Festas de Gràcia 2014

Every August Gràcia hosts Barcelona’s biggest street party, La Festa Major de Gràcia. This summer the Festa takes take place from the 15th to the 21st of August, and is set to be a bigger party than ever before. Plaça de les Dones has been added to the Festa, and Providència Street will once again be a part of the proceedings as also. decked in its editing and more preventive security measures spaces.

Traditionally this has been very much a neighbourhood party for the residents of Gràcia. However, the president of the Festa Major de Gràcia Foundation, Carla Carbonell, announced at a press conference on Monday that more and more tourists are attending the Festas each year, and so the this year leaflets will be distributed in Catalan and English in Gràcia explaining the values of the Festa. Locals rightly fear that otherwise tourism will takeover their party and alter its identity.

New safety measures are being introduced this year due to this greater interest from tourists, and ensure the safety of all. This is a multi generational party with small children and great grandparents taking part, a true Spanish family affair.

Gràcia district councilor, Maite Fandos, has explained that to minimize the effect of the large number of people at the party a one-way street system will be implemented in seven of the busiest streets in order to prevent overcrowding. First aid teams will be on hand during the festival as well as marshals whose job it will be to provide advance warning of ‘correfocs’ (street level firework displays) to those with sensitive hearing. This year there will also be noise level restrictions for the first time, aimed at the 100 live music performances taking place.

Technology is being incorporated into the Festa for the first time. A downloadable Festa de Gràcia App is being developed. This interacts with Google maps where events are plotted, and allows users to set reminders for any performances or events they do not wish to miss, and then to navigate their way there. As well as the App, this year QR codes will be placed streets and squares, allowing party-goers to access information and the program of events via their phone.

Enjoy the Festas de Gràcia!

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Kitesurfing in Castelldefels

Castelldefels, for those who have not visited, is a charming seaside town no more than 20 minutes train ride to the south of Barcelona. Castelldefels boasts an expansive and beautiful sandy beach, and it is here that Barcelona’s first dedicated kite surfing area has just been created. The sport is popular in Spain, where year round sunshine and safe waters make for perfect kitesurfing conditions.

However kitesurfing is banned in many areas for safety reasons, including along the shores of Barcelona. The sport consists of strapping ones feet to a board, much like surf or windsurf board, which is attached to a large kite that pulls the board along at great speed. Obviously this can be very dangerous in area where there are bathers in the water, or even where other water sports are taking place.

The area for kitesurfing in Castelldefels is found at La Pineda beach, where there is a newly opened office from where kite-surfing is tightly managed. If you want to kite-surf at La Pineda, first you will need to go to the office and obtain a permit as well as a special coloured lifejacket to ensure your safety by making you highly visible to life guards as well as other people on the water.

Kitesurfing at Castelldefels is only permitted in the afternoon from Monday to Friday and not at the weekend, and only when conditions are suitable – i.e. when there is a wind speed greater than 15 knots.

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Tapas in Horta

The Barcelona district of Horta-Guinardó presented its tapas route ‘tasts d’Horta-Guinardó’ to be launched today, the 16th of July 2104. For those who do not know Barcelona, this district in the northeast of the city and is off the beaten tourist path but is a pleasant district to explore, close to the Sagrada Familia area.

With the participation of 28 bars and restaurants, an exciting new set of tapas tasting routes is opening in Horta-Guinardó. These will take place one day a week, on Wednesdays from 19:00 to 22:00 hours. These offer you the chance to enjoy tapas at a price of a mere 1.95 euros, including a beverage

Similar campaigns have been held in other Spanish cities including Bilbao, Sevilla and Madrid. Often taking place on Thursdays, these have all been a great success, helping to entice both tourists and locals alike into parts of the city they might not otherwise frequent.

In Barcelona, the five new taps routes found are in Horta, Font d’en Fargues, Guinardó, Can Baró and Teixonera. This is a gourmet treat – you can taste skewers of Iberian pork with onions, mustard and brie, a chicken sandwich with bacon, onion, cheese and three sauces, veal tataki with mediterranean vinaigrette, or sirloin steak with chimichurri source on a bed of potatoes, or a coca (Catalan pizza) with goats cheese.

When you visit Barcelona remember that there is so much more to be seen than Las Ramblas, Gaudi and the Old Town!

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El Prado Exhibits in Barcelona

The Table of Madness, by the Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch, arrived at the CaixaForum in Barcelona on Wednesday. The work is on loan form the Museu Del Prado in Madrid where it has and will form a central part of an interesting new Caixa Forum exhibition “La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado” (Captive beauty. Small treasures of the Prado Museum).

This exhibition, which opens on July 15 at the CaixaForum (between Plaça Espanya and Montjuïc), will have a total of 135 works on loan from the Prado. What makes this exhibition all the more remarkable is that there are very few surviving works by Bosch in the world. The Prado collection is perhaps the most important. King Philip II of Spain had a special interest in this painter, and as ruler of the Low Countries at the time he was able to assemble a fine collection of the Bosch’s works and these have remained in the Spanish capital ever since.

Due to the age and rare nature of Bosch’s work, conservation is a concern. For this reason the collection generally does not leave Madrid often, and when they do, only those that are least at risk are loaned to other Museums. This makes the forthcoming exhibition in Barcelona all the more special, and furthermore admission to all exhibitions at the CaixaFourm in Barcelona is free for everybody.

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Bread & Butter meets Pan con Tomate

Barcelona is a city and a brand synonymous with style and fashion, and so it is good news that the urban fashion fair Bread & Butter Barcelona will return to Barcelona from the 8th to the 10th of January next year.

According to the founder of the Bread & Butter brand, Karl-Heinz Müller, the event will occupy a staggering 100,000 square feet, virtually all of the Fira de Barcelona’s Montjuic site.

The event returns to Barcelona in an attempt to recapture some of the Mediterranean market which has been in decline since Bread & Butter moved to Berlin in 2009.

The winter edition of Bread & Butter always faced stiff competition from other fashion salons in Berlin and Amsterdam and negotiations between Müller and the urban fashion and Fira Barcelona have been a long process.

The summer edition of Bread & Butter will remain in Berlin, with Barcelona’s sunnier climes hosting the winter edition. A first foray into the Asian market has also been announced, with Seoul elected for a new edition from the 3rd to the 5th of September next year. Organisers describe the city as “young, progressive, hungry, independent, and full of street life and energy”.

In the penultimate edition of Bread & Butter in Barcelona in 2008, over 90,000 people attended, and it was just days before the celebration of the winter edition in 2009 when La Vanguardia newspaper announced the organization’s decision to return to Berlin after offered them free use of Tempelhof airport to tempt them back. It’s departure was a heavy blow to the economies of the city and of the Fira de Barcelona, and hence shortly afterwards a new fashion event was launched in Barcelona, the Brandery.

Book your attendance here.

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WEDJ’s Barcelona 2014

The WEDJ’s Festival celebrates its 5th edition this year this June from the 18th of July. WEDJ aims to bring Barcelona the coolest names international dance in a live session every Wednesday this summer at Opium Barcelona, right next to the beach.

All performances will be individual at affordable prices, offering you the chance to see top name DJs at a fraction of the ordinary cost, in surroundings offering superb lighting and sound systems.

Last year’s festival proved to be a sell out success, with sets from stars such as Steve Aoki, Afrojack, Sebastian Ingrosso, Martin Solveig, Nicky Romero, Alesso, Nervo and Roger Sanchez.

This year the festival again boasts a dazzling line up including Koyou Deniz, the Dutch king of trance and house Sander Van Door, Thomas Gold, quintessential trance producer Armin Van Buuren, and other heavyweights such as Martin Solveig, Roger Sanchez and Brian Cross.

The warm up of each session is provided by resident DJ Frank Caro (81 bcn). DJ since the age of 19, Frank cut his teeth in clubs such as Amnesia and Pacha BCN.

The festival, which takes place in Opium, facing the sea at the foot of Hotel Arts Barcelona (Paseo Marítimo de la Barceloneta 34), is organized by the East Coast group company, managers of legendary Barcelona night clubs such as Scrap Metal, Jimmyz, Opium, Nuba and Bling Bling

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Barcelona Hotel Terrace Week 2014

With the arrival of summer, Hotel Terraces Week in Barcelona is soon upon us. Owed to the success of past editions, this year it will last longer than in previous years and is to be held between May the 30th and June the 8th.

The number of participating Hotels has also increased, with some 60 establishments confirmed to date, which are 9 more than last year. Hotel Terraces Week was launched by the Hotel Association of Barcelona in 2011, and in this fourth edition it is expected that the attendance will exceed the 20,000 visitors of last year.

For ten days, free of charge, each of the participating hotels offers cultural and leisure activities on their terrace. Likewise, each hotel will offer its own cuisine, which incorporates a variety of Torres wines (Torres are the official sponsor of the event).

Some 228 different activities will be made available among the participating hotels, including food, music, cooking workshops, cookery demonstrations, live music, zumba and dance workshops, ham tastings, magic shows, opera, gin and tonics and cocktails, jugglers, children’s workshops and many more.
Among the highlights are the Hotel Claris, the Granados 83 and the Bagués Derby Hotels Collection. The Hotel Claris is offering Spanish ham tasting with Manuel López de Reserva Ibérica. A cooking show will be held at the Bagués on Friday the 30th, Friday 6th and Saturday 7th and at the Granados 83 on Friday the 30th, Wednesday the 4th and Thursday the 5th, all at 20:00 . This will consist of a live cookery demonstration where you can discover the art of preparing tartars of tuna and beef at the hands of the Hotels professional chefs.

The terrace of the Hotel Duquesa de Cardona will be offering live music, DJs and samba and funk groups, mojitos, swing classes and gin and tonic workshops.
Don’t miss out on some free fun in spectacular locations!

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Barcelona’s bid for UNESCO 2014 City of Literature

Last week Jaume Ciurana, deputy mayor for culture for Barcelona, announced that Barcelona was making a bid for the 2014 City of Literature Title.

Barcelona has long been a city associated with literature. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Eduardo Mendoza Garriga, Juan Goytisolo and George Orwell have all been associated with Barcelona’s literary scene over the years. This is not a new phenomena, the oldest known book in Spain is a medieval cookery book written in Catalan.

UNESCO’s City of Literature program was launched in 2004 and is part of its Creative Cities Network whose aim is to promote cultural wealth. Previous cities to hold the title include Edinburgh, Norwich, Reykjavik, Dublin, Melbourne, Krakow and Iowa City.

The president of the Publishers Guild of Catalunya, Daniel Fernandez, has said: “There are many cities which are cities of the book, which have literature running through the core of their identity, and Barcelona has it. There are also several cities that are capitals of the publishing industry, but Barcelona has something special to it, being the capital publishing in both Catalan and Spanish. With the death of García Márquez so recent, we must remember that without Catalan publishers the Latin American boom would never have happened. So linking the identity of Barcelona as a city even more closely with the world of literature is a great idea .If in a few years time we have gone from being a ‘city of fairs and congresses’ to a ‘world capital of literature’, this is something that will make me proud. For our part we will do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

The Socialist candidate for mayor, Jaume Collboni, has expressed his interest in and support for the idea, adding that the proposal “had planted a very interesting seed.”

The application requires the submission of a formal letter from the mayor of the city, and a dossier of proposal, approved by the National Committee of the UNESCO and supported by professional associations linked to the publishing world.

At a time when all heads are turned towards economic issues, this award would act as a reminder that cultural issues still matter and that Barcelona has an enormous amount to offer and to be proud of culturally.

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Plan your day at the beach with Infoplatges!

Before going to the beach in Barcelona this summer check your Smartphone. Thanks to the “Infoplatges” (beach info) app which the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) has just developed, you can access all the information you would need in order to plan a day of chilling at the beach. The Infoplatges App tool will tell you not only meteorological information such as the weather, the state of the sea and the local weather forecast, but also information on facilities and activities available at each beach, directions, emergency information and other recommendations.

All information is real-time and constantly updated. Infoplatges is the latest example of Barcelona’s local government’s efforts to use technology to connect with its citizens. Other examples include the AMBtemps Bus that lets you know the arrival time of any metropolitan bus and AMB Taxi Barcelona that allows you to calculate the cost amount of any taxi journey within the city.

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Barcelona’s Top Destination – La Roca Village

Ever wondered what the most visited tourist destination in Barcelona is? If you were to take a guess, you probably might say Las Ramblas, the Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum or perhaps the Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona.

All of these very sensible guesses would be wrong. In fact recent statistics from the Barcelona tourist board indicate that the most visited tourist attraction throughout the whole province of Barcelona (as opposed to just the city itself) is an out of town shopping centre!

La Roca Village shopping centre holds the title, after some 3.3 million people in 2013. La Roca is a factory outlet shopping mall located 30 minutes from both Barcelona and Girona by car or bus. La Roca Village offers big brands at prices reduced by up to 60%. It is near the village of Santa Agnès de Malanyanes, and actually located parallel to the motorway.

La Roca received more visitors than the Sagrada Família, which received a mere 3,176,970 people in comparison. The next most visited monument in the province of Barcelona was Montserrat Monastery, with nearly 2.4 million visits, followed by the Circuit de Catalunya (the veunue of the F1 racing) with just over 620,000 visits, followed by the Natural Park of Montseny which attracted 196,000 visitors.

Back in the capital, the top 5 attractions were headed by the Sagrada Família, followed by the Aquarium with 1,718,000 visitors, the Barça Museum with 1.5 million visitors, the Poble Espanyol with 1,258,000 visitors and the Montjuïc castle with 1,072,000 visitors.

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