La Castanyada 2017 in Barcelona, The Chestnut Festival

La Castanyada 2017 is here! La Castanyada is a custom of eating roasted chestnuts and panellets (traditional Catalan sweets) during the 1st and 2nd of November.

This is a custom held deep in the hearts of Catalans since we are children. We observe this day in school years, not falling foul to the Halloween pageant and its pumpkin lanterns.  This tradition has been going for much longer and is hosted by the Castanyera – a kind of mythical good lady witch – who would sit behind her charcoal fire roasting chestnuts for everybody in her peasant rags.  Some of the traditions have also been borrowed from traditional funeral offerings that have long been forgotten in the passage of time.

Eat Roasted Chestnuts in La Castanyada 2017

La Castanyada 2017 is the survival of those traditions in a more modern form that pays homage to all of the Catalan Saints (1st November) and the Day of the Dead (2nd November).

La Castanyada 2017

The first day of La Castanyada would begin with the churches beginning a non-stop ringing of bells to warn the citizens on the arrival of the time to pray for their deceased.  The chestnuts are said to have been roasted for the bell-ringers who would be working all day, and that the chestnuts and sweet pieces were to replenish their strength and stave off the cold while they took turns to rest.

According to some sources, the tradition became more widespread across Catalunya and other regions of Spain and Portugal during the Eighteenth Century.  So if you are visiting Barcelona during this time, La Castanyada 2017 will be right on your doorstep, as virtually every street corner in the city will host a stall roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes (moniato) for you to buy and eat right away in hot portions.

Try the Delicious Panellets in La Castanyada 2017

The best ones are almond-flavoured, candied fruit that are coated in pine nuts and are a typical meal for the La Castanyada 2017 celebration.  The origins of this part of the tradition are somewhat lost in history, but some ideas hint that this custom is linked to the blessing of loaves, which were deposited as an offering to family tombs in honour of the memory of the ancestors and also as food in their journey to the beyond.

Eat panallets in La Castanyada 2017

La Castanyada 2017 with all its beautiful tasting chestnuts and sweets is actually a communion celebration to worship deceased relatives.  Traditionally, while there will be many roasted chestnut vendors on the streets, it is not really a street-style festival.  It’s actually a very private moment for the Catalan family as they spend time together and pay respect to their lost ones.  In fact during La Castanyada, families would normally go to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of their deceased family members and then spend the rest of the day at home, together.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be things going on the city.  Barcelona is one of the most vibrant places in Europe.  If you are looking to stay here during this time, or anytime even, we have a fantastic choice of holiday rental apartments to ensure that your trip is pleasant and comfortable.  Check our selection here.

Barcelona Day Trips – a day out in Sitges

f you spend 4 or 5 days in Barcelona you can also plan several Barcelona day trips that you will love, for example a day out in Sitges.

Located just a short way outside Barcelona, to the west and taking a 40-minute journey on the local rail service either from Franca, Sants or Passeig de Gràcia rail stations, is the romantic and historic village of Sitges, a perfect destination for any Barcelona day trip.

This Barcelona day trip couldn’t be easier to do.  It will cost approximately €9 Euro (day return) on the train, usually 4 every hour, dropping visitors off at one of the most beautiful and fabled villages situated on the Catalunya’s Costa Dorada.  Simply alight and stroll into the town from Sitges rail station, the stunning beaches are not too far away. There is so much history here, so where do you start?

Foremost, Sitges is famous as a party town.  The first ever Pacha nightclub in the world – created 10 years before Ibiza – was founded here.  But let’s not forget it’s annual Carnaval – one of the biggest in the world – its frequent fiestas, major film festival or the Corpus Christi.

Going even further back in time, the Romans occupied the village and it was a major point of trade and festival.  In fact, according to the Museu de Sitges, “since ancient times, the site of Sitges has been associated with a small Roman town mentioned in classical sources called Subur.”  Basically after the centurions were paid in salt (from Las Salinas in Ibiza) they took a short cruise to Sitges to spend their wages in true soldier fashion.

Pretty much, this is still what happens today, and Sitges now occupies an even more special place on the global map – the pink map to be precise.  Best described as poly-sexual, Sitges is probably the world’s number one destination for the LGBT community.

The most famous street is Carrer del Pecat (Sin Street) as it is known here.  Its real name is Carrer Primer de Maig de 1838, and it is here where artists such as Dali and Picasso used to meet and hang out in their younger years during the 1960’s.

At the bottom of Carrer del Pecat is the beach, one of 17.  This one is called playa de la Ribera and home to El Chiringuito… quite literally the first ever chiringuito built in Spain.  Turn to the right and walk up the beachfront a little way and you will come to a fine beachfront restaurant called Pic Nic.  Perfect for a fresh fish lunch and to pick at some tapas specialties.  Pulpo Gallega, sepia, patatas bravas and fresh bread with tomàquet are always on the menu and this selection of dishes should cost about €25 per person.

After the sustenance, the energy kicks in!  Use your time wisely on this Barcelona day trip and see some of the sights.  Follow the path down to the bottom of the church and the old town.  Take the steps up to the old quarter and you will find the magnificent church – dedicated to the town’s patron saints, Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla, or drop into the recently refurbished Cau Ferrat Museum.

A suggested route for this day trip is to follow in footsteps of Sitges’ fanciful fore father, Modernist artist and most beloved Santiago Rusiñol.  Enjoy a healthy stroll high above Playa Sant Sebastian to marvel at the graveyard and viewpoint that looks down to Port Aiguadolce.

The rest of my day maybe spent sampling the artisanal wares of the many shops that Sitges has hidden down its back streets, with each and every one unashamedly paying homage to Sitges’ mix of maritime and melancholic glamour.  Check out the numerous interior design, curiosity and antique shops, carelessly scattered between the village’s many cobbled streets.

Before you end your Barcelona day trip and make your back to the city, stop to ‘whet your whistle’ at the locals favourite watering hole, El Cable, on Carrer Barcelona with Carrer Santiago Rusiñol.  The libations here are almost as famous as the town’s fearsome film festival.

Whatever your thoughts are on this historic hideaway during your Barcelona day trip, one thing’s for certain – you’ll be sure to wave it goodbye, many times again.  For your stay in Barcelona, please do visit our page to see a great selection of fine apartments.

One day in Montjuïc – Barcelona Travel Guide

One day in Montjuïc is time well spent if you have a few days to visit Barcelona.  There are many attractions on this historic site, including its castle sitting just over 180m above the city.
The castle served as the main protection for the old city harbour since circa 1640.  Apart from the castle, most of the other attractions in this area were created for Barcelona’s International Exposition in 1929 with more buildings added for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, including the main stadium.  2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Games.

Joan Miró Foundation (Museu Miró) – One day in Montjuïc

This space was completed in 1975 and was commissioned by Joan Miró i Ferrà, a Surrealist painter, sculptor and ceramicist from Barcelona who won international acclaim for his works.  He was originally a student of business, but after a nervous breakdown, he turned to being an artist and was one of the leaders of the Catalan Fauvist Period.  He wanted to create a space to encourage younger artists to create modern art – Espai 13.  A good way to get to the Miró is by using the Montjuïc Funicular Railway, which leaves from Paral.lel Metro station.

Poble Espanyol – One day in Montjuïc 

The complex is an array of 117 buildings themed on the “Spanish Town” and the whole area is classed as a museum that pays homage to the whole country’s architecture. It was due to be demolished after the great 1929 exposition, but after its success, the city decided to preserve it.  Poble Espanyol is a magical area of Montjuïc, where you can switch between the different styles of Spain’s rich heritage of construction design.  There are also exhibitions of craft, contemporary art and shops with gourmet products, concert venues, theatres and activities for children.  It is a maze of small streets and squares, with the grand entrance Porta d’Àvila, located just a short walk above the Montjuïc Fountains

Palau Sant Jordi – One day in Montjuïc

Completed in 1990, this was the indoor arena for Barcelona’s Olympic Games.  It is still used today for sports events and concerts, such as basketball, indoor tennis, swimming and indoor athletics.  It can comfortably fit 18,000 spectators for most events depending on use of the giant floor space.

Open air Greek Amphitheatre (Teatre Grec) – One day in Montjuïc 

This is a stunning recreation of a traditional Greek-style theatre, nestled in the woods on Montjuïc. It opened for performances during the 1929 exposition and hosts performances and shows during the summer months.  It is a major component of the city’s annual Greek Festival, but you may visit it outside of these months.

National Art Museum of Catalunya (MNAC) – One day in Montjuïc 

This is located in the National Palace, just above the fountains and Plaça Espanya, which was built for the 1929 exposition.  It is an Italian-styled design and has some the finest displays of Romanesque and Gothic art collections in the world.  Everybody can experience their favorite art here, as the museum exhibits historic pieces of Catalan sculpture, portraits, mural paintings, carvings and metalworks. There is also a modern art collection and a photography display.

Montjuïc really has a lot going on with a wonderful mix of must-see attractions both old and new.  To really enjoy your stay more in Barcelona why not rent an apartment?  We have an excellent choice of apartments all over the city to suit your needs.