Barcelona residents are always ready for an excuse to party, so the city celebrates a number of traditional festivals to do the trick. While each "festa" is thrown for a different reason, be it a patron saint, regional/national holiday or other religious event, most Barcelona festivals share the same awesome characteristics. You can count on parades, fireworks, dancing, costumes, music and, well, a bit of good-old debauchery. If you're planning a trip to Barcelona, it wouldn't be a bad idea to try to coincide with any one of the fantastic celebrations listed below. On the other hand, there's at least one festival every month, so your chances of catching one are pretty high!
La Mercè - the patroness of Barcelona - gives rise to the most highly anticipated festival by far.
Additionally, every neighborhood has its own patron saint and corresponding day of celebration. The Festa Major of Gràcia is the most notable of these. Visitors and natives of Barcelona alike are swept up into the streets for massive street parties on the most raucous of Barcelona festivals.
All across Spain, holidays are taken seriously as a time NOT to work. Very few offices stay open, and residents readily take advantage by having big comidas (lunches), cenas (dinners), going out day & night to bars, parks and plazas, or taking out a trip out of the city.
When there is a public holiday in Barcelona, pretty much all stores close, so don't count on shopping as an activity. The big department stores, however, such as El Corte Inglés and FNAC, may open with modified hours, depending on the holiday. Museums may remain open on less important holidays as well, or with modified hours. (See the Barcelona museums page for each museum's contact information).