Nightlife and Performing Arts Planner
Nightlife and Performing Arts Planner
Daily events in the performing arts scene generally revolve around 9 pm concerts and theater and dance performances. On weekends, drinks are enjoyed with light bites and often extend past dinnertime, which is a stomach-churning 10 pm. And then, sometime after 1 or 2 in the morning, the real nightlife kicks in.
Tickets for performances are available either at the theater (ticket offices generally open only in the evenings) or via web services such as Ticketea (www.ticketea.com) and Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.es)—both have English-language options. After ordering your seats and giving credit-card information, you pick up tickets at the door of the venue or print them out in advance. Ticketmaster uses the ATMs of local bank La Caixa, which print the tickets for you. If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, FNAC on Plaça de Catalunya has an office on the ground floor that sells tickets to many pop and rock performances.
Top Five Nightlife Experiences
Musical performances at stunning venues; Palau de la Música Catalana and Liceu, among others
Wednesday eve jazz sessions at the chichi Banker Bar at the Mandarin Oriental
Sunday night indie film viewing at CinesVerdi (or nearby annexe Verdi Park) in bohemian Gràcia
Dancing til the wee hours at the upscale seaside clubs of Port Olimpic
Witnessing sensational beachfront views at the Eclipse Bar on the 26th floor of the ultraluxe W Barcelona
What to Wear
Dress codes in Barcelona are eclectic, elastic, and casual, but never sloppy. Although there are rarely hard-and-fast rules at elegant restaurants or concert venues, tourists in shorts, tank tops, and baseball caps will feel out of place. Discos are another kettle of fish: uptown or at the seaside venues, autocratic bouncers may inspect aspiring clients carefully. (Read: the better you dress, the better your chance of getting in.) The Liceu Opera House often has black-tie evening galas, and although tourists are not expected to go out and rent tuxedos, a coat with lapels (necktie optional) blends better. The Palau de la Música Catalana and the Auditori are less formal than the Liceu, but a modicum of care with one's appearance is expected.
Where to Get Information
To find out what's on (in Spanish or Catalan), check "Ocio y cultura" listings in Barcelona's leading daily newspapers online versions: La Vanguardia, www.lavanguardia.com) and El Periódico (www.elperiodico.com) or the weekly English-language edition of TimeOut, (www.timeout.com/barcelona). Weekly online magazine options (available in English) include curated events and activities at Le Cool barcelona.lecool.com, Barcelona Metropolitan magazine, which updates their online "what’s on" section regularly, features a monthly print version, and is available free in English-language bookstores and hotel lobbies (www.barcelona-metropolitan.com). Barcelona city hall’s culture website (barcelonacultura.bcn.cat) also publishes complete English edition of listings and highlights. A nose and ear to the ground is the best way to find out about rock and pop gigs—look out for posters and flyers as you explore the city.
Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM). Held over a week toward late September, this musical celebration forms part of the lively La Mercé festival, an annual event honoring Our Lady of Mercy, Barcelona's patron saint. BAM showcases emerging talent (both national and international) in dance, rock, pop and electronic genres; acts perform concerts in parks, squares, and venues around the city. 93/301–7775; www.barcelona.cat/bam.
Festival Ciutat Flamenco. Held annually in May this lively festival, co-organized by the Taller de Músics (Musicians' Workshop) and the Mercat de les Flors, offers visitors a chance to experience authentic flamenco instrumental, song and dance performances by both local and international artists. It provides an excellent opportunity to skip the often disappointing tourist fare available at most of the typical flamenco dinner-and-show venues around town. Mercat de les Flors, Carrer de Lleida 79, Poble Sec, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08004. 93/443--4346; 93/426--1875; www.ciutatflamenco.com.
Grec. Barcelona's month-long summer arts festival (late June–July) features acts from the world of dance, performance art, music and theater. Performances take place in such historic venues as Mercat de les Flors and the Teatre Grec on Montjuic–-an open-air theater built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, which gives the festival its name and serves as the main venue. Barcelona, Catalonia. 93/316–1000; www.bcn.cat/grec.
Guitar Bcn. Held between mid-February and late July, this annual festival features concerts in the Palau de la Música Catalana and other venues by master guitarists of all musical genres and styles. Folk, jazz, classical, and flamenco are all well represented. 93/301–7775; www.theproject.es/en/f-75/GUITAR-BCN.
International Jazz Festival. One of Europe's oldest jazz festivals, this festive musical gathering takes place from late September to early December, with concerts all around the city in illustrous venues like the Palau de la Musica, L'Auditori, and smoky sidestreet bars such as the Harlem Jazz Club. Highlights include vocal and instrumental jazz renditions from around the globe. 93/481–7040; www.barcelonajazzfestival.com.
Primavera Sound. From its modest beginnings at the architectural miniature museum, Poble Espanyol, this event has evolved into one of the biggest and most exciting music festivals in Spain, attracting more than 100,000 visitors a year. Concerts are organized in small venues around the city during the weeks leading up to the event, but the main stint takes place over four days in late May or early June at the Parc del Fòrum. Everybody who's anybody—from veteran NIN to on-the-rise The National—has played here, and you can rest assured that whoever is doing the big festival circuit this summer will pass through Primavera Sound. Full-festival tickets can be bought online. Parc del Fòrum, Poblenou, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08019. www.primaverasound.com.
Sónar. For more than a decade, Sónar has grown from a niche festival for electronic and dance music fans to one of Barcelona's largest and most celebrated happenings. Over three days in mid-June, thousands descend upon the city, turning Plaça Espanya—the site of the festival's principal venues—into a huge rave. The celebration is divided into "Day" and "Night" activities. Sónar by Day sees sets by international DJs, record fairs, and digital-art exhibits at the Fira Montjuic. Sónar by Night takes place in the Fira Gran Via Hospitalet for acts on the forefront of the dance music scene like Skrillex, Die Antwoord, and old school favorite The Chemical Brothers. Tickets are best snapped up early via the festival website. www.sonar.es.