Ice Rink 2014

As we have mentioned previously in our blog, sunny Barcelona is gearing up for the festive season, thought the weather outside is far from Christmassy at the moment! Yesterday the Barcelona Trade Foundation opened the ice rink in Plaza Catalunya. In recent years this has become a regular part of Christmas in Barcelona, and has been enjoyed by locals and visitors to the city alike.

Dubbed BarGelona (gel is Catalan for ice), the skating rink is open to the public from today, Friday, November 21 and will remain open until Sunday the 11th of January 2015.

BarGelona is run by the Barcelona Trade Foundation as a contribution to the Christmas atmosphere of the city. As well as creating some festive fun, Christmas is of course the year’s biggest shopping event and this is a way to stimulate spending in the nearby shops on Passeig de Gràcia and El Portal Del Angel.
This year will be BarGelona´s fourth edition, and this year new features include an emphasis on construction from sustainable materials, and a winter sports program.

The latter is linked to the Barcelona-Pyrenees bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. Though Barcelona is not typically associated with winter sports, the Pyrenees are just two hours from the city.

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The Christmas lights are on!

It is time to get festive with Barcelona’s Christmas lights now on! Each year the city surpasses itself in creating a more dazzling display than in the previous year.

This year no less than 85 kilometers of christmas lights will be hung on Barcelona’s streets! The first to go up will be Via Laietana, then the Old Town, Travessera de Dalt and Calle Ramón y Cajal.

This year as always, Plaza Catalunya will be one of the main areas of the Christmas lights. Barcelona’s central square, as this is also where the Christmas ice ring is located.

The ice skating is expected to attract around 100,000 people this year, thanks to a new simpler electronic access system, so don’t worry about having queue!

As well as the glow of festive lights to create a Christmas mood, some giant Christmas trees will be distributed around the city, with 13 trees that are a whopping at some 10 meters tall, as well as one enormous 18 metre tree on the Portal de l’Angel. Barcelona being an environmentally friendly city, the trees have been organically grown, and come from Sant Hilari Sacalm (Girona). The Christmas lights themselves are LED for low energy consumption.
This year the lights will also be hung in the Eixample district, spreading the Yule cheer away from the centre.

A competition for up and coming designers was behind the lights on Calle Aragon. These fade in and out, apparently evoking the blanket of stars that guided the wise men from the East to worship the baby Jesus. A similar competition lead to the humporous design seen in Gran Via, where the winning design is made of sets of letters forming syllables related to Spanish Christmas, as the Spanish Carol ‘Fum Fum Fum’ or bell chimes (‘dong dong dong’), as well as Xmas gastronomy (gulp gulp gulp and nyam nyam nyam).

While the popular perception of the city is one of sun and beaches, Christmas is a wonderful time of year to visit Barcelona. Winter is mild and sunny typically, and in low season when there are fewer visitors to the city. This makes it easier to see aspects of the city and its architecture which come July and August would be impossible. Queues for museums and galleries are short, and you will discover more of the cities true identity.

Posted in Barcelona fiestas, Christmas and new year Barcelona, Christmas lights in Barcelona, Concerts in Barcelona, Shopping in Barcelona, Sporting activities in Barcelona, Tapas in Barcelona | Leave a comment

Explore La Marina and eat tapas!

A bargain tapas offer. Every Friday starting at seven in the evening until eleven at night 19 establishments in the neighbourhood of La Marina will offer a top quality tapa and a drink for only 1.95 euros! Given the time of year, the menu will mainly include hot tapas to keep the cold at bay.

This route of tapas bars and restaurants lasts right up until Christmas so this is a great way to get into a festive spirit. Barcelona is a wonderful city in winter and a great place to celebrate Christmas. Also check out El Gotic and El Raval, both are wonderful festive barrios.

The route thought the lively La Marina district showcases the best the neighbourhood has to offer. Located between the Old Town and the Sagrada Familia, this is an area which many visitors to Barcelona miss. This tapas route aims to change this, and to introduce this friendly neighbourhood to outsiders with quality food and tapas at low cost; it also aims to help local people get to know better the best eateries in their neighbourhood.

To discover participating eateries you can see the website of the Association of Merchants of the district of La Marina Also keep your eyes peeled for posters and flyers in and around La Marina.

Bon profit!

Posted in Areas - The Eixample, Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Christmas and new year Barcelona | Leave a comment

The Strokes are confirmed for Primavera Sound 2015

New Yorkers ‘The Strokes’ are the first confirmed act for next year’s edition of Primavera Sound. The 2015 edition of Primavera sound will be the 15th edition and will be held between the 28th and the 30th of May at the Parc del Forum in Barcelona.

Official confirmation of the bands attendance came in a rather unusual ‘viral’ manner last Tuesday when a large canvas appeared on the Passeig del Born in Barcelona with the logo of the band, which come nightfall was illuminated by ultraviolet light that revealed the Primavera Sound logo.

Primavera Sound started in 2001, the same year as the Strokes debut album ‘ Is This It’ was released. The Strokes consist of New Yorkers Julian Casablancas , Albert Hammond Jr, Nikolae Fraiture , Nick Valensi and Fabrizio Moretti .

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L’alternativa 2014

L’Alternativa film festival opens today in Barcelona and lasts until the 23rd of November. The festival takes place at the CCCB in Barcelona every November. The aim of L’Alternativa is to showcase interesting international independent films that usually fail to achieve widespread distribution in mainstream cinemas, and to thus introduce new directors and new titles.

This is a film festival that embraces original film-making that experiments with different styles and tackles original subject matters. Typically these are thought provoking films that try to explore and understand the world we live in.

L’Alternative is an inclusive event offering a number of free screenings, film debates and workshops.

You can see the full programme here. If you are in Barcelona this weekend, L’Alternativa offers the chance to enjoy a unique cultural event just a stone’s throw away from Las Ramblas.

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Autumn in Barcelona’s Collserola Park

Autumn is a wonderful time to explore the Collserola Park situated on Barcelona’s western fringe. The intense summer hear has gone, making outdoor pursuits such as hiking more agreeable.

With a total area of 84.65 km², Collserola is the largest metropolitan park in the world – 8 times larger than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and 22 times larger than Central Park in New York. This means the park is a wonderful escape from the city, popular for walking, cycling and birdwatching. There are clearly marked hiking paths, including one noteworthy route from Vallvidrera to Sant Cugat, a route usually taken by commuter train.

As well as evergreen Mediterranean pine trees that are acclimatised to the heat, behind the Collserola Mountain in the shadier parts of the park you will find that mountain oaks predominate, as well as oaks and hazels, the deciduous trees that we associate with typical image of autumn.

Another unmistakable signal of the coming of autumn is the arrival of autumn fruits such as viburnum, the cane apple (or strawberry tree) or butcher’s-broom. Some of these seasonal fruits are edible, while others can be exceedingly toxic, says the technical and environmental education guide Claudia Yague, who is responsible for the nature walks organized by the Vallvidriera civic centre.

The Vallvidriera civic center organizes tours in which the public can learn more about the Collserola forest and the way it changes during different seasons.
Collserola Park contains over a thousand major plant varieties, and around thirty plant communities have been catalogued. These communities of plants include Aleppo pines and nut pines, evergreen oaklands, riverside copses, maquis and scrublands, brush and Savannah grasslands.

Such rich diversity allows for the existence of a remarkably varied wildlife including animal species such as wild boar, genets, badgers, rabbits and squirrels. Bird varieties include blue tits, woodpeckers, doves, goshawks, sparrow hawks, and rat-catching eagles. Reptiles include salamanders, newts, green tree frogs, the small southern frog, toads, the small spotted toad, the Mediterranean turtle, the giant turtle, the ocellated lizard, and several snake species.

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Open House Barcelona 2014

The Open House initiative began in France in 1984 and since then it has spread to cities all across the globe. The Open House initiative seeks to open up outstanding architecture for all to see, and to encourage dialogue about urban environments and architecture.

The project came to Barcelona in 2009, on the 25th of October 48h Open House BCN will ‘open its doors’ for its fifth edition. Visitors will have the chance to take a look inside over 150 buildings around the city that normally remain closed to the general public.

Barcelona is home to some amazing architecture. Firstly there is the diversity, with examples of building stock including Roman, mediaeval, Catalan art nouveau (and of course the works of Gaudi) and cutting edge contemporary. Then there is the quality of Barcelona’s architecture – art nouveau in Barcelona for example is unique, colourful and breathtaking. The cities medieval architecture is aesthetically and structurally unique. This is a city that oozes style, and always has done!
This year buildings opening their doors to the public include art nouveau apartments on Passeig de Gràcia to hotels, schools, libraries, shops and private homes. You can see Roman ruins, contemporary architecture, Catalan gothic, vernacular Catalan, neoclassical, Catalan modernist, and modern. Furthermore, architects and volunteers will be on hand to offer more information about the buildings.

Entry to every building is free, but if you do not feel like queuing you can buy a pass that gives priority entrance. This costs €35 for a day or €50 for a weekend. For more information on Open House Barcelona, visit their website here.

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El Lissitzky at La Pedrera

This October the Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera will fearture an exhibition the work of one of the most influential and controversial experimental artists of the early 20th century, El Lissitzky, who worked with the Soviet and the European avant-garde in the 1920s, and went on to produce Propaganda for Russia’s Stalinist regime in the 1930s.

Lazar Markovich Lissitzky was a Russian-Jewish artist, designer, architect and photographer, who was known simply as El Lissitzky. He started his career illustrating children’s books and went on to become one of the Revolutions most committed artists in the search for a renewal of art for “new man”. His entire career was guided by the belief that the artist could be an agent of social change.

El Lissitzky lived on the frontline of the turbulent social transformations which Russia underwent in the early 20th century, and in his art formed a new universal language at the service of society, and was able to capture the spirit of modernity and understand that any field of creation was valid in the modernist oeuvre.

One of the most important features of El Lissitzkys work and life was that he had the ability to connect and act as a catalyst for innovative ideas born in the Soviet Union and Western Europe, and to transgress boundaries and borders. He experimented with multiple production techniques and stylistic devices that would later dominate the graphic design, exhibition design and photomontage of the twentieth century.

From: 21st of October 2014 to the 18th of January 2015
Entrance: 3 euros
La Pedrera: 92 Passeig de Gràcia

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Voll Damm International Jazz Festival 2014

Barcelona’s iconic jazz fest returns, and though this year will be its 46th edition, is not showing any signs of slowing down, returning with another stellar line up. The Voll Dam jazz festival has always succeeded in enticing a wide range of exciting and popular international acts and it is a long established date in the calendar of the international jazz scene. Jazz concerts are held all over the city in different venues, from the small and atmospheric Harlem Jazz club to larger cultural venues such as the Auditori and the Palau de la Música.

Here is the line up for October at this year’s Voll Damm International Festival.

Jean-Philippe Guy. Oct 17th, 8.30pm. Harlem Jazz Club
Jaques Morelenbaum Cello Samba Trio. Oct 17th, 9pm. L’Auditori
The Campbell Brothers. Oct 18th, 9pm. Apolo
Joachim Kühn. Oct 23rd, 8.30pm. Conservatori del Liceu
Vicente Amigo. Oct 24th, 9pm. Palau de la Música
Adriana Ospina. Oct 24th, 8.30pm. Harlem Jazz Club
Wayne Shorter Quartet. Oct 28th, 9pm. L’Auditori
Zakir Hussain & Masters of Percussion. Oct 29th, 9pm. Barts
Kurt Rosenwinkel & Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos. Oct 30th, 9pm
Rudresh Mahanthappa Gamak. Oct 31st, 9pm. Luz de Gas
Amélie Angelbaut. Oct 31st, 8.30pm. Harlem Jazz Club

The Voll Dam Jazz Festival takes place from October the 17th to November the 30th, 2014. Nice!

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Mercat de Mercats

In Barcelona and throughout Catalunya, food markets are a feature of everyday life. Why shop in a supermarket where the food arrives on the shelf after a long process of transportation and storage when you can eat fresh and local fruit, vegetables, meat and fish? Markets are also often the focus of a community, a place to bump into neighbours, chat, or drink a coffee in a bar. In this sense they offer much more than just shopping, but are part of Catalan life and culture. Markets such as La Boqueria de Sant Josep on Les Rambles have become famous globally in recent years. Municipal markets are funded by the ajuntament (Barcelona’s city council) to make them economically viable in the face of competition from supermarkets.

This October the best of Barcelona’s market stalls will come together on the Plaza de la Catedral, in the old town to show their wares at the 5th annual edition of Mercat de Mercats, a gastronomic celebration of all that is good in Catalan food.

At Mercat de Mercats all of Barcelona’s district food markets will be in attendance, with a selection of individual stalls from each setting up shop to offer their finest fare.

The event is divided into different areas—the wine cellar, market stalls, tapas, and the cooking school. Local food and wine producers will be taking part, as will a number of bars and restaurants. Alongside the market there will be talks, workshops, and tastings run by local chefs and wine experts. This is a must for anyone who loves Catalan cuisine, or anyone who would like to find out more.

Entry is free and drinks and tapas are available at a variety of prices

Posted in Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Barcelona fiestas, Barcelona Gastronomy, Bars in Barcelona, Catalan traditions and culture, Tapas in Barcelona | Leave a comment