With the good weather and the heat finally coming up, it’s worth it to take the time and take a close look at the many popular festivals Barcelona has to offer. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re looking for some of the most prestigious music festivals in Europe, or if you’re more interested in local festivities. Catalans surely love their local traditions… And, in consequence, there are tons of popular festivals and major celebrations taking place in Barcelona all year round.
For this list we’ve put together two of Barcelona’s most prominent music festivals, along with some charming local festivities that will make you fall in love with the city!
Popular local festivities and festivals in Barcelona
The variety of Primavera Sound
Over the years, the Primavera Sound Festival has become a global benchmark for major music events. Today it is one of the most popular music festivals in Barcelona and the world, attracting more than 200,000 spectators every year, locals and tourists alike.
What makes Primavera Sound such a popular festival is its diversity. Its line-up always hosts a wide array of artists from across a diverse spectrum of genres. Huge names have played on its stages in previous years, including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Belle & Sebastian, The White Stripes, Belle & Sebastian, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Pet Shop Boys, Pavement, PJ Harvey, Fleet Foxes, Yo La Tengo, Björk, Franz Ferdinand… No matter what your musical tastes are, Primavera Sound is bound to have something for you!
Barcelona brings in so many people during the Primavera Sound week in spring that it is especially important to book an apartment in advance. You have been warned!
The cutting edge of Sónar Music Festival
Yet another global reference in the field of music festivals. Sónar Festival is one of the most popular electronic music events in the world, and it was born right here in Barcelona. With editions scattered in different corners in the world, it is an event that has always had an avant-garde spirit. Do not mistake Sónar as just an electronic music party. The festival’s DNA is fixated on unconventional and forward-looking music, always with a focus on new technologies.
On top of its regular music programming, the festival puts special emphasis on multimedia art, record fairs, conferences, exhibitions and sound labs. Sónar receives over 100,000 spectators a year, and, as such, is poised as one of the most popular festivals found in Barcelona.
The romanticism of Sant Jordi Day
Essentially, Sant Jordi is the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day. A yearly celebration, always on April 23rd, during which Barcelona is brimming with roses and books. The tradition consists of exchanging roses and books among your loved ones. It’s a remarkably beautiful day in which you’ll find stalls selling books and roses in almost every single street.
As the legend goes, when Sant Jordi (Saint George) slew the dragon, its dripping blood turned into red flowers… And Catalans have been celebrating this festivity for more than five centuries!
The joy of the Festes Majors
The Festes Majors are annual celebrations held in every municipality throughout Catalonia. Barcelona is no exception, but the Catalan capital takes this tradition to another level. There are no less than 73 neighborhoods in the city, and each of them has its own Festa Major! With each festival lasting a week, more or less, this means that there’s always a celebration going on somewhere in the city.
Especially worth noting are the La Mercè festivities in September, which englobe the whole city with performances from renowned international and national artists… And they are all free!
The magic of Sant Joan night
This is probably one of the most popular local festivals in Barcelona and Catalonia. It takes place every year on the night of June 23rd, so save the date! You’ve probably never seen something like this.
On the days leading to this festivity, Barcelona becomes a noisy hub of firecrackers, but it’s on the 23rd when this tradition literally lights up. The tradition consists of lighting bonfires and firecrackers all night long in order to celebrate the summers solstice – the shortest night of the year, and the official kick-off of the summer season. Head down to the Barcelona beaches on this night and you’ll be swept up by the infective festive atmosphere!