May is the month when the beautiful warm weather definitely settles in Barcelona. It is a fantastic time to visit the city for those who can’t take the Summer heat. Being the peak of Spring you can expect flowers to be in full bloom in the parks and some festivals take advantage of this. Also, if you are looking for things to do in Barcelona in May and you like music, you are at the right place as some of the most important music festivals happen this month. Read on and discover why there is something for everyone if you visit Barcelona in May!
Post updated in April 2019. The update with 2020 activities will be published soon.
Events and Festivals in Barcelona in May 2019
The Night of the Museums (18th May)
This is a very special night. All the museums in the city celebrate the International Museums Day opening their doors to everyone from 7 pm to 1 am. Not only you can see the main rooms and itinerary exhibitions for free but there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. Music? Theatre? Circus? There is a place for everything on this very special night. I wrote a post dedicated to The Night of the Museums 2018 (2019 programme will be announced shortly) where you will find a list of our personal recommendations. Don’t miss it if you are in Barcelona on May 18th!
We stumbled across this group swing dancing at the National Art Museum last year so I recorded it for everyone to get a feel for the atmosphere of this special night.
Fira de Sant Ponç (11th May)
If you are into medicinal herbs and honey, you are in luck! Saint Ponç is the patron saint of herbalists and beekeepers whose feast day is May 11th. On that special day, El Raval neighbourhood gets filled with the herbal aromas coming out of more than 80 stalls lined up around L’Hospital street. This healthy tradition has been going on since medieval times and nowadays you can also find jam, preserved fruit, essential oils, and natural cosmetics.
Feria de Abril – April Fair (26th April to 5th May)
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 Gypsy 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.
Primavera Sound (30th May to 1st June)
One of the main music lovers dates in Barcelona’s calendar is the Primavera Sound Festival 2019. The programme is incredibly huge and the offering is quite varied so I am sure you will find something to your taste. Last year, the festival attracted more than 200,000 visitors and the numbers are expected to grow in 2019. So, if you don’t have your ticket, be sure you book as soon as possible.
16 different stages are located in Parc del Forum where pop-up restaurants and food trucks are ready to recharge your batteries in between concerts. Solange, Charlie CXC, Tame Impala, Future Islands, Rosalía, Interpol, Cardi B, Suede, Stereolab, James Blake… These are just the some of the artists on this year’s festival but you can also check the full line-up to find out who is playing and where.
Not all the activities of the festival take place around Parc del Forum. As part of the Primavera a la Ciutat programme, there will be four extra concerts at different parts of the city from April 27th to May 18th. It is all free so there are no excuses for not enjoying the live music without the expensive prices of the main festival. You can check who will be playing at Els Aperitius de Primavera Sound.
Ciutat Flamenco Festival (16th to 31st May)
Celebrating its 26th year in Barcelona, Ciutat Flamenco Festival not only showcases important names of the flamenco scene but also includes new artists and upcoming figures. These are very special concerts as they show the flamenco that doesn’t stick to tradition but looks for new and more experimental ways of bringing this art to the great public.
It takes place at different venues in Barcelona during May between the 16th and the 31st. There are many places to enjoy Flamenco music and dancing in the city (some good, some not so good) but if you want to enjoy Flamenco without the tourists, head to one of the festival’s concerts.
International New Rose Competition (10th to 12th May)
Never heard of a New rose competition? It is quite simple. A public competition for plant breeders that specialise in new species of roses. It showcases varieties never seen by the public before. This is a must-do for all flower lovers that takes place every May in Barcelona at Parc de Cervantes. There is a first prize for the best new rose of the show and also another one for the popular vote. The roses are the main protagonists here but there are also concerts by Barcelona’s Municipal Band, demos of floral Art, workshops and guided visits. A lovely way for all ages to spend the day surrounded by the scents and fragrances of spring!
Girona Flower Festival – “Temps de Flors” (11th to 19th May)
Girona is a beautiful city over an hour away from Barcelona. It is quite popular now with Games of Thrones fans that follow the famous series locations but the city is definitely worth a visit despite this modern trend. For a week during May, the streets and corners of the city are decorated with flower installations during the annual Flower Festival. This is definitely the best time to visit Girona! Not only can you see the city at its most beautiful but it is a grand opportunity to visit hidden courtyards and gardens that only open to the public for this special event.
Barcelona Weather in May
May in Barcelona is the month when it can get pleasant, warm, or even very hot. It doesn’t reach the heat of July and August but a heat wave at this time of the year is not unknown of. Bring a light jacket and jumper in case it gets not-so-warm after the sun sets but with temperatures ranging between 14ºC and 27ºC (57ºF to 80ºF), sandals and shorts are starting to come out of the closet.
Accommodation and queues
May is high season and the prices for accommodation will reflect this. There is no other way around it. For the same reason, queues at the main attractions could be long so, to avoid waiting, be sure you pre-book your tickets, especially at Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, or book one of our skip-the-line private tours in Barcelona. When booking make sure that you only use the attractions official websites (links included) instead of 3rd party sellers where you will have to pay an extra booking fee.
I hope this is helpful in planning your visit and you get to enjoy some of the special activities this month. Remember that you can still catch Barcelona’s April Fair that continues through to the first days in May. If you are in the mood for a fun and informative walk in the balmy weather of May, you can join our Barcelona Free Tours every day at 11 am and 4.30 pm. Also, don’t forget to check our comprehensive article on what to do in Barcelona all year round. Have a fantastic Spring visit to Barcelona!
Main photograph by Tina Teng
Hi! Thanks so much for all this info.
I will be in Barcelona in May 18h, so i’m planning to see La Pedrera and Camp Nou for free.
But i imagine these places will be super full. Is it possible to see both for free?
Or should i buy tickets to at least one of them and go another day ?
Gorka Regidor says
Last year (2018) both La Pedrera and Camp Nou offered a free entrance from 7pm to 1am during the Night of the Museums. It is very possible that they do it in 2019 again but they haven’t confirmed it and the program hasn’t been published yet.
Tickets for La Pedrera for this activity had to be booked on their website last year. They become available on May 7th and they sold out very quickly so my advice is to check their website regularly for updates.
We will update our article on The Night of The Museums as soon as the 2019 program is published. It is a magical night that I highly recommend although be prepared to wait in long queues for the most popular attractions.
Hello, will Parc de Cervantes be open for general public on the days of rose competitions?
Gorka Regidor says
Yes, it will. There are a few activities organised during the competition for the whole family. It is a great thing to do in Barcelona in May that I always recommend.