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La Mercè 2013

We unveil the essentials of Barcelona's biggest festival, celebrated to honour the city's patron saint: concerts, traditions and family activities that you won't want to miss


The best of and around the festival

Mercè 2013: The top 10
  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Ten of the most important, fun, and exciting events of the city's big celebration Pregó de Festa Major Dalí, Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Pau Casals ... Make a list of well-known Catalans among them will be the man delivering this year's opening speech (called the prego) – someone who has helped half of humankind realise that the world of gastronomy is still a territory to explore and something still capable of surprising us in so many ways. Ferran Adrià steps out of the kitchen to spend some time with the people of Barcelona from the Saló de Cent. There will be a giant screen installed in Plaça Sant Jaume so everyone can see the famous chef deliver the important festival-starting words. Vienna, special guest This year's guest city during the Mercè will fill Barcelona's streets with a touch of Austria via a variety of events. One of the highlights is the electronica opera, which you can see in the Parc de la Ciutadella Til·lers (2014 stage) on Friday the 20th (at 9.30pm); on the 21st, 22nd and 24th at 4pm; and on the 23rd from 7.15pm. Wolfgang Mitterer, Erdem Tunakan, Lucas Baio and Dominik Grünbühe will be reinterpreting classics in one of the most contemporary styles. La ciutat de la bullícia (The bustling city) Go back in time to 1708 Barcelona, a lively city that was busy celebrating the wedding of Archduke Charles VI and Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfensbüttel. Strolling through the Parc de la Ciutadella you'll come across festive processions, decorated gardens, miquelet

The beauty of the Barri Gòtic
  • Things to do

Combined with a wander down frenetic, commercial La Rambla, 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. For a taste of the town's more grandiose architecture, Plaça Sant Jaume is flanked by two government buildings, the Renaissance palace of the Generalitat and neo-classical façade of the Ajuntament. Restaurants in the Barri Gòtic Ohla Gastrobar The Ohla Gastrobar, at the top of the Ohla Hotel, is an exclusive but relaxed spot that serves small haute cuisine, courtesy of chef Richard Frank, who also runs the modern classic Saüc. La Cuina del DO Such is the quality of this hotel restaurant, located in a basement area in Plaça Real, that the hotel seems to have been built around the restaurant. They offer inspired auteur cuisine, where the produce wins out over technique, with unusual combinations such as crab cannelloni or sole with Swiss chard. Bosco A cosy restaurant with spectacular décor, and which aspires to stake a claim in the barrio through its highly effective cuisine. There’s no pretensions here, just dishes such as cannelloni stuffed with roast chicken, mushrooms and foie gras. Good for sharing. Can Culleretes Barcelona’s oldest restaurant, ​​and one of the oldest in Spain, is still going strong. The Agut-Manubens family, with mother and daughter to the fore, serve good Catalan cooking at very reasonable prices, notably t



Outdoor fun

Families al fresco
  • Things to do

If you're looking for something to do as a family other than sit in a dark cinema, eat at another crowded restaurant or try to get the little ones away from that electronic game, you've come to the right place. Barcelona may not have as many parks as London or New York, but it's got its share of lovely open spaces to spend some quality time in a mysterious place known as the outdoors. Torre de les Aigües In 1870, the Torre de les Aigües provided water to some of the first houses to be built in the Eixample district. Now, more than a century later, converted into a swimming pool and a small park, it provides fun for young and old alike. As temperatures soar in August, the Torre de les Aigües is a welcoming oasis: relief from the heat and unlimited opportunities for splashing, paddling and generally getting wet. Parc d'Atraccions Tibidabo If there’s one thing kids love it’s a funfair – and the same usually goes for their parents. The amusement park perched at the top of Tibidabo has an otherworldly charm, a hundred years of history and the added attraction of being perched high above Barcelona. With rides for all ages, it’s a day out to remember. Barcelona Bosc Urbà (Urban Jungle) This urban adventure park – the first of its kind in Barcelona – is designed to deliver a monster dose of adrenalin. There are zip lines, nets, rope swings, bungee jumps, bridges and walkways rigged on platforms up to six metres above the ground – altogether more than 50 attractions on the park's var

The Barcelona beach guide
  • Things to do

Time to hit the beach! Lounge in the sun, take a dip in the sea, even sip a cocktail in the moonlight More summer fun Top 20 terraces Find the spots where you can relax, eat and drink on the coveted sunny terraces of Barcelona. The spritz crawl This Venetian concoction is back in style. We show you five spots where you can sip to your heart's content. Best ice cream shops Ice cream in all flavours and colours to help you beat the heat. The best chiringuitos Great dining on the sand: eating well at the city's beach bars The best clubs Where do the cool kids go clubbing? We take a look at the 10 best nightspots and their wildlife Top features 20 great things to do 1. Ramble down colourful La Rambla One of the most famous boulevards in the world, La Rambla is worth a stroll down even if you only have one day in Barcelona. A gateway to rural Catalonia, the mile-long road bustles with tourists, artists, human statues, fortune-tellers, dancers and musicians. Vibrant flower stalls, a cultural and exhibition centre, the superb La Boqueria market, a Joan Miró mosaic, newspaper kiosks and cafés line the street. You may pay a fortune to sip a cola at a roadside café but the people-watching opportunities will be worth the price. 2. Get up close to Gaudí's grand designs In Barcelona, you can gaze in wonder at Gaudí's fairytale architecture. The Sagrada Familia is breathtaking and grotesque by turns. At first glance, it seems as though a careless giant has dripped melting wax over a Got

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