Halloween in Barcelona

Even though it’s a borrowed tradition from overseas, Halloween in Barcelona keeps growing in popularity every year. This is how Barcelona celebrates Halloween.

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Halloween’s celebrations in Barcelona are blended with the original catalan holiday of Tot Sants (All Saints), which takes place on November 1st, and given that Halloween is not as hyped as in the US, this holiday has different shades and a flavor of its own, compared to the Halloween celebrations in other countries.

Despite being associated with a children’s holiday, Halloween in Barcelona is very popular among adults too, but either way, trick or treating is not a usual habit. Instead, lavish costume parties for grown ups take the town by storm throughout the city’s bars and clubs.

One thing you can’t miss about the Halloween/All Saints in Barcelona is “La Castanyada”, a popular tradition from Catalonia that commemorates the dead each November 1st, by having a meal including chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets (small cakes made of marzipan and covered with nuts).

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Since late october, the presence of street vendors selling roasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper is common in Barcelona. Along with these delicacies, several events like music concerts and choral ensembles.

One popular way of celebrating Halloween in Barcelona is heading to Port Aventura, a large amusement park located 110 Km (68 miles) away from Barcelona. It offers a special horror weekend and shows with ghosts, zombies, monsters and pumpkins of course.

Other big parties in Barcelona for Halloween are those in Razzmatazz with the Razzlloween Night on october 31st. CDLC Club will host the “Fear of the Night” Halloween party, as well as Sutton Club, that will held the #WILD Halloween Costume Ball on wednesday Oct. 29th. Opium Mar, Shoko Club, Sala Apolo and Monasterio will also host Halloween themed parties.

For a different Halloween celebration, head to the Moll de les Drassanes on the night of the 31st (right next to Las Golondrinas dock) and go on board a catamaran with your costume on, for a three hour Halloween Boat Party with music and drinks.

Photo Credits: Hanna Horwarth and Manel Zaera in Flickr

New Year’s Eve in Barcelona

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When you think about New Year’s Eve celebrations, most likely cities like New York, London, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney or Paris come to mind. No wonder, those cities hold the best reputation for staging the most amazing New Year’s Eve shows in the world. But should we expect a new city joining this select group? You bet, as Barcelona is heading to grab headlines this next December 31st.

Barcelona hasn’t yet succeeded in staging a memorable New Year’s Eve spectacle, with the exception of the one that took place in 1999 to celebrate the Millennium. But this is all about to change, as this year Barcelona wants to top that night with an ambitious performance, in order to set new grounds for an annual event that hopefully will shake things up and become one of the most awaited shows in the world. A steppingstone in the city’s successful reinvention as top touristic destination.

The show has already been planned to the last detail, and the key to stand out from the crowd is showing the world a different and unique aesthetics in the ceremony, completely inspired in the local culture and traditions. To meet such standards, they resorted to famed theatrical group “La Fura dels Baus”, who were the centerpiece for the 1999’s show that attracted 20.000 people in Plaza Cataluña.

Hopefully, the attendance this year will be much larger, as the usual scenery for la Mercé pyrotechnics show, the Maria Cristina Avenue at Plaza España, will host the show and it has already proved to host big crowds. Hold your breath, because the pyrotechnics display will run for about 45 minutes into the new year, and don’t expect the regular clock: the twelve strokes at midnight will be created through fireworks effects. With more surprises to come, we can’t wait for New Year’s Eve to witness this magical show with Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain in the background.

If you want to be a part of this exceptional performance, don’t forget to show up at Plaza España no later than 21.00h, as the access to the premises will open at that time, and above all, bring all your excitement and get ready for the biggest party of the year in Barcelona!

Photo credit: Xavi on Flickr

Saint George’s Day in Barcelona

Legend says that once there was a kingdom besieged by a dragon. To keep the dragon from attacking the reign’s domains, the people decided to give him two lambs everyday, to satisfy the dragon’s hunger. When the town was left without animals, the dragon then demanded to be fed with maidens, and left with no other choice they relinquished. Until the day the turn of the princess came, and upon entering the dragon’s cave, out of the blue, a knight appeared and fought the dragon to death.

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The dragon’s dead body was down on the ground and out of the blood that started to emerge, red roses were born. Saint George, the knight’s name, gave a rose to the princess as a symbol of his love. That’s why on April 23rd, on Saint George’s day, there’s the tradition of every man giving a rose to a woman and in return, every woman gives a book to a man, in remembrance of the passing of two of the greatest writers in literature, Cervantes and Shakespeare.

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Sant George or Sant Jordi, along with La Mercé and Sant Joan, is the biggest holiday in Barcelona, and oddly enough, it’s a working day. It could also be viewed as the alternative to Barcelona’s own Valentine’s Day, as traditionally February 14th is celebrated more among foreigners living in Barcelona. Lately the book and the rose are being exchanged between friends and it doesn’t have any romantic implication.

If you happen to be in Barcelona for Sant Jordi, consider yourself lucky, this is truly a spectacular day to witness. These are some things that you shouldn’t miss on Sant Jordi:

  • Buying books. Plenty of them. Sant Jordi is one of the biggest days for literature year round, lots of stores have special discounts and there are plenty of book releases (as well as their authours in person signing them). 
  • Buying roses, or better yet, getting roses if you’re a girl! The city will be filled with street stands selling red roses, although you’ll also notice some more outrageous designs striving for the most original multicolored rose. As the day passes by, you’ll see how the roses start to cost each time less and less.

Sant-Jordi-Roses-2013

  • Walk down La Rambla and Passeig de Gràcia. If you don’t mind the hassle of big crowds, you’ll have a great time browsing through the hundreds of book stands, the relaxed atmosphere is contagious.
  • Taste a “Coca de Sant Joan“. A traditional bread prepared for Sant Jordi’s Day, made with Majorcan sausage and cheese and it’s decorated resembling the Catalan flag. You’ll find it in most bakeries.
  • Visit Barcelona’s City Hall. They will have an open day on April 23rd, a perfect opportunity to discover the City Hall from the inside. There will be plenty of other activities for Sant Jordi, you can check them out here.