Easter is one of the most important events in the Christian calendar. It is celebrated almost everywhere in the world. However, in Spain, it holds a special meaning given the nation’s illustrious Catholic past. The entire country breaks into a week of frolic and festivities. While Barcelona is no different in that regard from the rest of the country, the subplot of cultural individuality gives the city’s celebration of Easter its own flavor. From subtle naming differences to blatant discrepancies in practices, Barcelona’s way of celebrating Easter is quite novel. The one thing that stays intact, though, is the fun. If you find yourself in Barcelona during the Spring, you must get a taste of the Easter week.
Easter in Barcelona 2019
- Easter week in Barcelona will begin on Palm Sunday, 14th of April 2019.
- Along with the rest of Spain, Barcelona will celebrate Holy Thursday on 18th April and Good Friday on 19th April.
- 21st April is denoted as Easter Sunday and celebrations will continue until Easter Monday on 22nd April 2019.
Easter in Barcelona is marked with a number of processions. The most important of those processions take place on Sunday preceding the Easter Sunday. The procession, known as La Burreta, is held in commemoration of Jesus’s return to Jerusalem. Processions of smaller dimensions are also held in Barcelona on Good Friday.
Easter in Barcelona – Traditions and Festivities
The La Burreta parade transforms all of Barcelona in its wake. Every household puts olive or palm leaves outside its doors to ward off evil. The processions consist of religious floats and members of a brotherhood dressed in distinguishable robes with just eyeholes. The children wait for the procession with their palm leaves in the hope of having it blessed with holy water. These palms leaves were passed on to them by their godparents. At the end of the day, the leaves are left out to dry until Ash Wednesday. A day after Easter Sunday, the godparents give children a cake known as Mona de Pascua. Easter is also the time for indulgence in Barcelona. Bakeries across the city put up attractive chocolate window displays.
What’s Closed on Easter in Barcelona
For those wondering whether attractions in Barcelona are open through the Easter week, here's a quick summary of what remains open and what doesn't.
- For most of the attractions across the city, the timings remain the same.
- Sagrada Familia remains closed to the public on Palm Sunday on account of the mass.
- The Boqueria Market is closed on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday.
- Most of the shopping destinations except for the Maremagnum Shopping Centre will also remain closed for the aforementioned three days.
- Free museum Sundays are not applicable for Easter Sunday as well.
How to Celebrate Easter in Barcelona
1. Join the La Burreta on Palm Sunday
La Burreta is the procession that takes place on Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) across the city. The arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem is celebrated with this religious parade. It is especially a big occasion for the children of Barcelona, who wait with bated breath to get their palm leaves blessed. All the churches in the city have their own processions, and you can even join them if you wish to. However, if you want to choose a viewpoint to observe one of these lovely parades, we suggest you head to the Cathedral of Barcelona that brings out the largest procession of its kind in the city.
2. Watch the Processions of the Brotherhoods
The processions don’t just end on Palm Sunday. Viernes Santa (or Good Friday) also sees a number of parades through the city. If you are in Barcelona on this day, do not miss the processions of the brotherhoods. The brotherhoods are dedicated to various aspects of Easter and are of penitential nature. The brotherhoods were at times made of reformed criminals, alcoholics and drug addicts. Their processions are characterized by peculiar conical hats and robes that have historical connotations. The hats were used in the middle ages by sinners to hide their identity during processions for their shameful deed.
3. Join the Easter Mass at Sagrada Familia
Almost all churches in Barcelona hold Easter masses. You can participate in the Easter mass at Sagrada Familia both on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. All you have to do is to report at the church at 8:30 AM on the said day. There are limited seats available and entry is on a first come first served basis. Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church that is known for its striking architecture. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí and is still under construction. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with six other buildings in Barcelona conceptualized by Antoni Gaudí. The Easter mass at this marvelous structure should definitely be a part of your itinerary.
Recommended Sagrada Familia Experiences
While you're in Barcelona around Easter, why not visit Sagrada Familia and learn more about this Cathedral during the holy week? Here are a few recommended experiences.
4. Learn more about Spanish Easter Vibes at Poble Espanyol
As mentioned before, Barcelona’s way of celebrating Easter is a bit of a departure from the traditional Spanish custom. At Poble Espanyol, you get to experience the Spanish Easter at its rawest form. The eccentric and essentially Spanish alleys and squares are deck up to welcome the Easter week. With its callbacks to Spanish roots, Poble Espanyol creates a representation of Andalusian and Spanish Easter at the heart of Catalonia. The landscape, craftsmanship, and the artworks only add to your authentic experience.
Grab your Poble Espanyol tickets in advance online and skip the massive queues at the entrance.
5. Spend Easter with an edge at PortAventura World Espanyol
Easter in Barcelona is a great time to explore the attractions of the city. The PortAventura World is one of the top theme parks of its kind in Europe. Get into the spirit of festivities with a trip to PortAventura World during Easter. Experience the evening parade at the Mediterrània that brings together a number of artists to perform. You can enjoy an array of educational and adventurous shows at the park. If you are in the mood for some high-octane action, you can head over to the Ferrari Land. PortAventura World also has a few places to eat to your heart’s content. All in all, a PortAventura experience on Easter could set your tour apart
Read about the 3 parks at PortAventura World :
Recommended PortAventura Experiences
7. Visit the Barcelona Flower Festival in Montjuic Hill
De Flor en Flor is a flower and garden festival held at the Montjuic Hill every year during the Easter week. Set inside the aesthetically pleasing Poble Espanyol, this festival features exclusive workshops on urban gardens, bulbs, floral art, bonsais, orchids to name a few. There are around 20 different floral arrangements on display. For the ones with a competitive soul, there are painting contests. You can also enjoy live music at the venue. Painting exhibitions centered around the theme of horticulture are hosted during the festival. De Flor en Flor presents you with a laidback alternative to enjoy your Easter in Barcelona.
Why walk up the Montjuic Hill when you can take the cable car? Hop on the Montjuic Cable Car and experience terrific views of the Catalan jewel on your journey up.
7. Feel the Spanish festivity with a Flamenco Show
After spending the day watching church processions, parade of the brotherhoods etc, you may want to settle down with a beverage, a plate of tapas and relax. Choose a restaurant like Tablao de Carmen that lets you enjoy a show of Flamenco, a feisty Southern Spanish dance form and unwind. The setting at an authentic Flamenco bar is such that it resembles a village celebration. The performances are usually completed without resorting to microphones or speakers. During Easter, you are likely to find performances by famous Flamenco artists at local venues.
If you're interested in learning more about Flamenco shows in Barcelona, head here. Our guide will take you through the best and worst of Flamenco in the city.
Recommended Flamenco Experiences
8. Stroll by the Gothic Quarter for an alternate Easter
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is home to the Barcelona Cathedral, which sees the largest Easter procession. In case you are not inclined to be a part of the crowd that the procession brings, you could just explore this part of the city. The narrow alleys of the Gothic Quarter will transport you to a whole new world away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Slip into one of the beer bars in the neighborhood to understand the Bohemian roots of this place. Even the walls of these bars are like a canvas. If you are lucky, you could find a few antique stores open. The contents of these stores are not less than treasure. The Gothic Quarter can provide you with an alternative Easter experience that you are looking for.
9. Enjoy a picnic around Park Güell
Antoni Gaudí has blessed the city of Barcelona with several of his artistic creations. Park Güell is one of them, and it has grown to become a Barcelona essential. Built over a century ago, Park Güell offers a great view of the city indulging in Easter celebration. Pack a lunch basket and head to the Park Güell garden to enjoy a picnic in the warm Iberian sun. While at it, you can marvel at the idiosyncratic conceptions of Antoni Gaudí. The gatehouses are a clear callback to Hansel and Gretel’s folklore. The room of 100 columns is an unintentional wonder. The serpentine benches are the place to be if you want a view of Barcelona with the Mediterranean sea in the backdrop.
To know the difference between the Monumental Zone & Free Zone at Park Guell, read our guide to make the best of your visit.
Recommended Park Guell Experiences
While the picnic half of the park is free, why not pay a small amount and enter the preserved part of Park Guell? You can enjoy terrific views of the city from up here and witness some more of Gaudi's magic.
10. Meet Vella Quaresma in Barcelona
The Old Lady Lent or La Vella Quaresma is the graphical representation of the Lent period, observed between Ash Wednesday and the Holy Week. This is a period of strict self-discipline of penitential nature before Easter. The old lady is represented in various ways in different cultures. In Catalonian tradition, she carries a cod, a basket of vegetables, has seven legs, and as each week passes, one of her legs is said to be amputated. At the halfway point of Lent, the figure of the old lady is cut in two. Children go around the streets collecting money and food while sawing the old lady’s figure. It is a traditional aspect leading to Easter that has still survived despite the modernization. Enjoy this typical Barcelonian Easter tradition, something you won't see anywhere else.
Easter Dining in Barcelona
La Mona de Pascua
La Mona de Pascua is the traditional Easter cake that is prepared in Spain. The cake itself represents the end of Lent, while the eggs on it symbolize the progression of life. The decoration on the cake has many variations.
Pestiños are a delicate Spanish cookie that is an important part of the Easter week. The dough is deep fried in olive oil and then glazed with sugar and honey. There are some variations where the dough is flavored with sesame seeds.
Another essential Easter sweet dish, Torrijas were known to have originated in the early 17th century. Thick pieces of bread are soaked in milk and egg, deep fried in olive oil, and then served with honey and sugar.
Weather during Easter in Barcelona
Barcelona is in the thick of Spring during the Easter week. This time of the year is characterized by clear skies and about 9 hours of consistent daylight. This is a great time to get an aerial view of Barcelona from an observation deck. The city experiences an average high of 17 °C and an average low of 8°C during the Easter week. As such, this is the ideal time to take a dip at the sea or sunbathe at the beach. There is a very small chance of rain during the week. Humidity is quite high during the Easter week in Barcelona. There is also a moderate breeze throughout the week making it a bit chilly after sundown.
Tips for Visiting Barcelona During Easter
- Beware of the crowd in Barcelona during Easter. Although this is supposed to be shoulder season, a lot of tourists flock to the city during the Easter weekend.
- Do not forget to make advance bookings, be it for the attractions in the city or for accommodations. Failing that, not only will you end up paying dearly, but the wait times will also frustrate you.
- Check the opening times of the attractions before you head out for an impromptu visit. Timing may be altered on short notice on account of the festivity.
- Make sure you get a transport pass upon arriving in the city. Some passes provide unlimited public transport access. It can be helpful if you plan to move from one part of the city to another during the busy holiday period. For traveling with Barcelona, the Hola BCN Card is highly recommended.
- Choose a centrally located hotel to stay during the period if you are planning to see the procession.
- Pack a few warm garments as the evenings bring a slight chill. You also must carry and use plenty of sunblocks especially if you are going to spend time outdoors following the parades.