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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The Tapas Route in Poble Sec

Where? Bars throughout Poble Sec
When? Thursday from 5/9 to 26/12/2013, 19 -11pm (except Barramon to 10pm) .
How much? €2 tapa or pintxo + beer or wine.

Here is a great way to eat some tapas on the cheap! The “ruta de tapas” (tapas route) through Poble Sec neighbourhood takes place each Thursday from 7 to 11pm. In all 19 bars are participating (so best to arrive hungry) and the idea is that each bar offers a tapa and a drink for just 2 euros. A real bargain and a great way to explore this vibrant neighbourhood with a village feel and pedestrian streets, just ten minutes from Las Ramblas.

Participating bars are also devoting 10% of the proceeds on the first Thursday of each month to the Bona Acció charity, who work to achieve social and professional integration for Poble Sec residents with limited resources.

Map of bars of the Route :

Participating bars include:

Bairoletto : C / Roser 82 .
Bar Sunday: C / Blasco de Garay 15.
Bar Dry: Montjuic Pg 74 .
Bar Tribal: C / Blai 29.
Barramon : C / Blai 28. – The Solea : Sortidor Square 14.
Bodega Jumped : C / Blesa 36 .
Darling : C / Blesa 34 .
The Waterhole : Vilà i vilà , 79.
Chewing Gum : França Xica 20 .
The Jerk : C / Blai 33 .
The Ruffian : C / Nou de la Rambla 123.
The trenta36sis : C / Margarit 36 .
It Xibiu : C / Blai 48 .
Jon Mai : Plaça del Sortidor 15.
Koska Taverna: C / Blai 8 .
The federica : Salvà , 3 .
L’ Angolino : Blai , 15
The Boot : C / Fontrodona 23.
Taberna La Boheme: C / Blai 65 .
Tiel • the i Llibertat : C / Blai 35 .

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Ice Barcelona – Skating in Plaça Catalunya

For the third year running now, Barcelona is currently enjoying its very own ice skating rink in Plaça Catalunya. Bringing merriment, and a touch of northern winters to sunnier climes, the ice rink was officially opened on Thursday the 21st of November at 17h at an event chaired by Xavier Trias, Mayor of Barcelona, and Vincent Gasca President of the Foundation in Barcelona Commerce. It stays open until the beginning of January 2014.

At 40m by 30m (1200 m2) this is the biggest outdoor ice rink in Europe, large enough to take for 350 skaters. Throughout is opening, exhibitions of different sports played on ice and introductory courses in some of them have been scheduled.

Calendar of activities:

- Skating show: 27th of November and 2nd, 4th, 9th, 11th and 16th of December and the 3rd of January at 6pm.
- Ice Hockey show: 23rd, 27th and 30th of December at 6pm
- Short track show: 19th and 28th of December at 6pm

Courses for children (9 to 10am):

* Short Track: 21st and 28th of December
* Skating: 22 and 29th of December, 3rd and 4th of January
* Ice Hockey: 23rd, 27th and 30th of December
* Curling: 2nd of January 2014

Plaça Catalunya is Barcelona’s main square, so ice skating can be combined with many other activities. Nearby are Las Ramblas, the old town, the Boqueria market, Passeig de Gracia and El Portal Del Angel for shopping, the Cathedral La Seu and the Christmas market.

The ticket price includes skate rental and is €9 per hour or €7 for 30 minutes, and there are changing areas and a cafeteria. This is a great Christmas activity to enjoy in Barcelona, especially for families.

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