This post is for April 2018. The new article with the 2019 events will be published a few weeks beforehand.
April marks the beginning of Spring and I can’t think of a better time to visit Barcelona. This year, the Easter holidays are in March so it will be a fairly quiet month in terms of visitors (specially in the first half). That means gorgeous weather and few crowds before the high season kicks off. There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona in April and, what is probably the most special day of the whole year, also takes place this month. Keep on reading to find out.
Events and Festivals in Barcelona in April 2018
Sant Jordi’s Day (April 23rd)
If you are in the city on April 23rd you can’t miss thousands of roses filling the streets. We are commemorating Saint George’s Day (or Jordi as it is known here), the patron saint of Catalonia. On this special day men will buy a rose for the woman they love, think of a local Valentine’s Day. The tradition started in the 15th century and is related to the golden legend of the saint and his princess. The flowers are not only for wives and girlfriends but also for mothers, grannies or close friends. As this date also marks International Book Day, what shall the women give in return? Easily guessed: a book.
Roses are sold all day round at official stalls or by street vendors. The main aim being that all the ladies will get one before the end of the day. The city centre gets packed with book stands where well-known writers spend the day signing their work. It is a great day to go for a walk, buy a few books (all have discounted prices), get them signed and chat a bit with the author.
Remember that, although there is an air of festivity all around, it is not a holiday. This means that everything will be a lot busier in the evening when everyone finishes work. My advice is to get to La Rambla in the morning as it will be a bit quieter. I always say that Sant Jordi is the only day of the whole year when La Rambla is taken over by locals again instead of tourists only. Not a bad thing to see ;-). The two emblematic government buildings on both sides of Plaça de Sant Jaume will also open for free. A unique opportunity to enjoy the fabulous architecture of the Generalitat’s Palace where the tradition of the roses started and even claims to posses a relic of the saint. Try to visit at Spanish lunchtime to avoid the long queues.
Feria de Abril – April Fair (April 27th to May 6th)
Catalonia is unofficially called “the 9th Andalusian province”. The reason for such an unusual name is the massive immigration in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s from the South of Spain to the industrial North that doubled the Catalan population. They brought their food (tapas is a tradition from Andalusia, not Catalonia) and their music (think of the Gipsy Kings with their Catalan Rumba) but they always longed for their wonderful Seville’s April Fair. That is why in the 1970’s they started their own in their new home: Barcelona.
This is a festival of food and dance celebrated for 10 days at the Parc del Forum. There are about 70 tents (casetas) where you can find everything, from Sevillana dances in traditional costumes to free concerts by famous artists, from Andalusian food competitions to free flowing of sherry wine.
Part of the fair is taken every year by a big fairground and the iconic wheel with beautiful views over the Mediterranean. Funfair rides, candy floss and more and more sherry and dancing to give you a flavour of the South of Spain in Catalonia.
Cursa de Bombers – firefighters race (April 22nd)
Running for 20 years now, this is a very special race organised by the firefighters (bombers) of Barcelona. What started as a way of asking for better work conditions has turned into an international competition where everyone is welcome. However, the big stars of the day are obviously the firefighters.
The 10km race starts at 9am on April 22nd from Estació de França. If you would like to participate you can sign up for the race until April 15th or until all spaces have been taken. This year they estimate about 15,000 runners together with the firefighters in their work uniforms. A great opportunity for unusual photographs.
Barcelona Weather in April
There is a saying here that says “en Abril, aguas mil” with literally means, “in April a thousand showers”. You could be unlucky but, generally, it doesn’t really rain that much in Barcelona, even in April. Temperatures range between 16ºC and 21ºC (61ºF to 70ºF) so it is quite temperate all day around. Count with warm enough weather during the day and a light jacket at night but don’t forget to pack a raincoat in case the old saying is still valid.
Accommodation and queues
Although not as busy as the following months, visiting Barcelona in April is not as cheap as it is in winter. That means that hotels will probably stop offering those fantastic deals and the luxury of going to the main attractions with no queues is not an option anymore. However, don’t forget that you can avoid those lines in all monuments and museums by purchasing the tickets online beforehand. My advice is to always use the official websites for each site in order to avoid those annoying extra commissions.
I hope this was helpful to organise your time in Barcelona in April. If you are also here a bit earlier or later, don’t forget to check the posts with recommendations for things to do in March and things to do in May. And remember that on April 1st we change to our summer timetable for the daily Free Tours and the afternoon ones will start a bit later. Have a great Sant Jordi!
Main photographs by Teresa Grau Ros