Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, in Spain’s North East. While most Spaniards are fond of a fiesta, Barcelona especially loves to party and is home to some of the coolest street festivals in the world. Luckily, Barcelona will take any excuse to throw a celebration, so there are plenty of street festivals year round. Here are my 11 favorites, although there are even more!
1. Ephipany (early January)
Barcelona only waits for a few days into the year for their first festival! This street festival celebrates the arrival of the three kings to baby Jesus’ manger. This day is celebrated with Christmas-like gift giving, and then the three wise men join the ‘Calvacada del Reis’ – an exuberant parade with clowns, acrobats, and elves, starting at the Parc de la Ciutadella. The three kings also throw sweets to children – but the party continues after for adults.
2. Festa Major de Sant Antoni (mid-January)
The first of the Festa Majors, this is a quirky one for the animal lovers! Taking place in Sant Antoni, the festival is a time of dancing, eating and, most uniquely, taking your pet to be blessed by a priest! This festival continues for a week and a half and is a great chance to see Catalonian traditions in action.
3. Festa Major del Raval (mid-late July)
Raval’s Festa Major may not be the largest of the street festivals in Barcelona, but it is bound to delight travelers. Raval is a multicultural, diverse area and this is reflected in its street party. Alongside Catalan traditions, you will find world music and food, with a heavy dose of reggae in particular.
4. Carnival (February/March)
Carnival is, of course, most heavily associated with Rio de Janeiro, but Barcelona never wants to miss out on a party! Putting its spin on this festival which is a ‘last hurrah’ before 40 days of Lent, there is a parade called La Gran Rua de Carnaval. However, most of Barcelona’s student population can be found heading for Sitges, a coastal town famous for its gay nightlife. Dress up, join in, and prepare to be shocked!
5. Festa Major de Poble Sec (mid-July)
This festival is a bit on the smaller side and is popular with the young and trendy – especially since they started running a consecutive craft beer festival with it. Nonetheless, there are the regular Catalonian traditions with its twist, with many local musicians and artists getting involved in the festival.
6. Festa Major del Poblenou (September)
While many of Barcelona’s celebrations are aimed squarely at the young and party happy, Festa Major del Poblenou has many lovely activities for the whole family. Featuring art, music, and dancing, they put on some activities, especially for children. Of course, these are all in Spanish – but hey, what a good way for a child to get started on a new language!
7. Festa de Sant Roc
The Gothic Quarter delivers when it comes to their festival, which is held around Placa Nova. The festival dates back to 1589 and is therefore the oldest in all of Barcelona. It has managed to retain much of its ancient charm, with traditional activities such as correfoc fire runs (probably not covered by your travel insurance) and Sardana dancing. Perhaps the most entertaining activities of all are the whacky la cucanya contest, which sees contestants attempt to walk over a greasy pole, and glops amb el porro llarg, a somewhat terrifying drinking game.
8. Festa Major de Sants (late August)
The second largest Festa Major is in de Sants. Sixteen streets get involved in this party, which has the usual dancing, eating and drinking. However, this festival adds in something a bit different, with a bike ride and 2km run! That’s one way to work off some of that food and drinking following this week-long festival!
9. Sant Joan (late June)
The festival of Sant Joan/Sant Juan/Saint John is a spectacular night showcasing what makes Barcelona so amazing: a serious love of fiesta paired with a total and utter disregard for health and safety. Fireworks go off all night, and so does the beer. The day after is a public holiday, so there is no excuse not to join everyone else in Barcelona and party until the sun goes down!
10. La Merce (late September)
La Merce is not only large by Spanish standards, but is the biggest street festival in all of Europe, attracting over 2 million visitors. The entire city comes out to celebrate, and the activities are too many to name. You can find fantastic theatre, wine tasting, brilliant world music, parades and more. You can even get involved in music workshops so you can bring a bit of La Merce home with you!
11. La Fiesta de Gràcia (mid-August)
By far the most famous fiesta is the fabulous La Fiesta de Gracia. This festival sees each street in Barcelona compete to put on the best street party. Each street starts to plan and construct their decorations many months in advance, with everyone adhering to a different theme. The result is an amazing, bright array of decorations and ideas. Being Barcelona, the festival is an abundance of joyous, over the top reveling complete with music, food, sangria and cerveza! Also, keep your eyes out for the human pyramids! It is truly an epic party for locals and visitors.