With an events calendar packed with everything from traditional Catalan religious festivals to cutting-edge technological events and large-scale music concerts, there is always something on in Barcelona. 

Whether a visitor to the city or a new arrival who plans to stay for a few years, it is worth knowing about some of the most prominent celebrations among the city’s many festivals.

Expats can do everything from celebrating the city’s patron saint amid dragons, devils and showers of sparks, to enjoying the sound of roaring engines at the Spanish Grand Prix. 

Some of the most popular annual events in Barcelona are listed below.

Carnival (February)

In a lead-up to the fasting and denial practised during Lent, Carnival is a festival of indulgence held in February each year, featuring plenty of feasting and dancing. An over-the-top carnival parade to bring the period of plenty to a close is the highlight of the festival.

Barcelona Marathon (March)

An annual marathon that has been running since 1978, participants pass by some of the city’s most popular sights, including Sagrada Familia, the Camp Nou soccer stadium and the beach. 

Palm Sunday (April)

An important holy day for the Catholic Church, Palm Sunday is celebrated in Barcelona with a procession involving many beautiful sculptures and artworks.

Spanish F1 Grand Prix (May)

The Spanish Formula One Grand Prix is always a crowd puller, with thousands of spectators and all the international racing teams converging in Barcelona to watch the world’s best drivers compete.

European Balloon Festival (June)

The sky fills with colourful hot-air balloons in an event which draws thousands of tourists and participants from all over the world each year.

Sonar Festival (June)

A contemporary arts and music festival centred around the Centre for Contemporary Culture and the Museum of Contemporary Art by day and the Fira Gran Via conference centre by night. 

Barcelona Summer Festival (June to August)

The Barcelona Summer Festival, commonly referred to as the Grec Festival, is an international cultural event that features theatre, dance and music, which is held between June and August each year. 

Festes de la Mercè (September)

A week-long festival towards the end of September, the city gathers to celebrate its patron saint, Our Lady of Mercy. The event starts with a bang, as parades of dwarfs, dragons and giants open the festivities. Residents enjoy fireworks, music and sporting events, until the final parade when around 100,000 people gather at the Barri Gòtic to watch. 

Fira de Santa Llúcia (December)

A traditional Christmas fair with a history that goes back to the 18th century, expats can explore stalls that sell all kinds of handcrafted Christmas gifts and decorations. Expats are likely to be at least slightly taken aback by the caganer, a famous Catalan figure that features in many of the city’s nativity scenes.

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