Barcelona is a leading international music destination. Music has always played a key part in the history of this city and its many festivos; this is a city which loves to party and knows how to live well, even by Spanish standards.
Since Barcelona was totally regenerated in 1992 when it hosted the Olympic Games it has become a well established ‘cool city’ with its popularity growing thanks to sites such as Las Ramblas, the Sagrada Familia, the cities beaches, and FC Barcelona and the Camp Nou. Thanks to this popularity the city has attracted a number of large new international music festivals such as Sonar and Primavera Sound. But Barcelona offer music to suit all tastes, not just young ravers. The city has a long Jazz tradition, as well as of course traditional Catalan music, and the Spanish Flamenco music bought to Catalunya by immigrants from southern Spain.
Below are the key musical happenings that come to Barcelona each year:
Pulling punters from all over the world, the sound of Primavera Sound celebrates the arrival of spring in Barcelona in late May or early June. Musical styles at Primavera Sound include alternative, indie, electronic, pop, hip hop, dance, metal, jazz and experimental music.
Primavera Sound is one of the largest and most important alternative music festivals in the world. In 2013 large names such as Metz, Blur, the Beach House, the XX and Dead Can Dance played to a crowd of over 100,000.
The Festival Grec is an entertainment festival run throughout the summer by the Ajuntament, Barcelona’s city council. It takes its name from the Greek style open-air theatre the Teatre Grec on Montjuïc that is a venue for many events. Other interesting cultural landmarks in the city such as the Miró Museum and the MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art are also used.
The Festival Grec has offered seriously famous names over the years and ticket prices are cheap – the likes of Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Lou Reed, B.B. King and Bob Dylan have played here.
Sonar is at the cutting edge of electronic music and place in Sao Paulo and Tokyo as well as Barcelona. Musical styles such as techno, house, drum and bass and hip hop are represented.
In 2013 the line up included such names as New Order, The Roots, Laurent Garnier, Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Lana Del Rey to name just a few.
Sónar By Day takes place at the Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in the Raval District next to Las Ramblas, while Sónar by Night takes place the city centre.
Festes de Gràcia
The Festes de Gracia are an 8-day long street party which take place in August. Music figures very centrally (and is played 24 hours a day!), with many free concerts as well as plenty of eating, drinking, dancing and Catalan traditions such as Geants (giant mannequins with a person inside), Castellers (human pyramids) and correfocs (street firework display).
As well as these festivities the whole neighbourhood is decorated. Each street is decorated by its residents, in much the same way as Carnivals feature costumes.
Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM)
The BAM (Barcelona Acció Musical) takes place each year during the Festes de la Merce in September. The free concerts offered usually include jazz and singer-songwriters; this is the main event of so Barcelona (Barcelona Sound).
Festival L’Hora del Jazz 2012
Also taking place in September is the Festival L’Hora del Jazz, with free concerts every Sunday at in Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia and Plaza Sant Joan de Vilafranca del Penedès.
Barcelona International Jazz Festival
Jazz is an exceedingly popular in Barcelona and the Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona (Barcelona international Jazz Festival) embraces all from bebop to gospel.
Jazz greats such as Chick Corea, Bebo Valdés, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Caetano Veloso and Katie Melua have played here in the past.
Barcelona International Jazz Festival usually takes place in October.
LEM is a festival of experimental music and multi-media art. Lasting over a month, it takes place in the hip Gràcia district in October. Its line up is predominantly electronica but you can also hear some jazz and rock, and it is generally free to attend the concerts.