February is a great month to visit Barcelona, if you want to avoid the crowds. The evenings might be cold but there’s still warm sunshine in the afternoons and bright blue skies for wintery walks. If an average of 13/14 degrees during the day is still too chilly for you, don’t worry, as the inside attractions of the city are also much quieter than other months of the year.
February might be the shortest month of the year but you are not short on options of how to enjoy the city.
February Festivals in Barcelona
Chinese New Year 2019
Where: Arc de Triomf, Eixample neighbourhood
Barcelona has a huge community of Chinese immigrants which means that Chinese New Year has an appropriately large celebration. 2019 is the Year of the Pig; in Chinese culture the pig is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. This year, Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday 5th February however all the celebrations will take place on Saturday 2nd February.
As always the festivities will be around the Arc de Triomf area, located between the old town and the newer Eixample neighbourhood. From 11.30h there will be a dragon parade, starting in the Parc de l’Estació del Nord, which promises to be a fun and colourful display. Just a few steps from the park and in front of the Arc, there will be a food fair. A second parade will also take place on Avenida Paral·lel, closed especially for the event, in which special figures of Chinese and Catalan culture will appear.
Llum Festival 2019
When: 16th – 18th
Where: Poble Nou and Glories
This is the seventh year that Barcelona has presented this festival and it is a truly magical experience.
Poble Nou, or “New Town”, is an area of Barcelona that was originally filled with textile factories and surrounded by residential buildings. When this industry collapsed, the area suffered greatly, falling into a state of disrepair. Thankfully, as with many parts of Barcelona, it was the 1992 Olympics that saw some life brought back into this neighbourhood. Renovations, as well as bright and exciting ideas being trialed in the area, have revived the once ailing “barrio” and this year it will host the equally bright and exciting Llum Festival.
This festival focuses on the talent of artists from all over the world, as well as local students, to create immersive experiences with light. As night falls, Poble Nou will be ignited by lights of every colour, as well as areas with light projections set to music and sound (in particular around the Disseny Hub Barcelona (the Design Museum) which is an amazing building with fountains around the edge). This year’s featured artist, Monique Savoie, is the founder of the Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) of Montreal and will be showcasing a number of projects during the weekend.
With double the installations and shows, this seventh edition of the Llum festival should not be missed. To see a full program, please click here. The information is provided in English, Spanish and Catalan.
Santa Eulàlia Festival
When: 8th – 12th
Where: Around the city centre, mainly in the Gothic Quarter
Also known simply as the Winter Festival, the Festival of Santa Eulàlia celebrates Barcelona’s lesser known Patron Saint, Saint Eulàlia. Eulàlia was a thirteen year old girl who, during the 3rd Century AD, was punished by the Romans for refusing the recant her Christianity. The Romans decided to make an example of her, subjecting the young girl to thirteen tortures, one for each year of her life, eventually decapitating her. One story says that moments after her head was removed, doves flew out of her neck, signifying that God had blessed her. Interestingly, inside the Barcelona Cathedral, which is dedicated to Santa Eulàlia, thirteen white geese are kept in the beautiful cloister.
Highlights of the celebration include showcases of Catalan traditions, such as Castells (human towers), gegants, correfocs – you can find our full explanation of these traditions in our blog from September 2018 – and sardanas. A “sardana” is a traditional dance that involves precise footwork and timing; the steps might look easy but it’s hard to do this perfectly! If you’re not around the weekend of this winter festival, you can see sardanas every Sunday in front of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral, amongst other buildings (such as the Town Hall), opens its doors for free on February 12th, the official day of Santa Eulàlia, with the crypt under the Cathedral only opening on that special day. In the crypt you will find the ornate sarcophagus, carved in the 15th Century, which supposedly holds Eulàlia’s remains.
Calçots: A classic Catalan Dish
When: Saturdays & Sundays
Where: All around the city
Price: Varies from place to place, but a full menu will include: calçots, selection of meats, romesco sauce, bread, wine & water.
If you haven’t come across the term “celebrity vegetable”, we are not surprised! However, it is possibly the best way to describe calçots, a vegetable that is eaten with great enthusiasm across Cataluña when they are in season (November to April).
The calçot is a type of onion with a flavour somewhat similar to leeks. They are traditionally barbecued over an open flame until the outside layer of skin is blackened and the insides are soft; you then remove the burnt outer skin, dip the calçot in romesco sauce (traditional made with nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts, blended with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and other smoky delights) and lower it into your mouth from over your head.
Wherever you eat these, bibs and also usually gloves are provided, meaning this messy treat doesn’t spoil your clothes. People will usually eat 15 or so of these delicious things before the second course of the meal – that’s right, there’s a second course – which is a pile of grilled meats with bread and more romesco sauce.
Locals will buy all the ingredients and head out to the countryside in order to hold their own barbecues. If you’re on vacation, there are many restaurants across Barcelona that offer this treat, but if you want to really get into the spirit of the season, you should visit one of the street barbecues that take place almost every weekend in a different part of the city. In February, you will find a “calçotada” (the name for these barbecues) on:
- El Glop – various locations around the city
- El Jardí de l’Àpat – Carmell neighbourhood
- Can Travi Nou – Horta neighbourhood.