Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, international city with many ethnic communities. In the last decade the Chinese population has increased dramatically, bringing many new restaurants, festivals, shops and welcome new faces to a city that has always thrived on immigration.

The Chinese calendar is significantly different to Europe’s, and Chinese New Year, this year the year of the Goat, begins on February the 19th. The Year of the Goat is a year in which Chinese custom emphasises families reuniting and reconciling any difficulties.

This year you can join in the New Year festivities of the Chinese New Year at the wonderful Chinese Lantern Festival taking place in the Parc del Fòrum. The Lantern Festival has been a part of Chinese New Year since the first century AD (western calendar).

Here it is given a modern twist, with some 500 illuminated figures occupying an area of 9,000 square metres, and divided into eight thematic areas. These areas blend of Chinese and Catalan culture in a unique way, with these including traditional Chinese culture and tradition, Oriental lanterns, Catalan Art Nouveau, the seasons, the Nativity story, and Gaudí, Miró and Picasso and their cultural legacy in Catalunya.

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A Catalan correfoc is a stunning visual extravaganza. The name translates as “fire run” so as the name suggests, health and safety are not on the menu, medieval style pyrotechnics are. Basically a street level, hand-held firework display, the correfoc offers convincing evidence that Spain is not a nanny state. In a correfoc, participants dress up as devils and light fireworks, dance to the loud and raucous drumming provided by a traditional gralla, and run amok among the crowds of spectators with sparks flying! Dressed in red and black, wearing horns and masks, ‘colles de diables’ (groups of ‘devils’) dance amongst the crowds accompanied by loud music, waving sparklers, firecrackers, and roman candles, spitting fire into the crowd.

Some major correfocs are run during the Festival of La Mercè and Sant Antoni in Barcelona and the Festival of Santa Tecla in Tarragona. In Sitges, a crowd lines the street while participants run through a tunnel of fireworks – not for the fainthearted.

This is the classic formula of a correfoc though they can come in the more sedate form of a simple parade using fireworks and effigies of the devil.
The origins of a correfoc clearly lie in the medieval Catalunya (witnessed also in their existence in the Balearic Islands which at the time were under the control of the courts of Barcelona). The festival represents the fight of good against evil and originates in a form of medieval street theatre called ‘Ball de Diables’.

Another fine example of a correfoc takes place in L’Arboç in the province of Tarragona where the highlight of the village’s festival is the Carretillada, in which the town square is made to look like hell and ‘devils’ burn their carretilles (carts), jumping around while a large ‘sceptre of Lucifer’ and ‘pitchfork of the Diablessa (she-devil)’ spouts jets of fire and other pyrotechnics.

So long as you wear suitable protective clothing and some goggles then there is no reason why you should not participate in a correfoc during your visit to Barcelona and Catalunya.

Posted in Areas - The Eixample, Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Barcelona nightlife, Carnival time in Barcelona, Catalan traditions and culture, Fiestas in Barcelona, la merce, La Mercè Barcelona | Leave a comment

Festa Major de Sant Antoni 2015

If you are coming to Barcelona experiencing a case of the January blues, be prepared to shake them off at the Festa Major de Sant Antoni.

Sant Antoni is a cosmopolitan neighbourhood nestled between the raval on the edge of the old town, the Raval the Eixample. Its focus is the beautiful art nouveau Sant Antoni Market.

From January 17th, a 10-day festival fills the trendy Eixample barrio with correfocs, geants, concerts, competitions, workshops, exhibitions, and many more festivities to shake off the lethargy of winter. So get ready to party and enjoy some Catalan style festivities!

Posted in Areas - The Eixample, Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Catalan traditions and culture, Fiestas in Barcelona, shows and concerts in Barcelona | Leave a comment

New Flagship Stores in Barcelona

As you may well notice when you visit Barcelona, it is fast becoming a city of “flagship stores” for large brands and for fashion chains. Brands are attracted by the many tourists who the visit the city, as well as by Barcelona’s cosmopolitan image. The area around Plaza Catalalunya and Passeig de Gracia is the most desired retail spot in the city, and this is where the cities first Mac store was opened in 2013.

One of the next flagship stores to open will be the expansion of the Zara store located at the corner of Gran Vía and Passieg de Gracia in Barcelona. With over 5,000 square meters of retails space this will become one of the largest Zara stores in the world. Zara belongs to Spanish textile giant Inditex, who also run Mango, and Mango will soon open its biggest store in Spain on Las Ramblas.

In Plaza Catalunya, the Catalan fashion brand Desigual has recently opened its largest store in the world, with a floor space of 2,000 square meters, which is planned to be further extended in 2016 to be bigger still.

This year, H & M will open its largest store in Spain, again on Passieg de Gracia, close to where Levis will soon open as well.

The list goes on! The arrival of flagship stores in Barcelona is great news for the city. While Barcelona already boasts many small local one-off boutique stores, up until now these have not been matched by the presence of large international chains.

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Gran Gala Española 2015

Gran Gala Española captures the essence of Andalucia. From classical to flamenco, all the traditional sounds of southern Spain are represented in this classic guitar show.

Enjoy the sounds of such classics as El Amor Brujo, La vida Breve and El Sombrero de Tres Picos de Falla, Aires Gitanos and Zapateado de Sarasate, Carmen de Bizet, Asturias, Granada y Sevilla de Albéniz, Danza Andaluza de Granados, Serenata Española de Malats.

The show´s mastermind is guitar legend Rolando Saad, and the performance captures and conveys the joyful spirit of these songs. Gran Gala Española is written for the for guitar and the symphony orchestra, and includes a dancer, singer and ballet!

Enjoy the sounds of the south in Barcelona! The Gran Gala Española takes place at the Palua de la Musica on January the 14th 2015 from 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM. Find out more here.

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Sílvia Pérez Cruz + Raül Fernández Miró

Silvia Pérez Cruz has one of the freshest musical talents to have come out of Catalonia in recent times. Renowned for her impressive voice, Pérez Cruz was she was raised on pop music and educated at Barcelona College of Music where she studied classical music and founded a flamenco group. Her style incorporates jazz, flamenco and even Portuguese Fado, and later flamenco. Péres Cruz sings in English French, German and Spanish as well as her native Catalan.

Fernández Miró is a longtime collaborator of Pérez Cruz. The duo recently released the album ‘Granada’ recorded with nothing but their voices and acoustic guitars. The result is an intimate and soft sounding album featuring cover versions that the pair have made their own, including the famous Catalan song ‘El Cant del Ocell’.

Expect to hear live sounds their new album as well as some classics at the Casino de l’Aliança del Poblenou in Barcelona this weekend ( Tickets are 26 euros.

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Eva Fernandez and The Original Jazz Orchestra

For a big band version of classic carols, checkout the Jamboree Jazz club on the 28th of December where singer and saxophonist Eva Fernandez will be joined by The Original Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of David Pastor.

Eva Fernández is an up and coming young Catalan jazz musician, a talented saxophonist, clarinettist and singer who in a very short space of time has become a key player on the Spanish and international jazz scene.

Jazz is a popular style of music in Catalunya, with a number of excellent youth jazz groups nurtuting talents such as Eva Fernandez, who rose to fame via the Sant Andreu Jazz Band under the tuition of Joan Chamorro.

EvaFernandez has performed with great figures such as Perico Sambeat, Dick Oatts, Ken Peplowski, Ignasi Terraza, Bobby Gordon, Jesse Davis, Terell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, Josep M. Farràs, Scott Robinson, Josep Traver, Matthew Simon, Llibert Foruny, Carles Benavent and Jordi Bonell.

Tickets cost 10 euros online and 12 euros at the door. Click here for more information.

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Aracaladanza – Pequeños Paraisos

If you are looking for ways to entertain your small ones this Christmas in Barcelona, contemporary children’s dance company Aracaladanza, is performing “Pequeños Paraisos”, a spectacular children’s performance.

Pequeños Paraísos is based on Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, which coincidentally has been on display at the Caixa Forum in Barcelona this year, and is the first in a trilogy. The show is full of light and wonder, and promises to bring out the child in all of us, no matter what age we might be.

Aracaladanza hails from Madrid and is described by its owner, Enrique Cabrera as follows: “Aracaladanza invites you to dream little sips of happiness with which we hope you enjoy fleeting moments of joy”. The company have performed in theatres across Europe, Africa and Asia.

Performances run from the 26th to the 30th at the Mercat dels Flors, see the event website for more information.

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Joaquin Sabina at the Palau de La Musica in Barcelona

Singer, songwriter, and poet Joaquin Sabina is an icon of Iconic Spanish music. Tomorrow he returns to the stage in Barcelona at the Palau de La Musica, after a long five year break from touring; his much anticipated return is timed to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of one of his critically acclaimed ’19 Dias y 500 Noches’. Sabina will only perform two dates in Spain on this tour, which is actually an extension of his sold-out tour in South America.

Sabina suffered from a serious stroke in 2001, and although he was able to make a full physical recovery, he entered a deep depression which resulted in a four year break from his work. In 2012 he released ‘La Orquesta Del Titanic’ album in collaboration with Joan Manuel Serrat.

Doors open at 9pm, Tuesday the 23rd of December 2014.

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Boulevard Sou d’Art at the Casa Batllo

High end fashion, design and gastronomy come together at Boulevard Sou d’Art in the Casa Batllo on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona. This Christmas the iconic art nouveau building by Antoni Gaudí will open its doors once again, to celebrate the fourth edition of Sou Boulevard d’Art.

This is an event offering shoppers an alternative to Christmas shopping on the high street and will be open to all on the 20th and 21st of December from 11.30 to 22.30.

Sou Boulevard d’Art is effectively a designer Christmas market promoting emerging creative presences in the fields of design, fashion and decoration. Attendance has grown steadily and it is fast becoming a fixture of Christmas in Barcelona for local residents and tourists alike. If you are after interesting and unique Christmas gifts for your loved ones then Sou Boulevard should not be missed.

This weekend more than 70 firms will be offering their Christmas gift suggestions. Highlights include brands such as Uia Design, The Chorum, Depelea, Gemma López Barcelona, Rosa Tejada Joies, Pallerols or Uniqbrow. The experience will be further enriched with good music, exhibitions and workshops for children.

Posted in Activities - Winter, Areas - The Eixample, Barcelona for Children, Barcelona Gastronomy, Christmas and new year Barcelona, Exhibitions in Barcelona, Gaudi architecture | Leave a comment