Barcelona is a city where there is always something to do. A variety of events, sports, monuments and entertainment offer visitors a wide selection of activities to choose from. Depending on the time of year, visitors can also participate in one of the many celebrations held by the city annually.
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Sant Jordi’s day is one of the most popular celebrations in Catalonia. On this day men present women with flowers and women give them books in return. Sant Jordi (Saint George) is Catalonia’s patron saint. Legend says that Sant Jordi traveled great lengths to save a princess from being eaten by a vicious dragon. He slew the dragon with his sword and on the ground where the beast’s blood was spilled grew a magnificent rose bush with luscious red roses.
The book-offering part of this tradition began due to the date that was chosen to celebrate Sant Jordi’s day, on April 23rd, William Shakespeare’s and Miguel Cervantes’ birthday and World Book Day.
The Feast of Sant Joan celebrates the start of Summer. It is referred to by many locals as “The night of Fire”, celebrated from 23 to 24 of June, when the sky is lit up by fireworks and firecrackers pop all over the place. Great masses of people gather on the beach to watch the fireworks display, have a drink and dance together.
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From August on, several neighborhoods in Barcelona celebrate their own Festa Major. During this week-long festival, the neighborhood’s streets are transformed, each one being decorated with a different colorful theme, competing for the prize of best decoration. Visitors can enjoy sweet and salty treats at one of the various booths on the streets, and enjoy concerts and shows that happen all day long. The most popular of the fiestas is Festa Major de Gràcia.
Celebrated on the 24th of September, La Mercè is an annual festival with religious origins, celebrating Mare de Déu de la Mercé, patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona. The event was created during the Middle Ages, when the population asked the Virgin’s help to fight a plague of locusts.
Today La Mercè refers not only to the 24th of September, but the days that precede it, which are filled with activities. There are parades that feature paper maché giants, the gegantets, correfocs, a parade that features a pyrotechnic display, the dance of the Sardana, concerts and the castellers, human towers.