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Piromusical de la Mercè
© Boule Piromusical de la Mercè

Barcelona festivals and events: the best of autumn

All the big Barcelona festivals and events you need to know about to celebrate autumn in the city

By Time Out Barcelona Editors and Jan Fleischer
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Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that events are still happening.

There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona during autumn, from enjoying jazz and hip-hop music festivals to Festes de la Mercè, which celebrates the patron saint of Barcelona with firework displays, free concerts and activities for the children. There's also Catalonia's National Day, the Sitges film festival (heavy on the horror and fantasy), the wildly popular In-Edit film festival of music documentaries, and more.

RECOMMENDED: Barcelona festivals and events: the best of the year

Barcelona: Autumn Festivals and Events

Festival Ciutat Flamenco

Where: Mercat de les Flors
When: May 16-31, 2019 (2020 dates TBA) [POSTPONED FROM spring. New dates TBA.]
Website: https://ciutatflamenco.com/
Mercat de les Flors dedicated the Ciutat Flamenco festival of 2013 to Carmen Amaya with a full year of celebrations and the inauguration of the Sala Carmen Amaya auditorium. The Mercat has a contemporary, transcultural and universal vision of flamenco, featurng performances by new artists, dialogue between music and dance, artistic residencies, ‘tapeos’ and more, in order to examine and bring up to date the tradition and future of this art. Organised jointly by Mercat de les Flors and Taller de Músics, the festival presents the most innovative face of flamenco, opening the traditions up to new interpretations while maintaining flamenco as an art deeply rooted in the culture.

Festival L’Hora del Jazz

Where: various venues
When: Sundays in Sep (2020 dates TBA)
Website: barcelonacultura.bcn.cat
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).

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Diada Nacional de Catalunya

Where: all over Barcelona
When: Sep 11
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.

Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM)

Where: various venues
When: during the Festes de la Mercè, Sep 20-23, 2019 (2020 dates TBA)
Tel & website: 93 427 42 49/www.barcelona.cat/bam
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 left-field ‘mestissa’ (vaguely, ‘ethnic fusion’) in its mission to provide ‘music without borders’.

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Festes de la Mercè

Where: all over Barcelona
When: Sep 20-24, 2019 (2020 dates TBA)
Website:
www.bcn.cat/merce
This five-day event in honour of the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of Mercy (La Mercè), opens with giants, dragons and ‘capgrosses’ in 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: Ronda de Sant Antoni, Sant Antoni
When: during Festes de la Mercè, Sep 20-24, 2019 (see above; 2020 dates TBA)
Website: www.barcelona.cat/lamerce/
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) as well as food tastings.

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Festa Major de la Barceloneta

Where: all over Barceloneta
When: late Sep, early Oct
Website: www.barcelona.cat/culturapopular/
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.

Feria BioCultura

Where: Palau Sant Jordi
When: Sep 24-27, 2020 [POSTPONED FROM May 7-10, 2020]
Website: biocultura.org
The International Fair of Organic Products and Responsible Consumption is the most important of its kind in Spain. With hundreds of exhibitors, tens of thousands of attendees, and thousands of organic products, the fair includes products ranging from cosmetics and hygiene with certified ingredients; organic materials; eco-materials, furniture and home decor; renewable energies; therapies and medicines; recycling; environment and ecology; rural tourism; toys; arts; music; books and magazines.

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LEM Festival

Where: various venues, Gràcia
When: Sep 26 - Oct 26, 2019 (2020 dates TBA)
Tel & website: 93 237 37 37/https://lemfestival.wordpress.com/

A month-long, well-organised festival of multimedia art and experimental music. It mostly covers electronica, but also includes jazz and rock. Concerts are generally free.

Swab Barcelona International Contemporary Art Fair

Where: Fira de Barcelona
When: Oct 1-4, 2020
Website: http://swab.es/
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.

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Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya

Where: Auditori Melia Sitges, C/Joan Salvat Papasseit 38
When: Oct 8-18, 2020
Tel & website: 93 894 99 90/www.cinemasitges.com
The nearby beach town of Sitges hosts this annual film festival that is widely recognised as the leading European festival for gore, horror, sci-fi and fantasy, with screenings (including premieres), 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.

48h Open House BCN

Where: all over Barcelona
When: Oct 25 & 26, 2020
Website: www.openhouseworldwide.org
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.

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Mercat de Mercats

Where: Av. de la Catedral
When: Oct 18-20, 2019 (2020 dates TBA)
Website: www.mercatsbcn.cat
The annual Market of the Markets is the perfect place to see everything that 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.

Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona

Where: various venues
When: late Oct – early Dec
Tel & website: 93 481 70 40/www.jazz.barcelona
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, The Bad Plus, 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.

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In-Edit Beefeater Festival

Where: Aribau Club (Gran Via, 565-567), Aribau Multisales (C/ Aribau, 8)
When: Oct 29 – Nov 8, 2020
Website: http://es.in-edit.org
A well-regarded cinema festival of music documentaries, featuring practically every genre and type of music act you can imagine.

La Castanyada

Where: all over Barcelona
When: Oct 31 – Nov 1, 2020
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.

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More festivals and events in Barcelona

Summer

Things to do Festivals

Sónar and Cruïlla, outdoor film fests, Sant Joan and the Gràcia fest, Gay Pride, the Grec

Piromusical de la Mercè
© Boule

Autumn

Things to do Festivals

Jazz and hip-hop music festivals, the massive La Mercè celebration, Sitges & In-Edit film fests

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Winter

Things to do Festivals

Christmas markets, New Year parties, Kings' Day, the Mobile World Congress, Carnival

Primavera Sound 2015
© Maria Dias

Spring

Things to do Festivals

Primavera Sound, the big marathon, Guitar BCN festival, Sant Jordi's books and roses

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