Planning a holiday this year? Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape with your partner, a party weekend away with your friends, or just fancy experiencing Catalan culture, Barcelona could be the city for you. I could give you a thousand reasons why you should come to Barcelona, but in this article I will just stick with the best 12 reasons to visit Barcelona in 2012.
1) January: The sales
Shopping fever takes over Barcelona on the 7th of January, when the infamous winter sales begin. Shops all across the city slash their prices up to 50% or even 70%, from the most luxurious labels on Passeig de Gràcia to the independent boutiques in the Born area. But it doesn’t stop here – the sales make a welcome return in July, and on a smaller scale you can also find many discounts just before Christmas at the Barcelona Shopping Night. Basically, if you love shopping… come to Barcelona!
2) February: Fira de Barcelona – Mobile World Congress
Are you a technology fanatic? Now you have a reason to come and visit Barcelona… for the Mobile World Congress! It’s the biggest and best mobile phone exposition in the world. You’ll be able to discover the latest innovations, attend conferences and talks about the industry and even participate in ‘app’ competitions.
3) March: Spring has arrived!
Spring means the return of hot weather to Barcelona. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and explore Barcelona’s many parks, beaches and nearby mountains. As a picture speaks a thousand words, I leave you with a picture of Tibidabo. Says it all, really.
4) April: Easter – Religion
In Spain, together with Christmas, Easter is the most important religious celebration of the year. Barcelona puts on a huge Easter parade, although admittedly not as spectacular as the one in Andalucía. However, Barcelona is probably the only city in the world that can boast three extremely beautiful religious buildings, including the unfinished Gaudí masterpiece (the Sagrada Família), Barcelona’s magnificent Cathedral and the city’s stunning church, Santa Maria del Mar.
5) May: Feel the Need for Speed – Montmeló
The Barcelonans are still waiting to find out if the local hero (Jamie Alguersari) will take the wheel, but if not, undoubtedly the Spanish champion Fernando Alonso will be the crowd’s favourite. Montmeló is one of the most exciting and controversial race tracks in the world – in the last six years no two winners have been the same. A month after the F1, racers such as Rossi and the Catalan Dani Pedrosa will be delighting the audience with skids and wheelies at the Moto GP.
6) June: Football – The Eurocup
After five ‘Clásicos’ (FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid) in 2011, this year they’ll be facing each other once again on 22April in Camp Nou for the Spanish league. As two of the best teams in Europe, it’s likely they’ll wind up playing against each other in the Champions league. When the season come to an end, Casillas, Xavi and the rest will have to unite to defend their title in the Eurocup. Once more Spaniards and Europeans alike will flock to Barcelona to celebrate this great football event.
7) July: Barcelona’s beaches – Chiringuitos and beach clubs
The great Barcelona weather means you can go to the beach around nine months a year. Even though some of Barcelona’s beaches are overcrowded with locals and tourists (such as Barceloneta beach) there are also more peaceful beaches further down the coastline such as Bogatell and Nova Mar Bella. You can also find beautiful beaches outside the city, for example in Castelldefels or Sitges. Apart from beaches, summer also means the opening of beach clubs – open-aair nightclubs with a pool, palm trees and terraces with views over the sea!
8 ) August: Local street parties – Festa de Gràcia
The city of Barcelona is made up of 10 districts and almost 80 neighbourhoods, each one with its own unique characteristics – some are on the seafront (Barceloneta), others at the foot of the mountain (Sarrià) and others in the historic centre (Gótico and Born). All of them have their own fiestas, however in August the best one of all takes place – la Festa de Gràcia. The streets and squares are spectacularly decorated and there are many activities and concerts taking place throughout the night.
9) September: Tradition – La Mercè
Barcelona is a very multicultural city, however it has still held on tight to its Catalan roots. La Mercè festival is one of the most important Catalan traditions. Walking through the streets, you’ll see human towers, fire-breathing dragons, correfocs (literally a ‘fire-run’), and people dancing the typical Catalan dance – the Sardana. You’ll also be able to get a taste of typical Catalan cuisine and enjoy the free concerts until the early hours of the morning. It’s possibly Barcelona’s best event of the year.
10) October: Architecture – 48 Hours Open House Festival
People are always so excited to see the works of Gaudí – Parc Güell, Casa Batlló and the Pedrera, that they miss out on the magnificent works of Domenech and Montaner – the Sant Pau hospital and the Palau de la Música Catalana. Not to mention that contemporary architecture is also very present in Barcelona – for example, the Torre Agbar and the National theatre. In October the 48H Open House BCN festival gives you free access to 150 buildings of all types and styles around Barcelona.
11) November: Winter accommodation
One of the reasons to visit Barcelona in winter is for the pleasant weather. Even in mid-November it’s not uncommon to see people walking around in T-shirts and many terraces are still open. It’s probably the best weather to visit museums and the other main tourist attractions, especially as there are fewer tourists around. The best thing of all is that due to the lack of tourism in the city, accommodation is at its cheapest.
12) December: Christmas and New Year’s Eve
Why visit Barcelona at Christmas time? Maybe for the huge Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas market, for the incredible Christmas lights, for the caganers (a small figure of a Catalan shepherd doing his business), for the Christmas food… it all sounds very tempting doesn’t it? Afterwards, come and spend a very glamorous New Year’s Eve at Barcelona’s Port Olímpic and enjoy the last night of the year on the seafront.
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