What is Barcelona like to visit in June?
The summer is the start of festival season, making Barcelona Province buzz with activity. June is a superb month to be here because it is still not very crowded for most of the month. The hoards tend to arrive at the end of July/August when many Spanish companies close for the holidays. You can still get a table in any of the excellent restaurants, and the beaches are not yet a sea of colourful parasols.
This year, we have had tons of rain already. The surrounding area has had a good drink of water, so it is greener and healthier than usual. Now, the sun is well and truly out, and the temperature is up. This time of year usually gives us great beach weather, but it´s still cool at night.
In Barcelona city, one of the biggest festival events each year is the “Nit de St Joan” which is on 23-24 June. The festival honours both the birth of St. John the Baptist and the Summer Solstice. This festival does bring in the crowds with around 70,000 people in the city for the weekend.
It´s like Bonfire Night and New Year´s Eve rolled into one. Beach bonfires are lit, fireworks are everywhere and an epic street party rocks until the small hours. Revellers often opt for a midnight swim, an age-old custom to represent a ¨Baptismal cleanse¨ (or just to have some fun after a few glasses of cava!). Sitges and Castelldefels have their own smaller versions of the party for those who don´t want to be among so many people in the city.
Music is in everyone´s minds as June is also the start of the music festival season. Primavera (Spring) Sound is a rock and pop festival at the beginning of June – in its 19th year – with open-air concert stages popping up all over the city. The middle of the month also gives us Sonar – a DJ festival, again offering a chance to dance in the city´s squares.
Live appearances by some very well known artists are happening this month at the Festival Jardins de Pedrables. We will see Simple Minds, Elvis Costello, Emili Sande, and it´s not unusual for us to have another visit from Tom Jones! Shakira is playing at the Palau St. Jordi. There are often free concerts in the main square at the fascinating miniature village of Poble Espanyol. This, in itself, is worth visiting to see the small version of Spain´s (architectural) greatest hits.
At the end of the month is the Gay Pride Parade and festival in Barcelona. A smaller version of this festival has already happened in Sitges. This is a very friendly occasion with several days of free music events, and the opportunity to dress up in wacky costumes for the parade.
For a real Catalan experience, go and see the Castellers. This month several of the nearby towns of St Pere de Ribes or Sant Cugat are hosting the ¨human tower¨ competitions which run nearly all year. Try not to think about ¨health and safety¨ while you watch a brave five year old child scamper to the top of up to 5 levels of people!