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Running since 2012, Llum BCN is a festival of light that aims to counter the darkness of winter with the splendour of light (llum means 'light' in Catalan) reflected on some of the city's most beautiful buildings and spaces. This year the Llum BCN festival has not only doubled in size, it's also moved to a new home: Poblenou, a district currently immersed in an intense process of transformation.
Over a dozen well-known Spanish and international artists have created installations that bring transformation by using light in six of the most emblematic locations in Poblenou; this year's guest artist is the Canadian Monique Saboya, who brings a selection of immersive art projects. At the same time, to demonstrate the city's emergent creativity and talent, students from 14 Architecture, Art and Design schools have prepared special artworks based on the creative use of illumination. Both series can be seen by following an easy-to-walk itinerary around the district.
Barcelona Design Week (BDW) returns to the city from June 5 to 14. One of the most important Design Weeks on the international calendar, this one is organised by the BCD Barcelona Design Centre. It's both a key meeting point for companies and professionals of the sector and a fascinating event for anyone interested in creativity.
This year, the BDW includes around 100 activities taking place in different parts of the city, although the main focus of activities will once more be Barcelona Disseny Hub's building, where the opening ceremony, the congress and the main exhibition will take place, along with other items on the programme. Parallel activities such as workshops, talks, exhibitions and other initiatives based on creativity are held throughout the city (BDW City). All in all, it's an unmissable week in Barcelona during which which design, creativity and innovation are the star performers.
Only created five years ago, the Festival Jardins de Pedralbes has enjoyed a rapid rise to success thanks to three key features.
The first is the setting. Pedralbes Palace is a splendid 1920s building located in the uptown part of the city, and its landscaped gardens of fountains, statues, lawns and many types of flora play host to the festival's concerts.
The second key is the programme. From esteemed stars such as Tom Jones, Zaz Angus, Julia Stone, Jessie J, to cult figures including Simple Minds and local acts like Miguel Ríos, Sara Baras, Niña Pastori, Ainhoa Arteta & Josep Carreras, Miguel Poveda or Pastora Soler, the bill is always carefully curated; and as well as the main concerts, there's a special day dedicated to families.
Finally, festival organisers Concert Studio have consistently made gastronomy a priority, collaborating with chefs to ensure the whole festival experience is one to remember.
The sights of Barcelona are a pleasure to behold, from the mix of architecture to the seemingly endless lines of trees, the café terraces full of people and the seafront with its bars, bustle and bathers. But there is another side of Barcelona that deserves to be seen, and that's the view across its rooftops. Now in its seventh year, Barcelona's Hotel Terrace Week is the perfect time to head to the top of some of the city's finest hotels and appreciate the expansive panoramas you can enjoy from these privileged terraces.
What's more, it's not just a question of savouring a fine mojito or refreshing G&T accompanied by lip-smackingly good tapas, because all the places taking part lay on special events to make the experience even more appealing. Live music performances, DJ sets, magic shows, wine and other tastings, even synchronised swimming displays – this is no ordinary way to watch the sun set over the city on a balmy summer evening.
The festival of Sant Joan (Saint John in English) is one of the most popular festivals among the residents of Barcelona. It commemorates the arrival of summer, and the occasion is marked with bonfires and fireworks, as has been the traditional way of doing it for generations. Throughout the city people burn piles of wood and old furniture, while fireworks and firecrackers fill the air throughout the night. Music and popular festivities flood the streets, the squares and the beach. The coca de Sant Joan (a sweet flat bread traditionally topped with fruit and pine nuts, although other varieties are also available) is a must-try. It's a delicious dessert that's typical of the night of Saint John and is usually eaten accompanied by a glass or two of cava. And even though this is really the shortest night of the year, for many people it is, without a doubt, the longest one.
Throughout the summer, most evenings see special cultural and gastronomic activities held at venues around the city. Many modernista spaces, such as Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, Palau Güell, Casa Amatller, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, host concerts, suppers, drinks and audiovisual shows. In turn, several cultural venues, including Poble Espanyol, CaixaForum and El Born Centre de Cultura i Memoria, open late at least one night a week, allowing you to enjoy their exhibitions and special activities away from the daytime crowds and heat.
Film fans can head to open-air screenings like Sala Montjuïc, which shows movies at the castle on top of Montjuïc, Gandules, a free event at the CCCB where the audience sits in deckchairs (gandules in Catalan), and Cosmonits, a programme of sci-fi films at CosmoCaixa. Finally, the city's parks host evening concerts and the Liceu goes al fresco with the outdoor screening of one its operas.
Barcelona is home to a thriving fashion industry and twice a year, the community gets to show off its skills at the 080 Barcelona Fashion event. New talent combines with well-known international brands and established Catalan labels to offer audiences the opportunity of seeing a spectrum of styles, trends and concepts.
At the summer 2018 edition, the 22nd, over 30 brands and designers fill the Sant Pau Modernist Site with catwalk shows and glamour that showcase the looks that will be hitting the streets and shops in coming seasons. There are also prizes up for grabs awarded to the best collections, emerging designer and international brand, as well as talks and activities for those looking to break into the fashion industry, and a commercial and business area for buyers interested in the Catalan market.
The 10-year anniversary of Pride Barcelona, the Med's largest gay pride event, takes place from June 23 to 30. The city will be filled with music, workshops, dance, sports, live shows, exhibits, the biggest foam party in Europe, galas and more; and based on the success of past editions, it's likely that over 200,000 participants will join in with the fun and festivities that always have a serious message behind them.
Among the programme's highlights are: the reading of this year's LGBTI manifest, which sets out the aim and focus of Pride (Jun 23, 7pm, Plaça Universitat); varied activities for all at the Village and Main Stage (Jun 29-30, Avinguda Maria Cristina); and, of course, the fabulous Parade, including a pre-party and closing celebrations (Jun 30, start: Avinguda Paral·lel).
With the beaches full and holiday season in full swing, Barcelona welcomes back two of its most emblematic summer events, Circuit Festival and Girlie Circuit. Billed respectively as the biggest international gay festival and the biggest international lesbian festival, and both produced by Barcelona's Matinee Group, they see thousands of visitors from across the world come to the Catalan capital for days of parties. Circuit is 11 days of fun with a programme that includes: pool parties, including the biggest and most popular event of the festival, the Water Park Day (which lasts all day and goes on into the night) at the nearby La Isla Fantasia water park; DJ sessions (with performances by some of the biggest names on the gay scene); and club nights. Girlie follows a similar pattern albeit for fewer days, this year running from August 14 to 19.
Barcelona celebrates the end of summer with a city festival to honour one of its patron saints, La Mercè, whose feast day is September 24. It's a huge event that runs for several days with many free activities for all ages taking place across the city.
Among the most popular are the procession of 'giants' and 'big heads', elaborate papier-mâché constructions that represent both historical characters and fantastical beasts, the display of castellers ('human towers') in front of City Hall, and the correfoc, which literally means 'fire run' and sees demons with firecrackers dancing with well-protected members of the public under their showers of sparks. Throughout the festival, Ciutadella Park hosts numerous events including theatre and dance shows and there are also concerts, audiovisual shows and other cultural contributions from a guest city, which this year is the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. BAM is the music festival of La Mercè, and offers a full programme of concerts.
At night, fireworks fill the sky with fabulous pyrotechnic displays befitting such an important fixture on the Barcelona calendar.
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