Every 17 March it seems like the whole world's Irish just in time to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Maybe not the whole world, but at least 60 million claim to be Irish or to have Irish blood running through their veins. So here we go again, as Barcelona does jigs and reels in silly hats and drinks as much Guinness and whiskey as possible.
Of course you can nip in to any of the Irish pubs in town (see below), where there's sure to be a party complete with tricolour decorations, and a distinct lack of snakes. Also getting in on the fun are Hard Rock Café, with Irish dancing and DJ sets, as well as a special menu available all week; That Comedy Show Barcelona hosts a stand-up show on Friday night featuring Irish comedian Donnchadht Tiernan and live music from The Stereotypes; and at the Espai Jove La Fontana in Gràcia they're treating you to a Saint Patrick's Day Festival with the Orquestra Celta de Barcelona, Trobar de Morte pagan folk, Fletcher Anderson's Irish dancing, and harpist Josep Maria Ribelles (Fri 17, 8pm; donations accepted).
The big outdoor party will be on Saturday 18 in the pedestrian street of C/ Numància, above Diagonal, where you'll find all kinds of activities, from a pure Irish style pub quiz to prize draws for English courses in Dublin or trips to Ireland and the Costa Brava.
The line-up for the party on Saturday, March 18:
11am-11.30am: Welcome and fun with Elfa Failynn, storytelling and Celtic cakes, and face painting inspired by Celtic mythology.
11.30am-12.25pm: Celtic bagpipes with 'tabalers' drummers from Les Corts and the City of Barcelona Pipe Band.
12.20pm- 2.30pm: Interactive show 'It's Saint Patrick's Day!' with live Irish music and dancing from Delorgan and Nancy Whiskey.
2pm-2.30pm: Everyone's welcome to join in on the ceilidh dance with the Dance Master calling out the steps.
3.30pm-4.30pm: Stories with Elfa Failynn.
4.30pm: Celtic chocolate feast.
4.30pm-5.30pm: Concert and Irish dancing. Later the party carries on in Kitty O'Shea's, with top rugby.
1am: Rugby: France vs England.
Irish pubs, Barcelona style
The Irish pub par excellence in Barcelona: huge, warm, cosy and full of friendly Irish people as well as some lively locals. Stop in for the occasional live music show, to support your favourite team on the big-screen or to enjoy a roast dinner on Sundays. And of course, they pull a fabulous dark beer.
Of all the pubs that look like museums, safe houses for tourists who need their fix of giant drinking parties and leprechaun decorations, this is a step above the rest. The pub grub is surprisingly good (try the meatloaf!), they have Grolsch on tap, and a layout that takes advantage of the fantastic large windows and the open space outside. The small terrace is only recommended for those who like to be kept on their toes by their surroundings, and there's also a pool table.
There's probably a Kitty O'Shea's in your hometown, so if you venture out of the centre of Barcelona, you'll feel at home here. They do food, both traditional Irish and international, and of course they do drink, including top-shelf Irish whiskeys, beers and coffee. The pub is near Camp Nou, making it a popular place to meet before or after a match, and if you can't make it to see a match live, you can watch via their satellite coverage.
It started as a small, friendly pub on C/Ample – perfect for taking in a football match, knocking back a pint or two, and chatting as if you didn't have to eventually go to work. All this without a single Celtic prop dangling in your beer. Success saw them expand the business and they opened their doors on C/Paradís, with a focus on macro brews, if you can take your eyes off the hypnotic TV screens over the three floors of space.
Although it's right in the epicentre of the tourist crush, this Irish pub also draws in the locals. It's lovely to a fault – just let yourself be seduced by its wood decor and well-poured beers. The food isn't bad either: they do a worthy set lunchtime menu at a fair price, and offer up some of that succulent though somewhat limited Irish cuisine: beef stew with stout, or sausages on a bed of mashed potato with sweet onion sauce. The good news is the make a nice breakfast fry-up as well, complete with beans, bacon and sausage.
Among the sunburns on Passeig de Joan Borbon you'll find this pub with maritime motifs. During the winter you can duck in and warm your hands on a filling pint. During the summer it's virtually the only spot on the promenade where you can settle in for a drink without someone forcing seafood down your gullet. It can get quite hot on the terrace, but the interior is nice. Some of the servers have serious problems with the local language, but their English is fantastic, so order away.
At first glance you see a pub that's a bit pricey and nothing in particular stands out about it. The menu is basically pizzas. What does make it interesting are the many green sofas at the back. During the day, the place is deserted: grab a cold pint and relax on leather cushions while you read the paper or a book by Evelyn Waugh or Kingsley Amis, while your there, for a near-mystical experience.