Spain, being a Catholic country, has few religious traditions as important as Semana Santa or ‘holy week’. Easter is a huge event in the religious calendar and holy week sees high-profile processions take place in towns and cities throughout the country.
Barcelona is a modern and cosmopolitan city and the Easter celebrations are not quite on the same scale as those of other Spanish cities like Seville. However Catholic traditions are still an important part of the city’s cultural fabric and if you spend Easter weekend in Barcelona, there will certainly be a lot going on.
Escape to the country
There’s also a more recent secular tradition that defines Easter in Barcelona – many Barcelonans make for the countryside to take advantage of the long weekend. The city becomes much quieter, as over half a million vehicles head out of town in an annual exodus known as ‘Operación Salida’ – literally, ‘operation exit’. The combination of quieter streets, colourful festivities and pleasant spring weather makes Easter one of the best times of year to visit Barcelona.
Easter Parades in Barcelona
Probably the most significant event in Barcelona during Semana Santa is Palm Sunday. A procession takes place in the Ciutat Vella known as La Burreta commemorating the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem on a donkey. You’ll find palm stalls throughout the centre of Barcelona selling the distinctive bleached palm fronds carried by the devout.
This is just the start of a week of religious parades including Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, ‘Our Lady of Anguish’ and Nuestro Padre Jesús del Gran Poder. These are followed by María Santísima de la Esperanza Macarena, ‘Our almighty Lord Jesus and the blessed Mary of hope’, on Good Friday. Both of these processions centre on the Gótico and Las Ramblas, so keep an eye out if you’re around the city centre.
For an apartment next to the Easter celebrations, check out our great selection of apartments near Las Ramblas.
There’s a real timelessness to the Easter celebrations in this part of the world. You’ll see hooded penitents march around as if the Inquisition was still on the go, and of course the spectacular floats and effigies centering around the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. There’s a great deal of regional and local variation when it comes to celebrating Easter in Spain. Catalan traditions sit alongside those from southern Spain. If you happen to be in the suburb of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, you’ll see celebrations that echo those of Seville, thanks to the significant Andalusian population in this part of town.
Easter Cake and typical food
As the Christian tradition dictates, people tend to avoid eating meat on Good Friday, and Barcelona is a city where this duty becomes a real treat for the palate. Different forms of cod are the most traditional dish, including cod with chickpeas, cod with potatoes, and salted cod. An Easter cake known as ‘La Mona de Pascua’ is given out to children by godparents on Easter Sunday as well as chocolate eggs. There’s also a whole host of sweet delicacies on offer associated with Easter such as sugar dough morsels called pestiños.
Easter opening times
During festival days the majority of shops and museums are closed – especially on Friday 29 March, Sunday 31 March and Monday 1 April. Restaurants are less likely to close as many families celebrate this religious occasion by going out for a meal together.
Whether you’re particularly religious or not, the unique spectacle and atmosphere created by these celebrations means that a visit to Barcelona at Easter will be truly memorable. Why not take a look at our accommodation in Barcelona this Easter as well as our selection of over 50 discount vouchers across the city?
Thanks a lot for the article.Really thank you! Will read again¦
Thanks very much for the comment – I’m glad you found the article helpful and interesting. Please let us know if you have any more questions or comments about Easter in Barcelona
The chicks are so cute! Happy Easter OH!
Thanks for some info about Easter in Barcelona. I’m going to this beautiful place on 5th of April and staying till 8th of April. I hope I will spend great Easter there 🙂
I’m glad you found the information useful.
I’m sure you will have a great Easter here – what are you most looking forward to? Make sure you don’t miss the Easter parade!
I ąm going to see Marine Museum, Aquarium and beautiful building of Gaudi. I think I will miss Easter Parade because I’ve got plane at 11 am on Sunday. Anyway I hope I will find other good attraction and everything won’t be close 🙂
Wow sounds like quite an itinerary you have planned there! Yes, there is so much to do and see around the city – if you need any other ideas we have a really good article called ‘Barcelona in 3 days’ which you may find useful.
Hope this helps and enjoy your stay 🙂
I was wondering if you knew if the Montjuic activities (museum,fountain,etc) will be open on Easter Monday April 9th?
As far as I’m aware the Montjuïc cable car will be open 10 -19 as usual and both the Catalan National Art Museum – MNAC and the Joan Miró museum should be open between 10 – 14.30 Easter Monday.
The magic fountain however will still be on winter time (only doing shows on Fridays and Saturdays) however I believe they also run shows on Thursday and Sunday during Easter weekend, but not on Monday.
I hope this helps! How long will you be staying in Barcelona? Are you planning on trying to catch the Easter parade?
Hola please can I check if all the tops retardants are likely to be shut at easter from 6th to 8th april or longer? Are there days where it’s all shut? Grocery stores etc?
During Easter Friday, Sunday and Monday a large majority of shops will be closed, and also a few restaurants. I would suggest if you have a particular restaurant in mind you look at its official website. Try to stock up on groceries on the Saturday, as this is not a public holiday and everything runs normally. Will you be going to watch any of the parades around Barcelona during Easter?
We booked a gorgeous apartment through you and arrive on Easter Sunday for 4 nights. Do you think we will have problems getting to the apartment on Easter Sunday due to the parade (we are staying near Placa Francesc Macia) and will arrive early afternoon? Also, will there be any shops open to grab some food/drink supplies?
The city will be slightly busier, with parades and other events happening, but there should not be a problem arriving to the apartment. Public transport operates as a normal Sunday (5am- midnight), although services will be slightly less frequent.
There will be a small handful of shops open, however the vast majority will not be. Bear in mind it might be better to head to restaurant, cafe or bar.
You are coming to Barcelona at a great time, the celebrations and parades around the city are fantastic. Are you planning to join in any of the Catalan Easter traditions?
Thank you so much for the information and the additional links, they are very useful. x
Hi – we’d love to see one of the parades, but are leaving on Good Friday. Where should we go, at what time, to see a parade earlier in easter week, say on wednesday or maundy Thursday?
First of all, apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The main parades take place on Palm Sunday and of course the Easter weekend beginning Good Friday as you mentioned. I hope you enjoyed your time in Barcelona and if you want to read more about Easter in the city have a look here: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/?s=semana+santa. Semana Santa is a perfect time to visit, and so I hope you´ll come back in future to enjoy the religious processions.
Hi! Will be visiting Barcelona on Good Friday and Saturday.. Will clubs and bars be open? I know that shops will likely be closed.
Don´t worry about that; although you´re right that many places will be closed, you should have few problems finding places to eat and go out, especially in the touristy areas. The Easter weekend is a big party weekend here in Barcelona and so restaurants and such do a roaring trade.
Hi, I love your postings, you are so helpful & full of great ideas. Thank you for sharing part of your life with us.I can’t get to the information about Easter. Could you tell me what I need to do. I’m sorry to bother you with this but I would love to read about ideas to help make Easter meaningful. I clicked on the words Making More of Easter but it didn’t go anywhere.Blessings to you,Pat.
Thanks for the comment.
If you’d like a bit more info about Easter in Barcelona then this article is worth a look too: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2010/culture/food-and-drink/mona-pascua-3899
As a pagan (forced into it by all this self-castigating, Spanish gloom and doom Catholicism) I won´t be in Barcelona for Semana Santa but embracing the chicks and egg symbolism of the pagan rite of Spring at home. However, I enjoyed your article and look forward to a trip to Barcelona in mid-March (to see Justin Bieber, don´t ask). I´ll be perusing your site for stuff to do.
Thanks for the comment.
We hope you’ll enjoy your Semana Santa at home and that you’ll enjoy your trip to the city in March too! You’ll find plenty of things to do in our blog articles such as this 3-day guide: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2012/tourist-guide/sightseeing/barcelona-in-3-days-743
If you’ve any more questions then just let us know!