January 1 – Public holiday – most places are closed.
January 6 – Día de los Reyes Magos
Known in English as – Kings’ Day – this is a public holiday in Barcelona and Spain. Most shops are closed, except for a select few that start the January sales early.
February 4-10 – Carnestoltes
This event is called different names in different countries. In Catalonia it is known as ‘Carnestoltes’. It is the period in the run up to Lent which is seen as the last opportunity to eat, drink and be merry prior to the Christian period of abstinence. In Barcelona and the surrounding areas this is a period when many processions, parties and food making competitions take place.
March 13 – Barcelona marathon – many streets will be closed for traffic.
March 20 – 26 – Easter – known in Spain as Semana Santa
Spain is a Catholic country. Therefore, there are many festivities and events during Easter. It is worth noting that opening times for shops, museums, attractions and restaurants can be particularly awkward during this period. Holy week begins on Palm Sunday, when a procession traditionally takes place around the cathedral with people holding palms. A week of religious ceremonies follows, ending on Easter Sunday.
Good Friday (March 25) – This is the Friday before Easter Sunday. It is a public holiday in Spain. You will find that a large majority of shops are closed. Many of the bars and restaurants will also be closed. There are processions throughout the day. You should make your way to the Barcelona Cathedral from 16:00 to 23:00 (4pm-11pm) where there will be processions and activities in the square outside the Cathedral.
Easter Saturday (March 26) – Easter Saturday is not a public holiday, so everything runs as normal. The shops and markets are open and are busy with people stocking up for the next three days.
Easter Sunday (March 27) – Easter Sunday, like every other Sunday in Barcelona, most of the shops are closed. Many of the restaurants are also closed, however many will be open to serve those enjoying family holiday meals. There are many masses and religious processions throughout the day. Make your way to the Barcelona Cathedral if you can as this is the center of all the main activities.
Easter Monday (March 28) – Easter Monday is a public holiday. Most shops and restaurants are closed.
April 23 – Feast of Sant Jordi, the Patron Saint of Catalunya
This is seen by many Catalan as their version of Valentine’s Day – the feast of the patron saint of Catalunya. It is the feast of Saint George – also the Patron Saint of England, who is famed for having slained a dragon… It also happens to be the date of the deaths of two of history’s most famous writers: Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Tradition dictates that on this day men give women gifts of roses and women give men gifts of books. It is increasingly common however for these roles to be reversed. It is a romantic day in the city, as major streets and plazas, such as the Ramblas and Plaza Universitat are filled with stalls selling either books or roses. The gifts are not reserved only for lovers and are just as likely to be shared between friends.
May 1 – Labor Day – most shops are closed.
May 16 – Whit Monday – also called Segunda Pascua (2nd Easter) – Most shops will be closed.
June 24 – St. John Day
Always celebrated on 24 June, this holiday celebrates the birthday of St. John the Baptist. The feast day of Saint John the Baptist is popular in many European countries. It also marks the summer solstice. On this day friends and family normally meet at the Barceloneta beach to have picnics. Shops and most other places are open.
August 15 – Assumption Day
The Feast of the Assumption is a very important day in the Catholic religion. It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin. Some shops will be closed.
September 11 – National Day of Catalonia
Celebrated annually on 11 September, this is a public holiday in the Catalan region of Spain. Barcelona is the principal city in the region. The day known as ‘Festa Nacional de Catalunya’ or ‘Diada’ marks the 11th of September 1714 when Catalan forces were defeated by King Philip the 5th of Spain. Demonstrations in support of independence for Catalonia are common, along with festivities celebrating traditional Catalan music and cuisine. Many shops and streets will be closed on this day and travel will be difficult within the city. We do not recommend that you make any plans for touring inside Barcelona on this day. If possible, plan to tour outside the city.
October 12 – Spanish National Day
It is Spain’s National Holiday and is also known as Hispanic Day or Fiesta Nacional de España or Día de la Hispanidad (in Spanish). This national holiday commemorates the exact date when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas. Since many Catalans do not want to be part of Spain, there are normally some demonstrations around Placa Catalunya in the city center. Most shops will be open.
November 1 – All Saints’ Day
The tradition of placing candles on graves on the evening before All Saints’ Eve is very common in Spain. Many shops will be closed on this day.
December 6 – Constitution Day
This public holiday is always celebrated on the 6th of December and marks the approval of the Spanish constitution by the Spanish people in 1978. The day is seen as the start of the December holidays and a long weekend is normally taken in conjunction with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (see below). In recent years however, Constitution Day has become more popular for protest marches and political statements. Most shops will be closed.
December 8 – Immaculate Conception
Celebration to mark the day that the Blessed Mother Mary was conceived. Some shops will be closed.
December 25 – Christmas Day – most shops are closed.