With spring comes the start of warm weather following the winter, although it is often still a bit chilly, especially in the mornings and evenings, so don't forget to bring at least a light-weight jacket with you. As Barcelona comes back to life after the short days of winter, it's an ideal time to visit the city—the crowds are less than in high season meaning it's much easier to visit the key tourist sights as well as to truly appreciate some of the less well-known parts of Barcelona. In addition, this time sees some of the most important traditions in the local calendar taking place.
Holy Week: Setmana Santa (in Catalan, Semana Santa in Castilian) is not celebrated with the same religious fervour as in the south of Spain in Catalunya, but the region has its own Easter traditions, particularly the giving of mones (pron. mon-ahs) to children. These were originally round dounghnut-shaped cakes baked by godparents to give their godchildren on Easter Monday, with an unpeeled egg for every year of the child's age baked into the pastry. However, nowadays, tastes have changed and the mona tends to be an elaborate (and costly) chocolate creation featuring players from FC Barcelona, Disney characters or the ubiquitous Hello Kitty.
Sant Jordi: This is the patron saint of Catalunya (and of England too—Sant Jordi in English is Saint George) and his feast-day, April 23rd, is often cited by residents as one of their favourites, even though it isn't a public holiday. It is the official day of love in Catalunya (Valentine's Day causes hardly a stir here), which sees men present their lover with a rose and women reciprocating with a book. The streets of the city (and in towns and cities across Catalunya) are filled with stalls selling books and roses for you to browse and buy, if you're feeling in a romantic mood.
Festival de Guitarra: Barcelona’s annual guitar festival starts in April and packs a two-month programme with all genres and a fair amount of big names as well as rising stars. Check www.theproject.cat for the programme and a chance to see everything from Spanish guitar to American jazz players.
El Feile: The annual Irish culture festival takes place mid-March. Great opportunity to hear Irish bands and comedians for a lower price than you’d pay in their native country.
Sant Ponç: Every year on May 11th, Barcelona celebrates Sant Ponç, patron saint of beekeepers and herbalists. An extensive outdoor market on Carrer d’Hospital offers multiple flavours of honeys, beeswax candles, herbs, candied fruit and perfumes.
Feria de Abril de Catalunya: From the end of April until the first week of May, Barcelona’s version of Southern Spain’s famous Feria de Abril is considerably calmer. But there is still plenty to see and do and eat—traditional sevillanas dance performances, carnival rides, concerts and lots of candy floss and tapas. A definite highlight are the casetas, tents set up by different local groups where everyone is welcome to join the party.
La Tamborinada (for children): Held every year in May in the Parc de la Ciutadella (Metro: Arc de Triomf, L1) Music, theatre performances, parades, games, clowns and lots of food stands make the festival a fun stop for all ages.
International Rose Competition: For three days every May, the Parc Cervantes (Avinguda Diagonal 708-716; Metro: Zona Universitària, L3) plays host to Barcelona's competition for roses of all colours, size and variety from around the world. As well as the blooms that are part of the official contest, there are examples of past winners and classes in flower arranging for those inspired by what they see.