Culture and Music – The Perfect Way to Party!
If you are visiting Barcelona at any time throughout the months of May to September, there are so many different Barcelona Summer Festivals that you are bound to have a brilliant time.
In fact many visitors choose to come to Barcelona precisely to go to one of the great street festivals, such as La Festa Major de Gràcia or Les Festes de la Mercè.
Music fans come to go to Primavera Sound or Sónar, LGBT tourists visit for Pride Week whilst bikers rev their engines during the Harley Days Festival.
However, there are many more fantastic Barcelona Summer Festivals so although it’s not possible to list them all, here’s an overview of some of the main events that take place in Catalan capital throughout the months of May to September.
Main Barcelona Summer Festivals – May to September
Primavera Sound Festival (May/June)
The summer calendar of music festivals kicks off with the enormously popular Primavera Sound normally at the end of May or sometimes over the first weekend in June.
The main festival is now held at the Parc del Fòrum but there are other events in clubs around town, most notably Barts and Sala Apolo, and free lunchtime concerts in Parc de la Ciutadella.
Primavera Sound kicks of the summer season of major music festivals in Barcelona and the club events normally begin in early May while the main events take place at the Parc del Fòrum from Thursday to Saturday on the last weekend in May or first weekend in June.
- Read More About and Book Tickets for This Year’s Primavera Sound
Fira Modernista de Barcelona (First Weekend in June)
The Fira Modernista is actually the Festa Major de la Dreta de l’Eixample and takes place between mainly on the section of Carrer Girona that starts on Carrer Aragó and goes up to Avinguda Diagonal.
It’s a really fantastic little family-oriented festival with people dressing up in turn of the 19th and 20th century costume in honour of the Dreta de l’Eixample’s status as the heat of the Quadrat d’Or or Golden Square, where you find the highest concentration of Modernista buildings in the world.
The main exhibits include Vintage Cars and Fairground Rides and a Miniature Train Circuit as well as stalls selling traditional foods.
- Read More About the Fira Modernista de Barcelona
Festival Jardins de Pedralbes (Early June to Early July)
The Festival de Jardins de Pedralbes is a fairly mainstream music festival featuring well-known international and Spanish pop and rock stars.
It takes place over a period of about a month and a half on an outdoor stage in the lovely gardens of the former royal palace in Pedralbes.
Given the stature of of some of the artists, prices tend to be quite high but even so tickets tend to get snapped up so it’s well-worth booking well in advance.
- Read More About and Book Tickets for This Year’s Jardins de Pedralbes
Sónar Festival (June)
With its reputation as one of Europe’s most important electronic and dance music festivals, Sónar draws over 80,000 people and is now held at the two Fira de Barcelona sites at Montjuïc and Gran Via.
Every year the festival boasts an impressive line-up of mainstream acts as well as more underground artists and DJs, who are really only known to the most committed clubbers.
The festival is divided into Sónar by Day at Montjuïc and Sónar by Night at Gran Via so if you have enough energy, synthetic or otherwise, you can party continuously for three days.
- Read More About and Book Tickets for This Year’s Sónar
Pride Barcelona (Late June)Pride Barcelona
Pride Barcelona is the city’s Gay Pride Festival and is not only a lot of fun for everyone but is also a reflection of the Catalan capital’s long-standing attitudes towards sexual freedom.
The whole programme lasts over a week and many of the first weekend events take place in the part of the Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample known as the Gaixample.
The Main Pride Barcelona festival, events include the Miss Drag Pride and the Foam Party at The Village on Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina on Montjuïc and the Pride Parade Barcelona, which starts near the port on Avinguda Paral.lel and finishes at the Magic Fountains on Montjuïc.
Barcelona goes rainbow-coloured again in early July with the two-week-long Circuit Festival Barcelona, which is more oriented towards the LGBT tourist.
- Read More About This Year’s Pride Barcelona
Sant Joan (June 23rd-24th)
The eve or Revetlla de Sant Joan in Catalan is definitely the biggest and maddest party of the year and in fact, the night is celebrated all over Catalonia and Spain, where it is called La Verbena de San Juan.
Sant Joan is the midsummer festival of fire and sparks fly when devils and dragons take to the streets of the city centre in the evening.
All this is accompanied by piles of food, copious amounts of alcohol and lashings of Mediterranean abandon so it’s a good job the next day is a public holiday and everyone can stay in bed until late.
- Read More About This Year’s Sant Joan in Barcelona
Grec Festival de Barcelona (All Through July)
The central events of El Grec feature mainly highbow music,dance and theatre performances at the eponymously named Teatre Grec, which is a lovely outdoor Greek amphitheatre in the Parc de Montjuïc.
However, the truth is that the festival, being at the height of summer ends up taking over the whole city of Barcelona and there are many other events for all kinds of public.
Jazz, Circus, Children’s Theatre are now all part of the programme as well as some very interesting talks so these days El Grec increasingly has something for everyone.
- Read More About and Buy Tickets For This Year’s Grec Festival
Barcelona Harley Days (First Weekend in July)
Every July, Barcelona plays host to the biggest urban celebration of Harley Davidson motorbikes when bikers, entusiasts and tourists don their leathers and rev their engines on Montjuïc.
Harley Days really is something to behold as gangs of bikers on these low-slung bikes motor around the hill and nearby streets.
The whole event is a lot of fun and actually I’m always surprised how well-behaved everybody always is.
Festa Major de Gràcia (Mid-August)
The Festa Major de Gràcia is by far the best-known of Barcelona’s neighbourhood festivals partly because it takes place at the height of the tourist season in the relatively central neighbourhood of Vila de Gràcia but mainly because it has a very special atmosphere.
This is because, as far as the local residents are concerned, the main event is the street decoration competition, which means all the streets are lavishly adorned with everything from papier maché statues to chinese lanterns and streamers in order to win the much-coveted best decorated street award.
After that, stages are set up in the many squares of Gràcia and the neighbourhood becomes a week-long urban music festival, which runs late into the night.
Festa Major de Sants (Late August)
As soon as the Festa Major de Gràcia ends the Festa Major de Sants begins and although not as well-known to toursts and foreigners, it is just as popular with local Barcelonins who are stuck in the capital in August.
There’s also a best decorated street competition but as Sants is a more rough and ready working-class neighbourhood, it’s much more about music and straightforward partying.
If that’s what you want, I strongly recommend any of the Festa Alternativa events, and just to keep us in the party spirit when Sants finishes, the neighbouring Festa de La Bordeta begins.
Festes de la Mercè (Late September)
Les Festes de la Mercè are Barcelona’s main city festival and take place over a week around the the day of Barcelona’s patron saint, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè, on September 24th.
La Mercè really marks the end of the Barcelona summer and in typical Catalan style, the festival really is something special.
Fireworks, processions and folk dances make up the cultural programme and there’s also a healthy programme of concerts and performances to suit everyone’s taste.
Events take place all over the city with Plaça de Sant Jaume, Plaça del Rei and Avinguda del Catedral in El Barri Gòtic, El Parc de la Ciutadella in La Ribera and Avinguda Maria Cristina on Montjuïc being the main locations.
- Read More About This Year’s Festes de la Mercè