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Big festivals and major events in Barcelona: Autumn

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

© Boule
Piromusical de la Mercè

There's plenty to do to during autumn in Barcelona, 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.

Festival L’Hora del Jazz

Where: various venues
When: Sundays in Sep
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).

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.

Hipnotik Festival

Where: CCCB
When: mid-Sep
Website: hipnotikfestival.com
Spain'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.

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Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM)

Where: various venues
When: during the Festes de la Mercè, Sep 22-25 2016 (2017 dates TBA)
Tel: 93 427 42 49
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 leftfield 'mestissa' (vaguely, 'ethnic fusion') in its mission to provide ‘music without borders’.

Festival Asia

Where: various venues
When: late Sep
Website: www.casaasia.eu
This week of twirling saris, Chinese acrobats, music, workshops and stalls from some 20 Asian countries, has expanded from its former base at the Mercat de les Flors to take in a number of venues, some in open-air settings. The festival now coincides with the Festes de la Mercè (see below).

Festes de la Mercè

Where: all over Barcelona
When: Sep 22-25 2016 (2017 dates TBA)
Website:
www.bcn.cat/merce
This week-long event in honour of the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of Mercy, opens with giants, dragons and 'capgrosses' in the 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.

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Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya

Where: Passeig de Lluís Companys, Ciutat Vella
When: during Festes de la Mercè, Sep 24 2017 (see above)
Tel & website: 93 552 48 00/www20.gencat.cat
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.

Festa Major de la Barceloneta

Where: all over Barceloneta
When: late Sep, early Oct
Tel & website: 93 221 72 44
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.

Swab Barcelona International Contemporary Art Fair

Where: Fira de Barcelona
When: Sep 28 – Oct 1 2017
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 7-16, 2016 (2017 dates TBA)
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.

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