Those who are looking for a different kind of holiday this year might want to do a short course in something totally new that's always seemed interesting or might want to improve an existing skill. In either case, why not spend some time in the summer doing a spot of studying?
BARCELONA COURSES IN CASTILIAN OR CATALAN
For those whose language skills are up to it, or who are looking to combine improving their Castilian or Catalan with studying something else (and meet local people who share a common interest), an ideal solution is to sign up for a summer class being taught in one of the two local languages.
Throughout July, the Universitat de Barcelona runs Els Juliols, a series of 20- to 30-hour courses, taking place either in the morning or afternoon, and each lasting for a week. Most of the courses are taught in Catalan, but there are also Els Juliols Linguae, which are all taught in Castilian. The range of courses is wide: although this year's programme wasn't available at the time of going to press, last year's edition included classes covering world music, sacred plants and how to create an internet business. Prices start at €140. www.ub.edu/juliols
For anyone who has a serious hankering to follow in the footsteps of Woody Allen and Isabel Coixet and make a film in Barcelona, the Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya (ESCAC) is holding a Summer School. The class will last for three weeks and run all day, five days a week. Taking place in the Sitges Design Centre and starting on June 29th, the course covers both theoretical and practical aspects of film-making such as script-writing, direction and production. Costs around €1,000 and the class size will range between 12 and 24. www.escac.es
BARCELONA COURSES IN ENGLISH
For anyone preferring to take a course in English, various classes are on offer.
The Istituto Europeo di Design, whose curriculum includes Design, Fashion, Visual Arts and Communication, is once again offering those of a creative frame of mind the chance to join its summer school. There are various courses running in Castilian, while in English, the classes are Accessory Design, Introduction to Exhibit Design, and Coolhunting and Fashion Trends. They last 100 hours, and run five hours a day each morning from July 6th to 31st. Generally speaking, anyone wanting to study these courses must have some existing knowledge and study in the relevant areas, but the school will consider applicants who don't have a related background. www.iedbcn.com
Based in Gràcia, Collage is a creative learning centre that has been running different workshops for all ages since 2005. While it has always organised summer courses for children (see below), this year it is also introducing classes for adults. Topics include creative writing led by US poet and writer Ed Smallfield, jewellery making and a puppet workshop with award-winning Norwegian artist Gina Thorstensen. Varied prices. www.collagebarcelona.com
Crisalus is an English-language cultural centre that offers a range of courses and one-off classes. Unlike most venues (and indeed much of the city), Crisalus won't be closing down in August, so for those who have to take their annual holidays in that month but aren't looking to go too far, this could be the place to head. The summer calendar includes a course on Mediterranean wines, a walking tour to study Modernist architecture and advice on how to trace your family tree. Varied prices. www.crisalus.com
Of course, some people may want to spend their free time improving their professional skills; the Barcelona Management Institute is holding a Summer Session aimed at university graduates and working professionals. Although the entire course runs for nine weeks, it's divided into three three-week modules and students can choose to do one, two or three of these. The topics are: ‘Entrepreneurship and Business Planning'; ‘Understanding Your Role in the World Economy'; and ‘Managing Yourself and Your Team in an Economic Crisis'. Each module is worth six credits under the ECTS scheme. Prices start at €1,500. www.barcelonami.org
Another option for those who have some free time this summer is to do an intensive language course, and brush up on their Castilian or Catalan. For information on schools running special courses in July and August, check our Marketplace section.
As well as venues within the city, there are plenty of places in other parts of Spain offering residential courses set amidst spectacular vistas, where it's possible to combine a break from Barcelona with interesting studies.
Down in the south of Spain, some two hours from Malaga, set in a natural park in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, is Cortijo Romero. This renovated farmhouse offers ‘alternative' holidays that focus on personal development as well as general interest themes. It's an ideal get-away-from-it-all destination: there is no radio, television or internet. Courses run eleven months of the year and the majority of them last for a week. This summer, the weekly workshops include ‘Bringing Your Dreams To Life', ‘Kick-start Your Creativity', and ‘Self-expression Through Writing'. Travel to Malaga by train (there is now a high-speed AVE service) or fly and be collected from a hotel near the airport by the organisers. Courses mentioned cost approximately €575 including food, accommodation and workshops. www.cortijo-romero.co.uk
The Old Olive Press is located in the mountain village of Relleu, about 30 kilometres from Alicante and 15 from the coast. The arts centre offers both a retreat for artists and writers looking for a space to get on with their own projects, as well as a place to take classes in a range of subjects, including photography, creative writing and walking. While the majority of their courses run in the spring and autumn, in June this year there are two courses: one in painting (13th–20th) and the other for aspiring writers (27th–July 4th). If that's too early, the next round of organised courses start on September 12th with a poetry prose week led by poet John Hartley Williams (during July and August, the venue is only available as a retreat). To get to Relleu by car, the A7 motorway goes almost all the way there (leave at junction 66, it's about 20 minutes drive inland). Alternatively, the Euromed train to Alicante takes about five hours and there are also direct flights. Those taking part on a course can be collected from the station or airport. The cost is approximately €590 including food, accommodation and classes. www.oldolivepress.com
Finally, if you prefer to go somewhere a bit closer to home, special interest holiday company Seven Day Wonder has a base in a renovated masia near Banyoles. Although there are no classes in the peak holiday season this year, in September two literary week-long courses are taking place: ‘Booklovers', to discuss various set texts; and ‘Outline your Novel', ideal both for budding writers who already have an idea and those seeking inspiration. The courses cost approximately €730-€780 including food, accommodation and tuition. www.7daywonder.com
Thanks to school summer holidays that last almost three months, parents here are well-customed to signing up their children to summer camps or casals d'estiu. Both Collage and Crisalus are running special classes for youngsters, as will nurseries and schools such as Noah's Ark (www.noahsark.es), Benjamin Franklin International School (www.bfischool.org), Kinder Espai Infantial (www.kinderbarcelona.org) and Blossom Kindergarten (www.blossom-kindergarten.com).