Mutek 2014

Mutek is one of those international festivals that were just made for Barcelona. This incredibly hip international festival is a combined celebration of sound, music and visual art.

So no surprise that it sets up shop for its fifth edition in Barcelona this March from the 5th to the 8th, when another prestigious roster of International artists will play cutting-edge electronic nightly sets in four different clubs throughout the city.

While in recent years festivals have become big business, MUTEK bucks this trend, as it is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate is to provide a platform for the most original and visionary artists currently working in their fields, with a stated objective to build bridges between creativity and technology and thus support innovation in new electronic music and digital art.  The “MU” in Mutek refers to “mutation”, reflecting that music and technology are constantly evolving and changing.

Mutek was born in Montreal in 2000 and has grown to other hip cities, namely Mexico City, and of course Barcelona. The event grows apace, this year Mutek has set up its first electronic music event in China.

The 2014 Barcelona edition will host a variety of acts, from the UK (Andy Stott), Spain (Brunetto), the USA (Laurel Halo), Germany (Marcel Dettman) and France (1024 Architecture). Look out for performances at L’Institut Francais, Moog Club, Nitsa and Teatre Coliseum.

Tickets are available as daily passes starting from €5-€10 to€60 for all four nights.

Go to the Mutek website


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A guide to Sarrià-Sant Gervasi

Here we are going to take a look at one of Barcelona’s less known districts, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. Most visitors to Barcelona visit the Gothic Old Town with Las Ramblas and the old port, or the Eixample and Gaudi’s famous modernista architecture. The first written document found about Sarrià dates from the year 987, and the origins of the village are a Roman colony. The old Monestir de Pedralbes belonged to the village of Sarrià and is now home to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is one of the biggest districts of Barcelona and situated on the north-west of the city, and surrounded by the city districts of Les Corts, Gràcia, Eixample i Horta-Guinardo, and by the villages of Sant Just, Sant Feliu, Molins de Rei and Sant Cugat. As you fly over Barcelona on your approach to the city (usually over the coast) you will notice Sarrià-Sant Gervasi perched on the edge of the mountains at the back of the city.

Due to its location at the back of the city on the higher ground, many people tend to pass by Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. However this is an interesting district with much to see, offering fantastic views over Barcelona. This is a very laid back part of town. Its character is primarily residential and very wealthy. The air here is much cleaner as it is higher up and above the pollution which clogs much of Barcelona.

The village of Sarrià was added to Barcelona in 1927 as the city expanded due to the industrial revolution, and luckily Sarrià still keeps its a village atmosphere, and its traditional narrow streets and small houses are perfectly preserved. The main street of Sarrià is Major de Sarrià and on Passeig Reina Elisenda is the Mercat de Sarrià, the market being the heart of any Barcelona neighbourhood.

Sarrià also borders on the stunning Collserola national park, the lungs of the city. This extends from Collserola Mountain at the back of Barcelona all the way to Sant Cugat. It is a wonderful place to explore on foot or on mountain bike and you would never know Barcelona city centre was only 20 minutes away.

Close by also is Tibidabo. The spires of the Temple de Sagrat Cor church on Tibidabo can seen from any point of the city. Right next to the church is an amusement park, the oldest in Barcelona and some of the original rides date to the turn of the 20th century. Part of the Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, was filmed here.


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Festa de Sant Medir 2014

On the third of march a wonderful event in Barcelona for families with sweet-toothed children takes place in Barcelona, Sant Medir 2014. Also known by the name of the Fiesta de San Emeterio, this annual festival takes place in March in the Gracia area of Barcelona. A third name by which it is known is “la festa més dolça” which is Catalan for “the sweetest festival”. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand this, as some 60 tons of sweets that are given away every year during the parade. An added attraction is the 120 horses taking part in the highly colourful parade.

The route of the parade is easily accessed as it runs through the heart of the city. Some 26 parade groups (called colles) gather throughout the “Vila de Gracia” area, part of Gracia, and then congregate on Carrer de Sant Salvador to form a procession of horses, carts and lorries that then parade down the street Gran de Gracia to finish at the “Jardinets de Gracia” – the little Grácia gardens. The evening finishes with a fireworks. Find parade information links further down this page.

The flamboyant Festa de Sant Medir has humbles origins. It all started back in 1830 when baker Josep Vidal i Granés fell very ill. Though he lived on newly opened Gran de Gracia street he was originally from Sant Cugat del Vallès and he vowed that if God cured him, he would make a annual pilgrimage to the chapel of Sant Medir there.

Well he did get better and being a man of faith, he made the first pilgrimage from Gracia. To spread the word he banged a drum and handed out sweets from his bakery to local children. The following year word grew, and with each successive year that passed, more and more friends and neighbours joined in. Eventually this led to the establishment of the first “colla” of the Sant Medir festival (a “colla” is the Catalan name for a group or club).


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Music in Barcelona Spring 2014

This spring some famous names in the world of music are playing in Barcelona, with something for all musical tastes. First up we have the Backstreet Boys (Sant Jordi Club, February the 20th). Beyonce also plays at the Sant Jordi club shortly afterwards on the 24th of March, followed by Franz Ferdinand (Sant Jordi Club, April the 5th), then Katie Melua (Sant Jordi Club, April the 17th).

Spring is of course festival season as well. Each spring we in Barcelona are lucky enough to experience the Primavera Sound Festival , this year Primavera Sound lands the Forum from May the 29th to May the 31st and the line up will include names such as Nine Inch Nails, The Pixies, DJ Zero and Julian Cope.

Hot on the heals of one global music festival comes another, the Sónar Festival (June 12-14) where Massive Attack, Richie Hawtin and Four Tet will be playing.

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Take the Camp Nou Tour

A visit to the Camp Nou is a must for soccer fans coming to Barcelona. But even if you are not soccer mad, FC Barça is such an integral part of the cities identity that a visit to the Camp Nou is still a great way to get to know the city better by learning more about the club and its history.

Located in the Les Corts district, the Camp Nou is easily reached on the metro line L3 (green) from any of the following stops: Les Corts, Maria Cristina, Palau Reial or Zona Universitària.

Often incorrectly referred to in English as The Nou Camp, the Camp Nou’s name literally means ‘new field’. The stadium has been the official home of Futbol Club Barcelona since its inauguration in1957. The stadium replaced Barcelona’s previous ground Camp de les Corts, which, though it could hold 60,000 supporters, was still too small for the growing support of the club.

The Camp Nou can seat up to 99,786, making it the largest stadium in Europe and the 11th largest in the world in terms of capacity. As well as being the home turf of FB Barcelona, arguably one of the greatest football teams of all time, it has hosted two UEFA Champions League finals and the football competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Some highlights of the “Camp Nou Experience” include the Interactive Museum, describing the clubs fascinating history since it was established in 1899, and the Stadium Tour, where the walk in the footsteps of Messi through the players changing room, the tunnel and even out onto the hallowed turf. Sit in the players benches, venture into the VIP lounge and enjoy the press area where Guardiola gave so many happy interviews.

The admission price for the Camp Nou Experience is 23 euros for adults and 17 adults for children. Opening hours are 02 April – 07 October: 10:00 – 20:00; 08 October – 01 April: 10:00 – 18:30; Sundays and holidays: 10:00 – 14:30.

This is a popular tour so if you want to avoid a long wait you can buy your “Skip the Line” Camp Nou Experience tickets online and pick up your tickets Once you have picked up your tickets from Calle Balmes 5, 08007 Barcelona, you can make your way to the stadium at any time when the stadium tour operates.Remember to bring along the voucher printout, photographic identification for example your passport and the person that actually purchased the Barcelona FC tour tickets online.

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What happens on Christmas day in Catalonia?

Following on from our last post ion Christmas Eve in Catalonia, here we talk about the 25th. In Catalonia and the rest of Spain the 25th of December has not traditionally been the main celebration at Christmas. Instead the main emphasis has been the celebration of the Three Kings on the 7th of January. However in recent years Santa Claus has made his entrance and families now often have a small Christmas tree and place small gifts underneath for their children. Larger presents are still provided by the Three Kings on the 7th.

Christmas Day in Spain is devoted to eating, though there are few set rules as to what is eaten on Christmas day. Roast meat is often a popular choice. Tables are spread with various tapas, which may include dishes such as asparagus, jamon, fuet, bread rubbed with tomato, seafood and nice salads.

One thing you will notice on Christmas Day here is that bars and restaurants, as well as many small shops, all remain open. This is a more relaxed affair than Christmas in other countries and more of a normal day.

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What happens on Christmas Eve in Catalonia?

If you are in town for Christmas you may wonder what the locals are up to. The answer is eating and drinking! Christmas Eve is a very important part of the seasonal festivities, and is when Catalan people enjoy one of the most lavish meals of the Christmas period.

Just like in other countries, many traditional foods are eaten at this dinner. Be sure to look out for these on menus throughout Catalunya at Christmas too.
A traditional Christmas eve dinner begins with Carn d’Olla for a starter, a soup made with a large piece of meat that has been slow cooked for hours to create a rich stock before the meat is removed and large pieces of pasta that look like snail shells called Galets are added. The result is an incredibly rich and satisfying soup.

For the main course the meat that was removed from the soup is then eaten. In many households this is eaten alongside a variety of special tapas dishes such as shellfish such as langoustines or clams, jamon or other charcuterie. These are typically luxury and expensive foods.

For dessert a traditional is nougat with almonds called turron is very popular. Sweets made from almond paste called polvorones are also popular. After the sweet treats, it is traditional to go out and meet other families and wish them a Happy Christmas. Everybody usually drinks lots of Cava, sings Christmas carols (Billancicos) and generally make merry!

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New Years Eve party in Barcelona 2013

Barcelona wants to become a city that is famous for its New Years Eve celebrations. This year Barcelona is planning an all out New Years Eve extravaganza in a bid to project the city’s image globally and put on the kind of show cities such as Sydney and New York are famous for.

Montjuic Fountains (between Plaça Espanya and Monjuic itself) and Avenida Maria Cristina will be used for the opening ceremonies. Barcelona Tourism are responsible for organising the proceedings, with the support of the Fira de Barcelona, The Chamber of Commerce, The Hotels Association and Movistar Telecoms.

Artistic and technical direction will be provided by La Fura dels Baus who have designed a stunning visual display and fireworks show with an unusual star, the ‘Millennium Being’, a 15 metre tall figure representing “the spirit of the city” which Barcelona used to welcome in the year 2000. In total the budget for the event is 400,000 euros, a significant investment given the economic climate.

To welcome in 2014 , two large screens will be placed on either side of Avenida Maria Cristina, both projecting the image of a clock will be responsible for playing the clock chimes at midnight, but with a special touch according to the artistic director of The Fura dels Baus , Carles Padrissa. At midnight, a series of “volcanos of fire” will explode consecutively, culminating with the sound of the bell and a large explosion behind the magic fountains.

The Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias has stated that his goal is an inclusive and family friendly event. No alcoholic drinks will be sold nor will any music be played after the show, which will start at 23.30 and end at 12.15 hours. “I think it will be a great success for the future of our city” says Trias, who also noted that the Barcelona New Year Party will become an ongoing fixture in the cities calendar.

The Catalan capital also wants to break into the international TV coverage of New Years Eve, such as is seen in cities like Sydney, London, New York or Berlin. President of Tourism Barcelona, Joan Gaspart, has clearly stated his intentions “we want the city more known in the world and this event will provide invaluable promotion”.

If you are in Barcelona for New Years Eve do not miss out. Or if you are looking for a plan still, look no further. Check out our great range of apartments in Barcelona for your accommodation.

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The Christmas lights in Barcelona are officially on!

On Friday the 22nd of November, Barcelona’s Mayor officially switched on the Christmas lights and entered into the festive season.
True to Catalan form, things got going in style outside the Sagrada Familia with a gospel choir and Castellers with the nativity façade illuminated in the background. The Christmas lights in Barcelona are now on until the 6th of January.

Proceedings continued within the Sagrada Familia district on nearby Avinguda Gaudi, where Barcelona’s Mayor Xavier Trias presided over switching on a staggering 85km of lights, marking the beginning of the holiday season. Trias noted the importance of the Christmas lights to create happiness even in difficult times of difficulty, referring to the recession.

This year a number of stunning new lighting designs have being created. These can be seen in Passeig de Gràcia, the arc light son Calle Aragó and Gran Vía, and on Calle Balmes sinuous arcs in the shape of a snake wind their way up the street.

The lighting budget this year amounts to two million euros, of which 1.16 million have been provided by the city council and the rest has come from the local business community. Last year Barcelona made an innovative and cost cutting decision to use LED lights, which has never been done on this scale before, and which was repeated this year. As the Mayor highlighted in his opening speech, the Christmas lights in Barcelona are a very important project for the city.

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World Press Photo 13 Face Reality

World Press Photo 13, in its ninth international edition, takes place at the CCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona) from the 6th of November to the 18th of December 2013.

This year’s event ‘Face Reality’ event is co-organized by the CCCB itself and the Fundació Photographic Social Vision and is exhibiting 143 photographs which have won the prestigious prize of recognition by Wold Press Photos 2013.

Among this year’s winners are three Spaniards: Bernat Armangué, Emilio Morenatti and Daniel Ochoa de Olza.

These three were selected from no less than 5,666 photographers of 124 nationalities, who submitted 103,481 images in eight categories, including: General News, Spot News, Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Observed Portraits, Staged Portraits, Nature and Sport.

The CCCB is also showing award winning works in the multimedia projects category, in which there are two Spanish winners this year.

This is a fascinating exhibition and should not be missed. As the website of the CCB states:

“´Face Reality’, the title of the presentation of WPP in Barcelona, invites visitors to witness the state of the world, free of censorship or manipulation, bringing us face to face with global and local reality that invites reflection and expands our viewpoints. As every year, the prize-winning images inform, delight and challenge, making World Press Photo a must for anyone who wants to be informed.”

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