Sant Joan 2020 – Will beaches open?

Sant Joan 2020 will be held on the night of Tuesday 23rd – but this year may be different to past years. Now the the city entered into “the new normal” of its deconfinement plan, many of us are wondering how Sant Joan will be celebrated this year.

How is Sant Joan normally celebrated?

Dating back to Pagan traditions, Sant Joan is celebrated on the eve of the Summer Solstice, which falls on 24 June 24. This festival both marks the beginning of summer and the birth of Sant (Saint) Joan. You can discover more about one of the biggest celebrations on the Catalan calendar in our article here

Sant Joan - Saint Joan

In normal years, you would find huge groups of people along the beaches of Barcelona gathered around grand bonfires and the city’s skyline decorated with exploding fireworks.However, given certain restrictions imposed this year in Barcelona due to COVID-19, the city’s mayor, Ada Calau, has announced that this year’s Sant Joan will be different from others.

So if you’re spending this Sant Joan in Barcelona, we’ve put together this article so you can celebrate San Joan safely and in line with government-issued regulations.

Will the beaches in Barcelona be open this Sant Joan?

Following advice from health experts, this year the city’s 10 beaches will be closed from 8 pm on 23 June. This will be the first time Sant Joan celebrations will not be permitted on the city’s sandy shores. 

In Barcelona, Sant Joan has become synonymous with mass gatherings of thousands of people on the city’s beaches, therefore this measure has been implemented to prevent large crowds from forming and to ensure safety distances.

This Sant Joan, you should also bear in mind that beach bars and restaurants will also close at 8 pm on 23 June. The beach and beach facilities will be open to the public as of 10 am on 24 June with the usual social distancing measures and controlled capacity.

How many people can I celebrate with?

Sant Joan 2020 will be celebrated when Barcelona has entered phase 3 of its de-confinement plan. In line with government guidelines, you may celebrate with 15 and 20 friends or members of family. It is also recommended that, unlike previous years, the use of fireworks should be kept to a minimum.

Organised local festivities and events are allowed – but with social distancing regulations and capacity restrictions. Open-air events, as are typical on the eve of Sant Joan, can be attended by up to 800 people. Closed events that will take place inside this San Joan can be attended by 80 people.

We advise you to check with your local neighbourhood civic centre regarding any celebrations that might be held.

Are bonfires allowed this Sant Joan?

As we have mentioned, this Sant Joan will not see the traditional celebrations along the city’s 10 beaches. The city council has also decided to not allow large bonfires.  

Small fires are allowed provided that they are no bigger than one metre squared and are duly protected, e.g. on a brick surface or brazier. Permission must be requested to have a bonfire.

Can I still buy fireworks?

This Sant Joan, fireworks will be sold as in past years. There are 117 sale points around the city where you can buy fireworks, always in line with social distancing regulations. 

The Barcelona municipal police force, known as the Guàrdia Urbana (Urban Guard) will deploy additional forces to prevent large crowds, to reinforce social distancing, and to control alcohol consumption.

What are some alternative Sant Joan plans?

This year, why not celebrate a safe Sant Joan among friends and family. If you’re looking for an alternative plan, our Barcelona apartments boast locations with privileged views of the city and are perfect for gazing in awe at the colourful fireworks over the city.

Why not try your hand at baking a Coca de Sant Joan? This sweet bread topped with candied fruit and pine nuts is traditionally enjoyed as a Sant Joan treat and can be bought from many a bakery leading up to the celebrations. Read more about it in our article here.

There will also be virtual DJ sessions broadcast by the Casa Groga, Teixonera and Carmel civic centres on their YouTube channel for those of us who will party to dawn but from home.

We hope you enjoy this slightly different Sant Joan and, above all, stay safe! 

Sant Jordi 2020 – When and how will be celebrated?

Books and Roses

A new date has been announced for Sant Jordi 2020. This year, given the current circumstances, the official Booksellers Guild and Florists Guild of Catalonia have decided to postpone this eagerly awaited event on the Catalan calendar in line with Government guidelines. 

Sant Jordi – which is normally celebrated every year on World Book Day on 23rdApril – will be postponed to 23rdJuly with the safety of all in mind. All events, workshops and readings will also be postponed to this date, in addition to the Sant Jordi discount on books.

The proposal of the Booksellers Guild and Florists Guild foresees limited stops and pre-organized book signings to comply with security measures and hygiene. The proposal for Sant Jordi 2020 is pending approval by Procicat and the corresponding municipalities. In Barcelona has been planned to install a thousand stops, for which will be needed the approval of the Municipal Events Commission.

In addition, queues and movement between stops will be regulated, for which a maximum space will be set. All visitors must come with a mask, respect the distance of 1.5 meters and follow the instructions on safety and hygiene given by the organization.

Sant Jordi 2020

Why is Sant Jordi so important?

If you’ve had the chance to experience this day in Barcelona before, you’ll understand just how important it is. It is a day on which the young and old alike take to the streets to buy their loved ones a gift. All the main streets of Barcelona are lined with bookstalls and on every corner you’ll find rose sellers selling single roses. 

The origin of this literary celebration is a popular story in many cultures and is based on the story of Sant Jordi and the dragon. To read more about its history and how it’s celebrated, check out our Sant Jordi article here.

Sant Jordi 2020 will definitely take place in a very different way than usual

Sant Jordi 2020 at home

Lovers of Sant Jordi don’t despair! If you don’t want to walk around to visit the different bookstalls on the 23rd of July, you can also celebrate Sant Jordi 2020 from home!

This year, Casa Batlló is encouraging the citizens of Barcelona to bring the magic of Sant Jordi into their own homes. Every year on this day, this beautiful Gaudí house inspired by the mythical dragon is normally adorned with hundreds of red roses. 

So, be sure to follow the #SantJordialBalcons (SantJordiBalconies) initiative on social media and join in from home by decorating your own balcony with pictures, roses, dragons and book covers. Avoid boredom by getting creative and painting, drawing and making together with your loved ones.

Sant Jordi at home

Remember to upload your pictures to social media with the above hash tag. The ten publications with the most likes will win a collection of children’s books. 

Supporting local booksellers

Additionally, don’t forget that it’s still possible to buy books online from local sellers. Thanks to the platform “LlibreriesObertes” (OpenBookstores), you can order your books and pick them up once the lockdown regulations have been lifted.

The initiative was launched in order to support these local publishers and bookstores during these times of hardship. With the objective of selling 30,000 books, these advance sales will ensure the survival of the city’s bookstores.

Sant Jordi 2020 - books

Check out the website here and help support Barcelona’s bookstores: https://llibreriesobertes.cat

These are days of reading from home, this is why we also recommend you also 8 books about Barcelona that you will love.

How will you be celebrating Sant Jordi 2020 this year? Let us know!

Songs about Barcelona

7 Barcelona songs that will make you fall in love with the city

Unmissable Barcelona songs? Whether you’re creating a playlist for your next trip to Barcelona or simply missing the Catalan capital, these songs about the magical city will inspire you to dance around and sing about your love for it.

Barcelona has been visited by many a creative, singer and songwriter over the years on the quest for inspiration. Many have found it in its charming cobbled streets, quirky bars and buzzing cultural scene.

So, what are you waiting for? Turn the volume up and don’t be afraid to sing along!

Barcelona songs

7 Barcelona songs that you will love

1. La Rumba de Barcelona – Manu Chao (2002)

Rumored to own a bar in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, Manu Chao is a French-Spanish singer who performs in a large variety of languages. His song about Barcelona will take you straight to the heart of the city with its catchy beat and lyrics. We guarantee you’ll be singing it as you walk down Las Ramblas

2. Barcelona – Giulia y Los Tellarini (Vicky Cristina Barcelona Soundtrack) (2008)

The Catalan-Italian band Giulia y Los Tellarini never dreamed their song ‘Barcelona’ would be chosen for Woody Allen’s film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This song was featured on the trailer for the film. 

As the song lyrics go “Barcelona is powerful” and we couldn’t agree more!

3. Barcelona – Freddie Mercury and Monsterrat Caballé (1988)

Barcelona is the title song of the audacious collaborative album by Freddie Mercury and soprano Montserrat Caballé. With Mercury’s second solo album he fulfilled one of his life-long dreams to combine opera and rock.

The Queen lead singer put his life and soul into his work and unfortunately died several months before being able to open the Barcelona 1992 Olympics with this Barcelona song.

4. Barcelona Hechicera – Peret (1992)

This catchy rhythmic song is dedicated to the city of Barcelona and its main sights. It’s one of our favourites and always puts us in a good mood.

It was written in 1992 for the closing ceremony of the Barcelona Olympic Games to the tune of Catalan Rumba. This music genre was developed in the gypsy community of the city in the 60s, influenced by Flamenco Rumba, Cuban rhythms and rock and roll.

5. Barcelona – Ed Sheeran (2017)

The young 25-year-old singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran penned this song out of love for his dear Barcelona. This upbeat tune will certainly get you in the mood to visit the Sagrada Familia and Las Ramblas. The singer decided to include some of the Spanish words he knew, despite them not making much sense, to capture his perspective of the city.

6. George Ezra – Barcelona (2014)

The song Barcelona is taken from George Ezra’s album ‘Wanted On Voyage’.

The story goes that George was struggling to deal with his rapid fame and needed to sort some things out in his head. His answer was to move in with a stranger in Barcelona and spend some time reconnecting with the real world. Thus this song was born!

7. We’re from Barcelona – I’m from Barcelona (2006)

The name of this Swedish group is funnily enough “I’m from Barcelona”. It’s said that the band’s inspiration for their name and this song came from Manuel the waiter in Monty Python’s Faulty Towers.

The video features all 29 band members – we bet you can’t resist singing along with them!

So, there you have it. Enjoy these Barcelona songs! They will make you dance and feel the Barcelona vibes for sure!

To know more about Barcelona and start planning your trip, you can check the places to visit in Barcelona depending on the days  you are going to spend in the city:

So push the play button and start doing your suitcase, we are waiting for you!

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

The Three Kings Day 2019 in Barcelona

The Three Kings Day 2019 is one of the highlights of the Barcelona Christmas Season.  Its name in Catalan is Dia dels Tres Reis d’Orient, and is also known as The Epiphany in religious terms, and happens on the sixth day of January.

It is a major event in the Catholic Church’s Nativity agenda. Three Kings Day marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men of the Orient to the birthplace of Jesus at his stable in Bethlehem.  They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn messiah, but in Barcelona, they arrive to give gifts to the city’s inhabitants.

For local kids here in Barcelona, Three Kings Day is even more special, as the focus of the day is on them and not really the grown-ups.  Rather like the traditional Father Christmas character in Northern Europe, children only receive gifts if they have been good all year long!  The city’s children also have to write a letter to the King’s Pages ahead of the Three Kings arrival to ensure they get the gifts they desire.

On the 5th of January, the Three Kings arrive in Barcelona with a spectacular street parade called La Cavalcada dels Reis d’Orient – which is a procession to symbolise the arrival of the Three Kings into Bethlehem mounted on their camels, each bearing their gifts for the baby Jesus.

Three Kings Day 2018

This year, they will arrive by boat at 4:00pm at the Moll de la Fusta.  After a welcome statement by city officials, the Three Kings begin a parade along the city streets.  This year, the Three Kings parade starts on avinguda Marquès de l’Argentera at 6pm, snaking its way through the city, finishing at the Magic Fountains of Montjuïc at around 9:00pm. Check here their route.

The Three Kings parade features the Three Kings in their carnival style float among a whole collection of other floats and musical attractions, where the performers are laden with candy and sweets to throw at the children who catch them, normally in umbrellas that are held upside down.


After the parade has finished and before the children go to bed, they have to prepare some food and water for the Three Kings and their camels to take refreshment.  Normally unable to sleep with excitement, contemplating the next morning, the children will eventually settle to sleep and wake early the following morning, when they can see and open their gifts on Three Kings Day.

After the morning’s activities are over, the whole family will settle down for a very special lunch.  It is normally a four course sitting and traditional menus will begin with a buffet of tapas followed by a special soup and then a third course of meat or freshly cooked fish.

Then the pièce de résistance is served – Tortell de Reis (King’s Cake) – a puffy, circular, marzipan sponge cake filled with cream, resembling a King’s crown.  In fact there will be a crown in the centre and the cake is topped off with dried fruits symbolizing a crown’s jewels.

But the King’s Day tradition doesn’t stop there, because inserted into the cake are two objects – a bean and a figurine of the baby Jesus.  Whoever recovers the figurine gets to wear the crown and is called King for the day (also signaling that that person will have a very lucky year) and whoever gets the bean unfortunately has to pay for the cake!

As you can see, Three King’s Day 2019 will be a very special day indeed for the city’s children. So why not make your stay in Barcelona just as special by renting a luxury apartment during your stay.  We have a wide selection of apartments to rent all over the city, so why not opt for one on the Three Kings parade route?  See here for our selection of beautiful places to rent during these unique celebrations.

A Guide to Christmas Concerts in Barcelona

The nights are drawing in earlier, the mornings are chillier and soon lights of every colour will illuminate the streets of Barcelona. 

This can only mean one thing! Christmas is almost upon us.  And if you’re spending Christmas in Barcelona this year, we can recommend a different plan to ensure you make the most of time with your loved ones. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and preparing for the many family gatherings and meals, take some time out to enjoy a unique musical experiences.

christmas concerts in barcelona

We’ve compiled this short guide to concerts during the festive season for you to sit back and be regaled by local choirs and orchestras. What better way to get in the festive mood!

Christmas on Broadway

Where: L’Auditori

When: Friday 20 and Saturday, 21 December 2019

Join the Symphonic Orchestra of Barcelona on a journey through the musicals of Broadway in a fantastic gala show to kick off the festive season in style. With music from works by Rodgers and Hammerstein (2015), Lloyd Webber (2017) and Bernstein (2018), there’s something for everyone.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Where: Gran Teatre del Liceu

When: Saturday, 21 and Sunday, 22 December 2019

Enjoy this Christmas classic surrounded by loved ones. Music by Albert Guinovart together with Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Amics de la Unió children’s choir.

Star Wars & OCM: Original Soundtracks by John Williams

Where: El Palau de la Música Catalana

When: Thursday, 19 and Saturday, 21 December 2019

Relive some of John William’s most emblematic soundtracks from the big screen including Star Wars, E.T., Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List. We’re sure that you’ll laugh, cry and be entertained by the favourites of this renowned and prize-winning composer.

Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci

Where: Gran Teatre del Liceu

When: Various dates from 5–22 December 2019

This December enjoy a unique double opera session of two acclaimed Royal Opera House productions. These two Italian classics set in the 1950s will be performed side by side in what is sure to be an epic evening of emblematic opera.

The Magic World of Hans Zimmer

Where: L’Auditori

When: Wednesday, 25 December 2019

What better way to spend the most magical day of the year than enjoying music from some of the most epic films of the century. From The Lion King, Gladiator, Pearl Harbour, Pirates of the Caribbean and many more, bring this special day to a close surrounded by your loved ones.

St. Stephen’s Choral Concert: Christmas at the Palau

Where: El Palau de la Música Catalana

When: Thursday, 26 December 2019

Take part in this festive tradition of Catalonia with this unique concert held every St. Stephen’s Day. The charming melodies of the Orfeó Català and a combination of choirs are sure to bring the whole family together in an enchanting venue.

If you’re spending Christmas season in Barcelona, we’re sure one of these magical concerts will make for an unforgettable experience with your loved ones.

9 Sports Bars in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that has it all: history, culture, beach, nature and not to forget, a healthy love for all types of sport. Tourists visit this cosmopolitan hub from all around the world, and many share Barcelona’s passion for its local team. Whether it is football, basketball, athletics or something else you’re after, you’ll find a multitude of sports bars in the city showing both local and international matches, cups and tournaments.

La Pròrroga

So, just because you’re on holiday it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favourite teams’ matches. Say goodbye to searching for Wi-Fi to check the latest scores and head to one of these lively sports bars in the centre of Barcelona. We’ve selected our best spots for you to stay up to date with the action among a lively crowd!

Also referred to as the sports “bodega”, La Pròrroga bar in Gràcia is a comfortable environment where you can enjoy good food and good sports. Catch the latest football, rugby or basketball game on its 125-inch screen.

C/ de les Guilleries 10

Sports Bar Italian Food

The name says it all. Look no further for some of the best homemade pizza and pasta in Barcelona, with great service and at affordable prices. Enjoy the latest matches surrounded by several screens and locals and tourists alike. 

c/ Ample 51

L’Ovella Negra Marina

If you’re looking for an animated crowd to cheer along with, L’Ovella Negra is the place to be. Enjoy its several screens, very lively atmosphere and huge barrels of beer to share! Get there early to secure a seat in the front row or to play a game of pool while you wait for the game to start.

C/ Zamora 78

Michael Collins

Like all big cities, Barcelona has its fair share of Irish pubs showing everything from Champions League finals to Wimbledon. Our favourite is Michael Collins located right by the Sagrada Familia. After a tour of this Gaudí icon, slip into its warm, cosy interior and pull up a chair by the big screen.

C/ Plaça de la Sagrada Família, 4

CocoVail

This American-style sports bar with long wooden tables, several screens and a fantastic range of craft beer on tap is located just off Passeig de Gràcia. Its tasty snack menu and selection of board games mean there’s something for everyone!

C/ d’Aragó 284

Xaica Bar

If you’re really looking for the local experience, head down to Xaica Bar on Carrer de Jovellanos. With an exquisite menu of Catalan dishes and a boisterous crowd of Barça supporters, what’s not to love!

C/ Jovellanos 7

Pasa Tapas

With a pool table, screens and a tasty selection of tapas in La Barceloneta, Pasa Tapas is a popular option to catch the latest games. What’s more, if you want to see a match that you can’t find elsewhere, just let the friendly staff know!

C/ del Dr. Aiguader, 8

Belushi’s Bar

Located a few metres off Plaça Catalunya, Belushi’s Bar with 10 plasma screens shows sport from all around the world. As the bar is part of a hostel, you’ll get the action with English commentary and in a lively, international atmosphere!

C/ de Bergara, 3

Sonora Sport Tavern

The Sonora Sport Tavern is decked out in American style décor, with a wooden bar, vintage signs and sports memorabilia. Located in Poble Nou, it’s a nice alternative outside of the city centre. We recommend its great burgers and nachos washed down with a litre of beer.

C/ de Pamplona, 96

So, pull up a stool and join in the chants among the sea of scarves and football shirts. With such a large variety of bars to choose from you can cheer on your team while you soak up the local atmosphere.  

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.