First Dip of the Year in Barcelona

What better way to welcome in the New Year than a bracing dip in the Mediterranean? Since 1996, hundreds of bold bathers have flocked to Platja de Sant Sebastià for the first dip of the year (Primer Bany de l’Any). Why not join these brave souls on January 1st 2017 at midday as they charge into the sea, clad in only their swimming costumes and the occasional Santa hat?!

The event, organised by el Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta, is totally free and is a sure-fire way to rid your cobwebs from the night before! And, if the prospect of an icy dip is a little daunting, you can register at the club´s reception prior to the event for a hot shower afterwards. This is a brilliant affair and a far better alternative to a day spent hibernating under the duvet, cradling a packet of Alka-Seltzer to nurse your hangover.

Whilst not for the faint-hearted (medically speaking), proponents of icy dips claim that the health benefits are numerous. Swimming in cold water can help your immune system, improve libido and boost circulation. Some even claim to experience a natural high so surely that´s reason enough to tempt you!first-dip-of-the-year-in-barcelona

  • Join Europe´s Popular New Year´s Day Tradition

By taking part in Barcelona´s Primer Bany de l’Any, you’ll join the tradition of thousands of people who mark the start of the New Year with a dip in the sea, rivers or lakes and, with an average water temperature of 13 degrees in January, Barcelona provides a comparatively gentle winter bathing experience!

For over 30 years, bathers have braved the freezing waters off Barry Island (Wales) for a New Year´s Day swim and in Edinburgh (Scotland), locals take part in the Loony Dook –  an icy plunge into the River Forth where the water is decidedly chilly! Similarly, in Rzeszów (Poland) bathers refuse to be deterred by the bitingly cold waters year on year.

first-dip-of-the-year-in-barry-island

The Netherlands boasts over 60 locations for a New Year´s Day plunge, and insist there is no better way to start the year. With a whopping 25,000 participants each January, the Dutch are arguably the champions of this watery tradition. The largest scale event is the annual nieuwjaarsduik in Scheveningen which welcomes approximately 10,000 swimmers.

first-dip-of-the-year-in-the-netherlands

So, what are you waiting for?! Get 2020 off to a great start and make this January 1st a day to remember by heading to Barcelona for a New Year’s Day dip!

Christmas Bath in Barcelona

Things you cant miss at La Mercè 2019

For another year running, the streets of Barcelona will be filled with music, activities and events galore during the city’s biggest celebration of the year. From 20 to 24 of September, La Mercè will take over the city together with this year’s special international guest, the city of Beirut.

With over 500 things to do for the whole family, we’ve compiled this small guideto ensure you don’t miss out on a thing!

Diades Castelleres (Human Towers)

In the biggest events of the year on the castellers calendar, Plaça Sant Jaume plays host to these spectacular Catalan human towers.

In this 50 th anniversary of the Castellers of Barcelona, don’t miss the best groups of the city battling it out from noon on Sunday 22 and Tuesday 24 to see who makes it to the top.

Correfocs

Head to Via Laietana on Saturday 21 from 6:30 pm onwards and you’ll be greeted by giants and devils. Although it may sound like a fairytale, these are two Catalan traditions that are not to be missed.

Watch how these enormous giant-like figures are paraded through the city centre and let yourself be amazed at the jaw-dropping fire run in this fabulous display of colourful sparks.

Live music concerts

La Mercè is synonymous with music and this year is no exception. With three musical programmes underway – BAM (Barcelona Acció Musical) Mercè Música, y BAM Cultura Viva – there is sure to be something for everyone. From the old Estrella Damm factory, Plaça Catalunya and MACBA to various beach locations, there will be almost 100 open-air concerts for all to enjoy completely for free.

Museum open days

In addition to all the festivities and celebrations, many of Barcelona’s museums open to the public completely free of charge on Tuesday 24, the official day of La Mercè.

From the National Museum of Catalunya and the Castle of Montjuic to the CCCB Cultural Center and the Museum of Modern Art, be sure to snap up this unique chance to discover the history and culture of Barcelona.

Town hall mapping

In celebration of “Any Brossa” (the Year of Brossa), the façade of Barcelona’s town hall will come alive with art. Discover the creative world of this renowned Catalan poet, playwright and visual artist in a 3D projection from 20–24 September.

Cursa de La Mercè

Unlike other years, this annual race will be held after La Mercè celebrations. Grab your trainers and set out on this emblematic 10-km run around the city that starts on Avinguda de Maria Cristina. Sign up here

Piromusical

This traditional Piromusical show concludes the celebrations in a grand mix of music and fireworks. This year tribute will be paid to the Beatles, the Liceu Theatre and Glenn Miller. The event will also welcome typical music from Beirut as the guest city of La Mercè 2019. Don’t miss this free feast for the eyes and ears on 24 September at 9 pm, Avinguda de Maria Cristina.

What’s more, on Sunday 22, the city will respect the global “Car-free Day” with Via Laietana and Gran de Gràcia giving priority to cyclists and public transport. Join everyone in raising awareness about reducing pollution in the city.

See Barcelona in all its splendour and take part in the celebrations with locals and tourists alike. Check out the official programme here where you will find listings for the four days of the festival. And so you don’t miss any of the action, book with bizflats.com to find the ideal apartment for your stay.

Our Top 7 Tips to Celebrating the Festa Major de Gràcia in Barcelona

When you think of August in Barcelona, what comes to mind is sunbathing on sandy beaches, splashing around in the sea, taking a stroll down La Rambla with an ice-cream, and enjoying an ice-cold beer in one of the city’s shaded squares. 

It’s the quintessential Barcelona experience for which everyone comes. And yet, venture north of the city centre, and you might just stumble across something unique.

From 15–21 August, the neighbourhood of Gràcia celebrates its Festa Major. This week-long festival sees the streets of Gràcia come alive with decorations in every colour imaginable and events for all the family.

With concerts, workshops, cultural activities, food and drink stalls, here you’ll find locals and tourists alike celebrating this unmissable event of Catalan culture. Here are our top seven tips to ensure you are part of the festivities!

1. Marvel at the street decorations

If there’s one thing that sets this festival apart from other local festivals in Barcelona, it’s the unique street decorations.

Each street decides on a theme — ranging from historical periods, popular books and films to regions of the world — and competes for the annual prize. What’s more, all decorations are recycled from used materials: strips of plastic bags, cut-up plastic bottles, painted egg boxes and juice cartons, the result is a unique and sustainable work of art!

2. Catch a local concert

Every evening during the festival various streets host live concerts. From local groups, cover bands, karaoke and folk, there’s something for everyone to dance the night away into the early hours of the morning.

3. Stroll the streets during the day

Some might think the magic takes place only at night, but take a stroll around Gràcia during the day and you will discover the delights without the crowds. 

With the locals all recovering from the night before, it’s a perfect opportunity to get lost in this picturesque neighbourhood and snap some stunning photographs of the decorations.

4. Visit a war bunker

If you’d like to learn a bit more about the history of the neighbourhood, during the week of the festival you can take a guided visit to one of Gràcia’s 90 air-raid shelters, for only 3 euros per person.

Located in Plaça del Diamant, this shelter is one of the biggest of the city and harboured more than 200 people during the many air raids Barcelona was subject to during the Spanish Civil War.

5. Try drinks and food

Gràcia is the ideal place for browsing the local markets and trying homemade delicacies during the day or sipping mojitos at night.

Or if you fancy meeting some locals, why not grab a ticket for a street barbecue (botifarrada)? Here theyserve traditional Catalan sausage and other local dishes. Just fill your plate, pull up a chair, and practice your Catalan!

6. Immerse yourself in Catalan culture

In the heart of Gràcia is the square Plaça de la Vila where locals come together to do castellers and correfocs.

Perhaps not for the faint-hearted, let yourself be amazed by the human towers(castellers) and the fire dances with fireworks and dragons (correfocs).

7. Watch and dance!

Just like other regions, Catalonia is no exception when it comes to a traditional dance.

La Sardana is a humble dance performed hand in hand in a circle in representation of Catalan union. But that’s not all; the streets will be buzzing with batucada, swing, and much more!

If you’re looking for something different this summer in Barcelona where you can discover the city’s more traditional side, head to the Festa Major de Gràcia. Just like us, you’re sure to fall in love with this neighbourhood and its marvellous festivities.

Barcelona Carnival– Program 2019, dates and activities

Carnival is a great time to be in Barcelona, with loads of fun events happening, there’s plenty to see. This year, Barcelona Carnival will happen between February 27 and March 6, with events happening throughout the city and also in cities like Sitges, very close from Barcelona and with a spectactular carnival with several parades.

Origin of the carnaval: Why we celebrate it?

Carnival is held seven weeks after the first full moon past the Winter solsitce, traditionally ending the same day as Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter. As such, carnival is thought to be the last party before the start of Lent, a period in which people are meant to abstain from vices, such as alcohol. A festival with Roman origins, the holiday was first documented as having been celebrated in 1333. Little by Little the party began to take shape as we know it today, with costumes becoming commonplace by the 19th Century. 

Structure of the Carnival in Barcelona

Arrival of the Carnival King

This will happen on February 28 and is when the Carnival King will arrive at La Rambla, in front of the Arts Santa Mònica museum. The Carnival King arrives to inaugurate the crazy carnival week. Jumping, dancing and singing, the parade will arrive at the Palau de la Virreina, the Carnival’s Republic. 

Carnival Parades

Parades will start to take place on March 2, when throughout the city there will be over 30 different parades, ending with the main parade through the old town. Here you will see people dressed in colourful and traditional costumes for Barcelona Carnival, music and dancing filling the streets. If you want to check out all the details of Barcelona Carnival Parades, you can find the full program by district here.

Barcelona Carnival

The Burial of the Sardine

This takes place on the last day of Barcelona Carnival, which this year will be March 6. This marks the end of the carnival period and is a symbolic burial of the past to allow society to be reborn and transformed over the period of Lent. 

Enterrament de la Sardina - Barcelona carnival

If you want to make the most of Barcelona Carnival, you can also head to Sitges, just a short train ride away from Barcelona. Here a large and extravagant carnival is hosted, and residents dress up in mourning to signify the end of carnival. The Sitges Carnival is famous throughout Catalonia for being a great party. Check the program here.

Revetlla de Sant Joan in Barcelona 2018 – The most magical night

Come to Barcelona on the eve of the 23rd June and you won’t be able to miss the spectacular celebrations happening for the Revetlla de Sant Joan. Considered to be one of biggest holidays of the year in Barcelona, the streets come alive with people and the constant crack of fireworks spiralling overhead throughout the city.

The origin of the Revetlla de Sant Joan

Whilst the actual holiday falls on the 24th June, a bank holiday in Catalonia, the celebrations all happen the night before. This is in order to celebrate the longest day of the year – otherwise known as Summer Solstice and considered to be the start of summer. Summer Solstice has always been an important tradition dating back to ancient Pagan rituals when people believed in the spiritual importance of both fire and the sun. Here in Catalonia we combined that with the celebration of the birth of Sant Joan, meaning it is still marked by symbolic customs.

As well as fire, people believe in the special powers of water and herbs on this night. For this reason you may see people going for a midnight dip in the sea as it’s thought to keep you healthy all year round. Herbs are also thought to become more powerful in their curative features on Sant Joan, especially Thyme, Rosemary and Verbena.

A night of firecrackers and bonfires

As mentioned above, fire is believed to have an extraordinary power on this night of the year, being thought to chase away evil spirits. This means the city comes alive with loud firecrackers and bonfires going on until the early hours. In fact, each city neighbourhood creates their own bonfire in which they throw old furniture, another old tradition that is thought to bring you good luck over the year. In the days leading up to the Revetlla de Sant Joan, little firecracker stands pop up all over the city for people to buy their supplies.

Celebrate la Revetlla de Sant Joan 2018 in Barcelona

Whilst there are many celebrations happening throughout the city, the neighbourhood of Barceloneta has an especially wide array of activities. Here you will find people partying until dawn, amidst an array of live music, banging firecrackers and bright burning bonfires. Beach bars set up temporary stands for revellers to stock up on food and drink over the night, and you can also find activities around the neighbourhood. These can include anything from fireworks displays with “diables” (dancing devils) and “dracs” (dragons) to beautiful orchestras getting people in the mood for a great night. If you head down to Barceloneta beach you can be guaranteed to find plenty of things to entertain you for the night.

Revetlla de Sant Joan - Where to celebrate it

You can check the program of Revetlla de Sant Joan 2018 in Barceloneta here

Don’t forget to try the Coca de Sant Joan!

To mark the occasion, people eat Coca de Sant Joan, the traditional food of the celebration. A cake that can be topped with a variety of different things including candied fruit, pine nuts or crackling.

Sant joan in Barcelona 2018 - Coca de Sant Joan

There’s no doubt about it, the Revetlla de Sant Joan is one of the most magical nights of the year to be in the city of Barcelona. If you want to make that night even more special why not check out www.bizflats.com to book yourself the perfect accommodation in Barcelona.

 

Sónar 2018: Where music meets technology

Have you got your tickets for Sónar 2018? is one of those questions that you’re bound to have been asked lately. As a city, Barcelona has a deep love for music and partying, and therefore it’s no wonder that Sónar, a global reference for music festivals, is considered one of the most highly anticipated social events in the Catalan city. 

What will you find in Sónar 2018?

Founded in 1994, Sónar is a three-day electronic music festival dedicated to creativity, technology and business. It is well known as a reference for international festivals by combining a carefully curated cultural offering, and mixing in avant-garde experimentation with electronic music and latest technology trends.

The 2017 Barcelona edition attracted over 123,000 attendees from over 100 countries. The festival is hosted in two different locations in the city: Sónar by Day is hosted in the city center at Plaça Espanya in Fira Montjuïc, and Sónar by Night is hosted a little further out at Fira Gran Via L’Hospitalet. 

Sónar 2018 - Sonar by night

Sónar 2018 coincides with the festival’s 25th anniversary, and is sure to be a big one! To be hosted 14th June to 16th June 2018, big headliners have been announced already, such as Diplo, Gorillaz, Black Coffee, Amp Fiddler, Tony Allen, Thom Yorke, and more, for tickets and the full line-up click here. Also, keep an eye out for the immersive exhibition, which showcases the festival’s visual history in their 25-year journey so far.

Apart from raving to music by DJs and enjoyment, there is also a massive business and educational aspect to Sónar 2018. If you’re an industry insider, these may pique your interest: discussion panels by notable speakers to share the latest insights and developments. MarketLab, where creators can show the latest innovative technology projects they have developed; workshops and demos for those curious to learn more about music and technology. Networking events so that artists, investors, and start-ups can meet. You can see the organisors of Sónar take music and partying very seriously, and their passion for technology and business shines through.

sónar festival 2018

What else can I do while in town for Sónar 2018 ?

With so many people in town, clubs and nightlife outside of the festival always have lots of events and performances on too, keep your eyes peeled for posters and flyers around town.

If you’re passionate about art, then a visit to MACBA to check out the latest contemporary art exhibitions is a must, or any of our other world-class museums, check here our recommendations for art lovers.

Only in town for a few days and are short on time? You’ll want to squeeze the most out of it with our 3-day and 5-day Barcelona guides, to make sure you tick off all the most important monuments and sights, like Park Güell, Sagrada Família and more.

And lastly, to make the most out of your trip for Sónar 2018, you’ll want to make sure you’re staying in some centrally located accommodation so that you can travel with ease within Barcelona. Check out our full online offering now at http://www.bizflats.com

Primavera Sound: Next destination Barcelona, capital of music

Primavera Sound is an unmissable event in Barcelona. In our eyes, the arrival of summer in Barcelona is marked by a few things: rising temperatures and glorious blue skies, Ciutadella Park and Barceloneta slowly starting to fill up with sunlight lovers soaking in the rays, dinner times getting pushed back later and later as the days get longer, and the streets coming alive with life. The inauguration event to officially kick off summer? Well, we like to think that that’s Primavera Sound Music Festival.

Primavera Sound

What is Primavera Sound?

Primavera Sound is one of Europe’s most popular music festivals, and is hosted annually in Barcelona. This year it’s to be held May 30 – June 3, 2018, and over 190,000 partygoers are expected. The organisers of Primavera Sound pride themselves on carefully curating a mix of music styles and genres, with performances by both well-established artists and smaller acts that are just emerging, so that the audience can jam out to their favourites and also discover new music. El Pais says the music festival is “an integral part of Barcelona”, and La Vanguardia even went so far to rate it as “one of the best festivals in the world”. This year’s line up for 2018 was recently announced, and includes big headliners like Björk, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Migos, Arctic Monkeys, Lorde and A$AP Rocky.

Apart from the music, the location of the music festival plays a key part in the experience. The home of Primavera Sound is Parc del Fòrum, a massive waterfront park that overlooks the sea. With the glorious warm weather in May, there is no better feeling than swaying with the crowd, friends by your side, Aperol Spritz in hand, and watching the sun set on the Barcelona coastline, with the cool sea breeze in your hair… We already can’t wait.

What else can I do while in town for Primavera Sound?

Now that we’ve convinced you to come to Barcelona for Primavera Sound, you may be wondering what other things you can do while you’re here in the beautiful city of Barcelona, and to take full advantage of your travels here. Well, you’ll be spoilt for choice! No matter what you like there’s something for everyone.

For the foodies, you may wish to explore the rich gastronomic scene – plus all that dancing at Primavera Sound is sure to leave you with a great appetite. Perhaps a visit to the famous La Boqueria market on La Rambla? Or tapas-bar hopping in the well-known El Raval neighbourhood? Or you could take advantage of the beautiful weather and have a paella by the sea in one of our many beachside “xiringuitos”.

For those knowledge-hungry visitors, a visit to one of our world-class museums cannot be missed. Whether it’s arts or history, there are a huge variety of educational museums all around Barcelona.

And of course, there are a few historical sights that must be checked off one’s bucket list while in Barcelona, even if your legs are sore from dancing all day and night: a visit to Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, or a stroll through the scenic Park Güell will complete your Barcelona trip. If you’re really squeezed for time during your trip here for Primavera Sound, check out our three-day and five-day travel guides.

Are you attending Primavera Sound this year? What acts are you most excited for and what other things do you plan on doing in Barcelona? Let us know if we’ve missed anything!

To buy tickets and view the full-line up, visit the official Primavera Sound website… Be warned tickets sell out fast, so get yours before it’s too late!

 

Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018 – Things to do during your stay

Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018 is happening once more! You’re back in town again for one of the world’s biggest technological conferences, which this year takes place 26th February to 1st March at Fira Gran Via and Fira Monjuïc. There are new touristic attractions in town waiting for you to see, and also plenty of events and parties these days too. Check out this handy guide for things that you can’t miss!

Mobile world Congress 2018

New and old sights to visit during the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018

After a long day in a conference hall, there’s nothing better than to stretch those legs and get some fresh evening air. A visit to UNESO World Heritage site Casa Vicens is absolutely recommended; its doors were only just opened to the public for the first time in 130 years last winter.

Casa Vicens

Of course, if you didn’t get a chance to visit it yet, Gaudí’s Casa Batlló is stunning in the night, the myriad of coloured glittering lights almost bring the building to life. Sagrada Família after dark is also hauntingly beautiful, with the colossal structure illuminated as it looms over the rest of Barcelona. With Gaudí’s distinctive modernist style, as showcased in all three buildings above, it’s easy to see how he’s considered as one of Spain’s most renowned architects.

If you’re keen to take in more historical sights during your stay at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018, check out our Barcelona in 5 days, 3 days and 1 day travel guide.

Mobile World Congress 2018 - welcome back to Barcelona

Music events during the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018

Watch an opera performance at the spectacular Gran Teatre de Liceu. With it’s magnificent high ceilings, plush red curtains and opulent gold detailing, it is only fitting that such a grand venue would play host to one of the greatest love stories of all time, Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Showing on the evening of Tuesday 27th February.

If you’re aching for some music that you can move your body to, American pop star Jason Derulo will be performing at Sant Jordi club on the night of Monday 26th February, his top 40 hits will have you tearing up the dance floor.

Barça vs Girona soccer match during the Mobile world congress Barcelona 2018

Arriving a few days early in Barcelona? You’re in luck; on Sunday 25th February watch FC Barcelona and Girona battle it out in one of the world’s most famous football stadiums – Camp Nou. There’s even a tour and museum that showcases memorabilia and trophies for those big football fans.

Camp nou

Where to eat after Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018

Tucked away on the famous Passeig de Gràcia, El Nacional is a feast for your taste buds and eyes alike, and the perfect casual dinner spot for after the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018. Originally constructed in 1870 as a textile factory, the 8,500 square foot space has been transformed into an all-new gastronomic heaven with a Wes Anderson-esque retro flair. With four culinary areas and four specialised bars, there’s plenty to choose from, including tapas, cold cuts, cheeses, oysters, cocktails and more.

El Nacional - Best restaurants to eat in Barcelona

If you’re a fan Spain’s most loved rice dish, paella, check out our recommendations for Best Paellas in Barcelona. If you’ve got some important clients from Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018 to host, there’s plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants that will wow your companions, check out our guides for Barcelona and Catalonia here.

Where to party after Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018

Whether it’s just to grab a post-conference drink, or if you want to party until 6am, Port Olimpic’s glitzy beach-front bars and clubs are always pumping, no matter what day of the week. You’ll find a cosmopolitan crowd dancing and drinking the night away at places like Opium, Carpe Diem, Shoko and Pacha.

Also recommended are Bling Bling and Luz de Gas in upper Diagonal area, these are places to see and be seen, put on your best threads and they’ll have you wrapping up the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2018 on an absolute high! Check out our Facebook page for the latest updates on which parties to go to, or check out this article on Barcelona nightlife.

Mobile World Congress 2018 will be a very busy time for Barcelona, we highly suggest booking accommodation in advance. Check out our short-term rentals here and book your apartment today.