The Catalans’ seemingly endless enthusiasm for festivals and parties means that there’s scarcely a week in the year that doesn’t include at least a couple. These range from the full-on traditional knees-up, with giants, dwarfs and dragons wheeling through fireworks, to gentle street fairs selling artisanal honey and sausages, and perhaps laying on a bouncy castle.
The array of religious events and old-fashioned pageants, all of which spotlight what makes Catalonia unique, are supplemented by a wide variety of more modern celebrations. You’re just as likely to stumble across a festival of rock documentaries, graffiti art, hip hop or cyber sculpture as you are to see a traditional parade: Sónar alone attracts 80,000 people each year.
The key annual events are September’s Festes de la Mercè, the main city celebrations that offer a wild variety of events. The Mercè and the other 30 or so neighborhood festes share many traditional ingredients: dwarfs, castellers (human castles), and gegants (huge papier-mâché/fiberglass giants dressed as princesses, fishermen, sultans and even topless chorus girls), and two unique exercises: the correfoc and the sardana.