There so much to do in Barcelona during the summer. Sure you've always got fun in the sun along Barcelona's coastline, but you can also revel in huge music festivals such as Sónar and Cruïlla, outdoor film festivals, big local festivals including St John's feast day and the Gràcia neighbourhood's big party. There's also Gay Pride, the CaixaForum Summer Nights series of concerts, the city's huge performance arts Grec festival, and more.
Where: Fira de Barcelona, Montjuïc & Gran Via
When: Jun 14-16, 2018
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, which celebrates its 25th edition in 2018, 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 L'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. Big names who performed in 2017 included Björk (DJ set) Nicolas Jaar, De La Soul, Seth Troxler & Tiga, Little Dragon, Nina Kraviz, DJ Shadow, Nosaj Thing and Andersson .Paak, among oh so many others.
Where: all over Barcelona
When: night of Jun 23
In the weeks leading up to the feast of St John, the streets become a terrifying war zone of firecrackers and cowering dogs. This is mere limbering up for the main event – on the night of June 23 there are bonfires and firework displays all over the city, but especially the beach, running until dawn. Cava is the traditional tipple, and piles of coca – flat, crispy bread topped with candied fruit – are consumed. Special metro and FGC trains run all night, and the 24th is a much-needed holiday.
Where: various venues
When: Jun 28 – Jul 9, 2017 (2018 dates TBA)
Barcelona shows its gay pride over the course of ten days in venues all over the city, including talks, demonstrations, parties, concerts, activities for kids and families, and the big parade.
Gran Trobada d’Havaneres
Where: Passeig Joan de Borbó, Barceloneta
When: last Sat in June
Tel: 93 316 10 00
The barnacled legacy of Catalonia’s old trade links with Cuba, 'havaneres' are melancholy 19th-century shanties accompanied by accordion and guitar. The main event is at the port town of Calella de Palafrugells, but the Barcelona satellite is no less fun. Performances by groups dressed in stripy shirts, with salty sea-dog names such as Peix Fregit (fried fish) and Xarxa (fishing net), are followed by 'cremat' (flaming spiced rum) and fireworks.
Música als Parcs
Where: various venues
Tel & website: 93 413 24 00/www.bcn.cat/parcsijardins
This series of free, al fresco concerts runs throughout the summer months in some of Barcelona’s loveliest parks. It comprises two cycles; there’s jazz from June to August on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10pm in Ciutadella park in front of the fountain and, in July, young musicians perform a varied classical concert programme from Thursday to Saturday in various parks. There are also performances by the municipal band, who boost the programme on occasional Thursdays with crowd-pleasers from Gershwin, 'West Side Story' and the like.
Festival del Grec
Where: various venues
When: all of July
Tel & website: 93 316 10 00/http://grec.bcn.cat/en/
Named after the Greek amphitheatre (Teatre Grec) that forms such an integral part of its programming, this is the major cultural festival of the year. It brings together dozens of shows from around the world, encompassing dance, music, theatre and circus. Increasingly there are performances in English, with Catalan surtitles.
Sala Montjuïc outdoor film festival
Where: Castell de Montjuïc
A blend of classics and recent independent cinema shown three times a week throughout July and into August, transforms the grassy moat of the castle into an outdoor cinema. Bring a picnic and and turn up early for the jazz band. A free bus service runs from Espanya metro from 8.30pm to 9.30pm and after the film.
Festival Cruïlla Barcelona
Where: Parc del Fòrum
When: Jul 13 & 14, 2018
The Cruïlla music festival got its feet wet in nearby Mataró as a world music festival, but since moving to Barcelona in 2008, it has grown into the blend of styles and cultures that it is today, an eclectic festival that books pop and rock bands alongside electronica acts, along with a broad spectrum of R&B, and Jamaican and African music. Headliners for the 2017 edition included Jamiroquai, Pet Shop Boys, Two Door Cinema Club, Ani DiFranco, Ryan Adams, The Prodigy, Little Steven, The Lumineers, and more.
Festa Major del Raval
Where: Rambla del Raval
When: Jul 13-16, 2017 (2018 dates TBA)
Over three days, entertainment includes giants, a flea market, children’s workshops and free concerts on the Rambla del Raval. This particular festa major prides itself on multiculturalism, with music from around the world and ethnic food stalls.
Nits d’Estiu CaixaForum
When: every Wed in July & Aug
Tel & website: 93 476 86 00/obrasocial.lacaixa.es
Many museums hold Nits d'Estiu (Summer Nights) programmes in July and August, but CaixaForum has one of the best. All its exhibitions are open until midnight, and there are concerts of varying stripes (€6; €3 La Caixa clients), films and other activities.