What to do in October in Barcelona?
For those who are still looking for some sunny days, but with cooler temperatures, October is the perfect month to visit Barcelona. There are many autumnal activities taking place and there is still plenty to do for those who are not ready to let go of summer just yet. Another advantage of visiting the city in October is it is far less busy and crowded.
Activities and events in October in Barcelona
Bank holidays in October in Barcelona
National Day of Spain
The 12th of October is the National Day of Spain. On this day the people of Spain commemorate the country’s history and its achievements. The chosen date symbolises the historical anniversary of the start of a period of linguistic and cultural projection beyond Europe. Moreover, it commemorates the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, which enabled Spain’s influence to extend elsewhere.
Therefore, this day is not only celebrated by the Spanish people, but also by Hispanic people all over the world for its celebration of Hispanic diversity, common heritage and cultural ties between different countries. Catalonia, however, is one of the regions that does not celebrate this day the same way they do other celebrations. Although it is generally a celebratory day, the history is controversial, so it is likely to see demonstrations throughout the city as well.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of activities and events to attend. In Madrid, the celebration of this day is far more extensive, even including the royal family, and is celebrated with events like a military parade.
Barcelona International Community Day
On the 28th of October the annual Community Day will take place. It is the meeting point for Barcelona’s international talent ecosystem. The day will be filled with many different activities, workshops and conferences. There will also be a trade fair with businesses, organizations and associations connected to the international community.
Admission is free for those with advance registration. This is the ideal event to attend if you are interested in finding out more about life in Barcelona as an international, such as information about new work, daily life, and so much more!
Halloween & Castanyada
La Castanyada, a traditional Catalan celebration, is frequently referred to as the ‘Catalan Halloween’ nowadays; however, historically this holiday serves to not only honour the dead, but also mark the end of summer and beginning of winter. La Castanyada is closely tied to the Catholic holiday of All Saints’ Day (Dia de Todos Los Santos) on November 1st, when Catholics honour the dead. In Spain, people put flowers on the graves of the loved ones that have passed and attend a church service in their honour. Since this is a national public holiday, most shops will be closed. For those that are interested in knowing more about this day, one can visit the cemetery museum at Montjuïc.
For La Castanyada, the people traditionally ring bells throughout the night of October 31st to honour their dead, a tradition that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Then, the following day of November 1st, the ‘official’ day of La Castanyada, they would celebrate by eating all sorts of traditional foods, mainly sweets.
The foods consumed can vary by region, but some of the most popular ones in Catalonia include castanyes (roasted chestnuts), roasted sweet potatoes (moniatos), and panellets (marzipan balls, often with pinenuts), which can be found all over the city from October through December, but on the 31st of October, you will have to queue up, since every family will be a batch of the treats for the traditional Castanyada.
A sweet wine, like Moscatel, often accompanies these sweets.
However, the ‘American Halloween’ is becoming increasingly popular in Barcelona. Kids and adults alike can dress up for costume parties and/or do fun Halloween activities, like trick or treating.
Others may opt for Barcelona’s infamous nightlife and visit cosutme-themed clubs such as Opium, Sala Apolo, Shoko and more, which throw their very own Halloween edition parties. For those who might not want to go out, but still want to join in on the spooky fun, there are many ghost tours around the city that will inevitably leave you being spooked. For the Halloween fanatics, there are also spooky scavenger hunts that are a really fun way of exploring the city some more.
Fun festivities in October in Barcelona
Festa Major de Sarrià
In the first week of October the neighborhood of Sarrià comes together to organize the festival of Sarrià, a festivity certainly worth attending. Everyone takes part by decorating their balconies and building façades. There are community dinners around the streets of the historical center, and of course there is a parade with giants and other special figures. This celebration is a way for the people of Sarrià to affirm their identity, seeing as it was not officially recognized as a part of Barcelona for a long time. The Festa Major is held in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. From musical parades to competitions and fire spectacles, there is plenty to see and do for people of all ages.
Festes del Roser (La Rambla en Flor)
On the day of the Mare de Deu del Roser (Our Lady of the Rosary) Festes del Roser, also known as Festa Major de la Rambla is celebrated. This celebration dates back to 1962 and is known to many as the flower festival, since you will see flowers everywhere around the city. In honor of this celebration, free access to places such as Palau Guell, Paula Moja and Gran Teatre del Liceu is given to everyone. Some particularly beautiful buildings to check out are: Museu Marítim, Arts Santa Mònica, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Palau de la Virreina and the Columbus monument.
Festes Major de les Corts
This festivity has already been around for 216 years, and takes place on the second weekend of October to celebrate ‘Our Lady of Remedies.’ It is believed that she helps with birth and pregnancy. For example, one tradition you may see is pregnant women with a silk ribbon. Culture, music, poetry and an array of wonderful activities make this festivity an amazing celebration for the neighborhood of Les Corts.
Tradition is very valuable to the Catalan people; however, this festivity has a modern touch, which is representative of the neighborhood’s cultural diversity. If you do not want to miss out on any of the celebrations, then make sure to visit the three squares: Can Roses, Comas and Concòrdia. As with many Catalan celebrations, it centers around a parade and the giants. The festivity begins with a big bonfire, after which a parade and a wide range of activities follows.
Barcelona Jazz Festival
The Barcelona Jazz Festival is the oldest musical event in the city with over 50 editions. This festival lights up the city’s sparkle with live music everywhere for several months! This year the festival is going through the end of December, so don’t miss out on attending one of the most astounding musical events! Musicians from all over the world join in on the festival and share many different types of jazz music. Aside from live performances, there are also lectures and master classes to attend.
Sitges Film Festival
This amazing festival has already been taking place since 1968 and is known to be one of the most recognisable film festivals in Europe. It is an essential rendezvous for movie lovers. Not only will you be able to attend the screening of some of the best, most interesting films, there will also be an array of presentations, projections and exhibitions to attend. The festival is qualified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood and has been attended by big stars such as Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Jodie Foster and many more. Tickets to one of the screenings or presentations can be bought on the website.
Just because it is not a Spanish celebration does not mean that the Spanish people don’t join in on the fun! Oktoberfest is one of the largest beer festivals in the world. In Barcelona, it is celebrated exactly like in Germany; in a large tent with traditional German food, music and beer. It is the perfect event to attend with a large group of friends. This year, the event takes place from the 4th until the 15th of October, so there is enough time for everyone to enjoy this lovely German festivity.
As you might already know by now, food is incredibly important to Catalan culture. In Autumn, there are several meals and ingredients consumed and prepared specifically during these colder months. One such ingredient is called ‘bolets,’ also known as wild mushrooms. While they can be quite expensive, you are able to find them on many local restaurant menus this time of year.
Mercat de Mercats
This annual food fair is something you should not miss out on, and takes place in front of the cathedral of Barcelona. It is one of the largest gastronomical events in Barcelona, showcasing all of Catalonia’s best food. There are an unbelievable range of tapas available. There are 54 market stalls, run by local farmers, wine makers, restaurants and bars. There are also cooking classes for those interested in learning more about the dishes that are served at the event.