parts of the Mercè festivities is without a doubt the programme of concerts and DJ sets. Every year Barcelona vibrates with the sounds of top local and international groups that you know and love, and of course it's always great to check out new acts to fall for and add to your playlists. This year there are a total of 89 concerts from groups representing 14 countries (especally from this year's guest country, Sweden), who will fill the official stages with their own particular sounds. Check out all the free music at Plaça dels Àngels, Plaça de Sant Jaume, Plaça de Joan Coromines, the Moll de la Fusta, the Antiga Fàbrica Damm, Plaça Catalunya, Av de la Catedral, Av de Montjuïc, the Parc del Fòrum, and the new 'Mediterràniament' stage at Bogatell beach. Variety reigns – from pop to hip hop, electronic to reggae, everyone will be able to dance to their favourite beat.
In the early 20th century in the Parc de la Ciutadella there was a funfair called Saturno Park. La Mercè is getting in on the vintage trend and bringing back an amusement park like those that were around in the 1950s and 1960s. It's taken the collaboration of many to pull it off. The company Comediants, directed by Jaume Bernadet, introduces us to characters like Madame Brigitte Rebost and Don Genaro Estraperlista in a show that involves all the senses. Meet Herta Frankel's magnificent puppets, take a spin on the carousels, ride the ponies, enjoy all the extravagant attractions of France's Régis Masclet, and the 'Automatàrium' show from the David Berga company, featuring automatons that seem so real that they just might be at that. At Saturno Park you'll get non-stop surprises, humour, dance, street theatre and more. And the park doesn't close at night, when you'll find singing busts, lights and colours in the waterfalls... all the fantasy and magic of a park that lives on.
As usual during the Mercè festivities, Montjuïc Castle hosts contemporary circus arts from Mercè Arts de Carrer. Some 30 circus companies from around the world gather at the castle for three days to perform various techniques and disciplines. Companies from here as well as from Sweden, France, Argentina, Mexico and the United States will show off their stuff. The Montjuïc Castle Combined Circus has been coordinated and directed from Stockholm by director and choreographer Hans Marklund. Coming from Stockholm are Jan Unestam, Patrik Elmnert 5 & Toni Pezzo, and Anton Graaf & Einar Kling-Odencarnts. Catalan artists include Guillem Albà, Les Capgirades, José Luis Redondo, Irene Estradé and Sergio González.The Ateneo Popular 9Barris bring a combo of six international and local companies of trapeze artists, jugglers, rope walkers and acrobats.
The Asia Festival celebrates its 13th edition this year with a total of 11 international performances over the course of 6 days on 8 different stages in Barcelona. And the best bit is that 10 of them are free. (The performance of 'Don Quixote, the Knight-errant' from the Guizhou Peking Opera costs just €6.) More than 150 artists representing 13 Asian countries are set to participate. Where can you see them? In the Plaça dels Àngles, the Plaça Joan Coromines, the MACBA auditorium, the Francesca Bonnemaison space, the Plaça de la Catedral, the Ateneu Barcelonès, the Modernist Sant Pau building and the CaixaFòrum. You've got plenty of chances for a meeting with Asian culture.
The Fabra Observatory is the stage for another year of a one-of-a-kind event that combines gastronomy and science. Summer nights are full of science, astronomy and gastronomy in one of the most impressive viewpoints of the city. The evening begins with a gastronomic proposal designed with astronomy in mind, with quality ingredients and good food served on the terrace at 9pm. After the meal is a 30-minute science talk, with questions taken from the audience. Afterwards it's a visit to the museum, the Noucentisme hall, and the telescope, and then it's into the hall with the great dome, which still boasts original materials. From there you can observe distant constellations, stars and much of the solar system with the 1904 telescope, one of the largest and oldest in Europe that's still in operation.
- Camí de l'Observatori, s/n, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, 08035
- Fri Sep 19 - Sat Oct 11
The first edition of 'Van Van. Mercat Gastronòmada' takes place on September 19, 20, 21, 23 and 24 in the Parc de la Ciutadella, as part of the Mercè festivities. For five days (with the 22nd as a day off), the Parc de la Ciutadella fills up with food vans and trucks spread out all over the park where cooks from various countries and food specialities offer visitors a wide range of quality, healthy and affordable eats. This project attempts to make good use of public spaces as a form of celebrating and sharing through good food. It's a civic street project that turns squares and parks into a giant dining room.