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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.
The feast day of Catalan patron saint Sant Jordi (Saint George in English) on April 23 is one of the most festive in Barcelona. Across the region, it's celebrated as a day of love and literature; according to tradition, men gift a rose to their lover while women buy a book for their partner. City streets are filled with book and flower stalls, and people stroll around enjoying the special atmosphere.
Many local organisations mark the day in their own way: this year Casa Batlló covers its façade with roses, while Casa de les Punxes holds activities that explore the legend of Saint George and the dragon. You can also try the innovative Sant Jordi bread, a soft loaf that's made with cheese, spicy ‘sobrassada' sausage and walnuts to create the colours of the Catalan flag.
Barcelona is noted as a literary city; not only is it an important centre of publishing in both the Spanish and Catalan languages, in December 2015, UNESCO named Barcelona among the latest intake for its City of Literature programme. You can appreciate this facet of the city by taking a literary tour, or going to one of the special Sant Jordi events: Món Llibre, held the weekend before Sant Jordi (Apr 14, 15), is a literary festival for children and young adults held at the CCCB and MACBA; Sant Jordi Dialogues (Apr 19-21) are dedicated to authors, both national and international, in conversation about their work; and the Night of the Dragon (Apr 22) pays tribute to Catalan authors whose birth or death anniversaries fall this year.
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.
This is the number one architectural event in the city of Barcelona - an open house weekend in October that includes more than 200 buildings of all kinds, shapes and sizes. This initiative, which here is organised by the 48h Open House Barcelona Association, started off in London in 1992 and since then the Open House concept has taken root worldwide: New York, Dublin, Galway, Tel Aviv and, since 2010, Barcelona all have their own weekends dedicated to local architecture.
'Open House' offers an exceptional opportunity to understand and 'feel' architecture based on the architectural experience; the programme invites everyone to come and explore and appreciate the value of a well-constructed and designed space. What's more, in recent years, the scope of Barcelona's event has widened to include cities and towns in the metropolitan area and on the Maresme coast – on the list of buildings to visit, you'll find churches, schools, sports centres, apartment blocks, libraries and restaurants.
This 'market of markets' has become an unmissable event on Barcelona's calendar for lovers of good food and drink, featuring three days of the best that the city's many fresh food markets have to offer.
Anyone who's been in Barcelona for more than about a day knows full well that its food markets (of which there are an impressive 39), are a joy to behold. From the smallest neighbourhood establishments to the world-famous Boqueria, the products on sale are varied, colourful and endlessly enticing. Fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, eggs of all sizes, pre-cooked legumes, dried fruits… and all served by really knowledgeable stallholders.Visit the Mercat de Mercats in front of the Cathedral to try tapas, buy fresh, healthy food, and see some of the best chefs in the city and from around Catalonia show off their know-how and the traditions of local cooking. If you're so inclined, there are also wine, cava, vermouth, coffee and even olive oil tastings, among numerous other such activities.
During the Year of Trade and Culture, organized by the Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Trade Foundation, from 4 May to 15 November, every Friday from 5.30pm to 8.30pm, the stores of the Barcelona Comerç shopping centers will become the stage for opera singers. They will perform various Neapolitan songs and arias, with each piece related to the activity of the store hosting their performance. A total of ten songs will be performed every Friday at ten different stores of a particular shopping center that day, creating a route of opera which customers can follow.
Opera to trade aims to bring this often unknown, lyrical genre to the general public. It also wishes to reinforce the citizen interrelations represented by local trade in Barcelona.
Some of the opera singers taking part include the countertenor Sergio Monsalve, the mezzo soprano Andrea Orjuela, the soprano Charo Tris, Fernanco Álvarez and Toni Galera. They will be joined by the emerging voices and students of the Conservatorio del Liceu and ESMUC, such as César Cortés from Colomibia, who recently won the Lyrical Award of the Reial Cercle Artístic.
The stars of alfresco summer evenings in the city will be classical music and jazz. The "Music in the parks" program will once again fill the parks of Barcelona with sound.
These free concerts in June, July and August will take place in various venues of the city. These include the Ciutadella Park, the "Aigües" Park, Guinardó Park, Ca l'Alena Gardens, Turo del Putxet Park, and many more. The inaugural concert features The Sey Sisters in the Barceloneta park. And on 21 June, World Music Day, there will be a special concert at La Model.
This year you will also be able to join a guided tour to discover the secrets of the most unique parks and gardens of Barcelona.
Barcelona wouldn’t be Barcelona without the Rambla. A wander up and down this famous boulevard is a ritual well worth observing. Just soak up the atmosphere and admire the buildings, from the Canaletes fountain to the Columbus Monument, which connect the old and modern city with places like Liceu and Boqueria. A walk through the life and history of the city.
Barcelona and its home-grown art nouveau movement, modernisme, go hand in hand. The style emerged in all its glory at the end of the 19th century to reveal itself in hundreds of extremely beautiful buildings which line the way. Let yourself be captivated once again by these masterpieces in a style full of opulence, fantasy, symbolism and colour.
Barcelona is known throughout the world for its architecture. This is why the city didn't want to fall behind in the race to have some of the world's finest contemporary buildings. The names of today's great architects and artists are present in almost every city neighbourhood.
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