You know that you’re a veteran Barcelona resident when, instead of pink paper valentines and boxes of Russell Stover, February brings to mind the parades of Carnival, complete with gegants. Whether you’re a visitor, veteran, or new arrival, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of ignoring the other interesting offerings that February brings.
Barcelona celebrates its largest annual festival for children, the Festa de Santa Eulàlia, from February 9th until 12th. Santa “Laià”, as she is nicknamed, was martyred at the age of 13. The city programmes dozens of activities for kids. These activities include many Catalan traditions such as building human towers (castellers), dancing sardenes, story-telling, and the ever-popular correfocs (basically, fun, flammable mayhem in the form of a parade or “fire-run” that involves fireworks and dragon costumes). The festival focuses heavily on music, and local music schools and youth ensembles give performances around the city.
As Eulàlia’s feast day falls in the middle of the week this year, CosmoCaixa has programmed various children’s activities for the following weekend, on February 16th and 17th. Some of these include the exhibition Agua y Vida, subtitled Water is scarce and will be more so in the future. It includes a workshop that allows children to learn about the ecological mark that they make on the world. Sounds like a heavy topic for kids, but never fear—the workshop will be conducted by the Binéfar Puppeteers, a puppetry, animation and theatre group that has been around for over 35 years. Their penchant for educational entertainment won them the National Theatre Award for Children and Youth Ministry of Culture in 2009.
Last year, the Ajuntament started a new festival to coincide with La Laia called LlumBCN: Barcelona Lights Festival. Fantastic laser and light shows are projected on top of some of Barcelona’s historic buildings after sunset, including City Hall itself. While still kiddie-appropriate, this is certain to appeal to adults too.
The Chinese community celebrates the new lunar year on the 10th with the arrival of the Spring Festival, and the year of the snake. Though not widely recognised here, Chinese New Year is an important holiday, lasting a minimum of one week, and is marked with parades, feasts and fireworks in cities worldwide. As the local Chinese community grows, the tradition is taking root in Barcelona. Last year, a Chinese village was mounted at the Moll de la Fusta, and this year’s planned celebration is now in the works. As has become customary, the Shanghai 1930 restaurant mounts its own festivities (to be held on February 9th) with a parade, fireworks, a traditional menu and even highlights from Chinese opera.
For more purely adult centred entertainment, there’s the 14th Annual Banc Sabadell Festival Mil.lenni. This is one of Barcelona’s longest music festivals—it lasts half the year! This year’s fest kicked off in November 2012 with a Patti Smith concert, and continues with great performances until the end of May. Mil.leni boasts some serious diversity in its line-up of colourful musical acts from around the globe, with styles ranging from Flamenco to Noise Rock to Mexican Pop. There’s literally something for everyone. There’s even a bagpiper. No joke.
Three particular highlights for the month of February are Jethro Tull on February 6th at Palau de la Musica, Africa’s melodious Salif Keita on February 18th at the Sala Apolo, and indie poster child, The New Raemon at the Sala Apolo on February 23rd.
Ian Anderson is best known as the voice of legendary British prog-rock band Jethro Tull. Since the Seventies, the band and Anderson have released 30 albums with over 60 million copies sold. Their musical curiosity and willingness to experiment with various genres has made them icons of rock music, practically since their inception.
Salif Keita, equally prolific, is known as one of the “founders of Afro-Pop” for his mixture of West African Rhythms with other musical styles. His first album, Soro, in 1987, was followed by a string of records that demonstrate Keita to be a constantly evolving artist who has been pushing the musical envelope in and outside of Africa for forty years. His new album, Tale, was produced by Philippe Cohen Solal from Gotan Project.
Catalan indie rock frontman Ramón Rodríguez is better known as The New Raemon. He has only been making music for a decade, yet he and his band have managed to put out eleven albums and snare a rabid fan base. Not bad. Tinieblas, Por Fin is Ramon/Raemon’s fourth solo record, and is brimming with social themes, though phrased in such a way so as not to beat you over the head with personal politics.
Festa de Santa Eulàlia:
Binéfar Puppeteers: www.titiriteros.com
LlumBCN (Check on-line or call 010 for details. At the time of printing, the LlumBCN 2013 schedule had not yet been announced).
Festival Mil.leni: www.festival-millenni.com
Chinese New Year: www.casaasia.es; www.1930.es