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Following the Catalan tradition of stands devoted to the Christmas holidays, the fair of the Sagrada Família offers many types of complements, from figures and accessories for the traditional nativity scenes to Christmas trees and various decorations. The handicrafts from different countries and by different artists also stand out. The festive atmosphere around this characteristic area of Barcelona is complemented with daily animation groups, which give out balloons and sweets and offer wine and cookie tasting.
The Spanish tradition of the Three Wise Men would not be the same without the Fair of the Three Wise Men that is organized every year along the avenue Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, between the streets of Muntaner and Calàbria. There you can find all kinds of toys, gifts, handicrafts and Christmas typical products. If you want, it is also possible to bring new toys to the stands of solidarity there. In Catalonia and Spain, the night of the January 5th is the most important day for all the children because the Three Wise Men visit every home and leave presents and toys for them while they sleep. According to the tradition, the previous days the children have to write a letter to Their Majesties the Three Wise Men asking for the presents they want and guaranteeing they have behaved well during the year that is ending. Otherwise, the Three Wise Men (that know everything) will leave them sweet coal instead of presents. Since times have changed, today the children can send their letter via email or through the website of the Three Wise Men, as well as via regular mail or through a royal page. The Fair of the Three Wise Men is also open on the night of January 5th until 3 am, in case Their Majesties have any last minute emergency.
It is said that this is the most magical night of the year, and these three characters are definitely to 'blame'. The Three Kings are enthusiastically welcomed by children and adults every 5 January, just a few hours before they visit our homes bringing gifts for everyone who has been good during the rest of the year. The afternoon of the 5th of January, the Three Kings, with the amazing entourage, will most probably reach the city by sea, docking at the Barcelona Port and then they will parade around the city, giving sweets to the crowds as a prelude to this unique night. The Three King's floats, magnificently decorated, reflect all of the excitement and magic of this special tradition. Weeks beforehand, boys and girls have sent their letter to the Three Kings, asking for their gifts and at last they will see them in real life.
The Parade starts from Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera at 6pm. The Three Kings and their retinue will then make their way through Pla de Palau, Pg. Isabel II, Via Laietana, Pl. Urquinaona, Fontanella, Pl. Catalunya, Pelai, Pl. Universitat, Rda. Sant Antoni, Sepúlveda, Av. Paral·lel, Pl. Espanya and Av. Reina Maria Cristina.
A large area, totally free of traffic, with different places to explore, most of them in the open air. That’s the Poble Espanyol de Barcelona, an iconic visitor attraction in the heart of Montjuïc. Every Sunday, there’s a different activity: theatre, dance, music, magic, treasure hunts, etc. Throughout the year there are loads of activities to ensure you have a great day out with the family: Carnival, a Giants’ Parade, a Puppet Festival, the Click and Go Fair, the Main Festival, the Medieval Fair, Christmas at the Poble, Halloween... and new additions, including a fantastic flower festival and Midsummer Eve party tailored to all the family. In short, a wide range of activities for all the family.
On 2, 3 and 4 January, some very special guests will be arriving in Plaça Catalunya and on the Santa Eulàlia schooner at the Moll de la Fusta: the pages of their Majesties the Three Kings of the Orient, who will be welcoming all the children who want to deliver their letters in person.
The time for this traditional presentation will be from 11:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 18:00 in Plaça Catalunya. You will also find all kinds of games, sports and other entertainment for the kids in a wonderfully-decorated venue.
The times for delivering letters to the schooner in the Port are 10:30 to 14:30 and 16:00 to 19:30.
After seven years, this concert become a new tradition in the city. It is a carol concert by the Orfeó Català, the Barcelona city choir. Organized by the Barcelona City Council, the concert is free and open to everyone wishing to enjoy the most emblematic carols of the country, in the idyllic setting of the Plaça del Rei. Conducted by Pablo Larraz, the Orfeó will go through songs that instil the Christmas spirit and which have been passed down from parents to children for centuries.
Experience one of Catalonia's longest-running cultural traditions, an annual event that in 2008 UNESCO declared to be part of its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Patum of the north Catalan town of Berga. The festivities, which date back to medieval times, take place during the week of Corpus Christi and originated as part of the Catholic Church's efforts to educate congregations about the lessons contained in the holy scriptures; in the face of general illiteracy, theatrical representations of the fight between good and evil were employed, and over time, these gradually became more elaborate and the focus of the celebrations. A patum is defined as a figure that represents a fantastical creature and appears in processions and traditional festivities, although it's also the sound ('pa-tum') made by the drums that play a key role in the numerous parades involved. Today's Patum is an amazing sight, with various celebrations taking place that feature fireworks, live music, acrobatics and a multitude of characters including eagles, dwarves and giants, angels and demons, and many locals in historical outfits.
"They invited me along to enjoy this traditional Catalan festival. This celebration, with its fireworks, live music, acrobatics and locals dressed in period costume, is one of Catalonia's most ancient cultural traditions."
For many Barcelona culture lovers, summer means one thing: the Grec Festival, a wide-ranging arts event that sees the city through one of the hottest months of the year and into its traditional holiday period. Theatre, dance, music, circus and children's activities fill Barcelona's venues, although it is the iconic Teatre Grec that not only gives the festival its name but also provides the location for some of the most atmospheric performances.
On 1 and 2 July, the Frankfurt Dresden Dance Company, a highly prestigious company directed by the choreograph Jacopo Godani, is officially opening this year's Grec Festival of Barcelona, with a Mixed program: Metamorphers, Echoes from a restless soul, Moto perpetuo. The Festival will be directed for the first time by Cesc Casadesús.
This year, the Grec Festival is divided into two sections: the Grec Montjuïc that gathers performances, often from international companies, which can be seen for a few days, offering a good display of contemporary creativity, particularly focusing on the Mediterranean. Some of the performances programed are the latest creation of the prestigious company, Complicité with the Schaubühne de Berlín, “Beware of pity” (8 and 9 July; Teatre Lliure - Sala Fabià Puigserver). The new creation by Dimitris Papaioannou, “The Great Tamer”, (2-4 July; Mercat de les Flors- Sala Maria Aurèlia Capmany). The Aerites Dance Company will present the choreography “Cementary” (7 and 8 July; Mercat de les Flors- Sala Maria Aurèlia Capmany) and with “Clean City” (13 and 14 July; Teatre Lliure - Sala Fabià Puigserver), Anestis Azas and Prodromos Tsinikoris make all the cleaning ladies of Athens go up on stage.
Also speaking about Greece is Wajdi Mouawad, a producer of Lebanese origin, who brings to Teatre Lliure (21 and 22 July the diptych “Des mourants”, and the director Carme Portaceli, who directs “Troyanas” with actresses and actors such as Aitana Sánchez–Gijón, Ernesto Alterio, Míriam Iscla and Pepa López, plus others (Teatre Grec; 30 July). The new proposal from James Thierrée and the Compagnie du Hanneton, “La grenouille avait raison” will be held at Teatre Lliure - Sala Fabià Puigserver (26 and 27 July,) his new magical fusion of various performing arts.
At Grec Ciutat, we will find long-standing suggestopms by local companies such as a sala BARTS, Jamboree, Harlem Jazz Club and loads of theaters, from the Biblioteca de Catalunya “Bodas de sangre” (Blood Wedding) , directed by Oriol Broggi (until 28 July), to Teatre Romea with “E.V.A.”, by the T de Teatre (from 3 to 30 July), or Sala Beckett with “Un tret al cap”, by Pau Miró, interpreted by Emma Vilarasau, and others (from 5 to 30 July) and “Tender Napalm” by the Sixto Paz company, (8. 9. 15 and 16 July).
These are just some of the names that form part of a wide and diverse program, which this year is structured in itineraries in order to facilitate selection by spectators.
You will find the whole program and details of the itineraries in the website.
Enjoy the Grec Festival and have a good trip!
"I've seldom enjoyed such an eclectic culturefest. Theatre, dance, music, circus performances and activities for kids liven up the long summer days Barcelona. The iconic Teatre Grec hosts some of the most inspiring performances."
Gràcia is one of the most popular areas in Barcelona, thanks to its bustling squares, alternative ambience and this neighbourhood festival (festa major), which sees locals decorate many of its streets and is this year celebrating its 200th anniversary. But the decorations don't just involve throwing up some bunting and balloons. Associations for each street involved spend months coming up with a theme, collecting the items needed for their decorations (often recycled objects) and creating the papier-mâché constructions that they hope will win them one of the prizes for best dressed street. Beach scenes, creatures of all shapes and sizes, characters from literature, and simple but beautiful, light-filled abstract images – the fact that they will only be up for a week or so doesn't ever mean that participants stint on ideas and effort. It's not just about the décor though, with concerts, stalls selling food and drink and much more attracting visitors throughout the day and especially at night.
"I'd already enjoyed visiting the Gràcia neighbourhood, but when its main festival arrived and its streets were decked out in amazing decorations on different themes, and the squares hosted concerts and other events, all I could do was think of moving here to live."
Of all the memorable Catalan traditions, which include 'fire runs' and dancing 'giants', it's arguably the human towers that have the most impact on those watching them. To enjoy a true festival of these "castells", head to Vilafranca de Penedès for its annual festa major at the end of August, which commemorates the town's patron Sant Fèlix. Some of Catalonia's leading "casteller" groups, including the local Castellers de Vilafranca, take part, showing off their amazing skills. Each human tower is an exemplary example of team work, from the crowd forming the supporting "pinya" at the bottom via the columns formed as each level rises and culminating with the youngest members of the crew scampering right to the very top to crown the construction, which is officially completed once the smallest of all (l'enxaneta) raises his or her hand. Last year's event made history with the execution of four towers of 10 levels each, two of which were, to the particular joy of those watching, by the town's castellers.
"One of the Catalan traditions that had the greatest visual impact on me. Working in teams, groups of castellers build human towers until the structure is solid enough for a small child to climb right to the top. If you really want to enjoy castellers, a visit to Vilafranca del Penedès on this day is a great choice."
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