The one-stop Barcelona Easter guide

Ah, yes... Easter. The festival that many countries around the world celebrate, but don't really celebrate. There is an exception to the rule, of course, and that exception is Spain. As a country with strong Catholic roots, it's really no surprise that the event is still so important for the people. You can find large-scale parades across the country, but while the main celebrations in Barcelona are practically identical, it is the underlying culture and traditions that separate the city and region from the rest of Spain.

Read on through the article or click on one of the following to be taken to the section on local cultural traditions, typical food, things you can do, or opening hours for transport, shopping, and attractions. It's all right here.

Catalan Easter traditions

Vella QuaresmaLa Vella Quaresma (Old Woman Lent(

This slightly creepy and odd tradition is Catalan through and through. Literally meaning 'Old Woman Lent', Vella Quaresma is an old woman with 7 legs, each one representing a week remaining until the end of Lent and the start of Easter. During Lent it's prohibited to eat meat or eggs according to Catholic tradition, which is why she carries salted cod in her hands (or a basket of sardines) to remind children of this fact. Inside most schools during lent, meat is still served over the week, but Fridays are when you'll find fish on the menu. Kids are warned that "If you break these rules, Old Woman Lent will come and take you away!" Each week though, kids get to remove one of the legs, which only means one thing; it's one week closer to the Easter holidays!

Las monas de PascuaMona de Pascua (Snow White)

One of the main distinguishing factors of Easter in Catalonia when compared to the rest of Spain is the prominence of "Las monas de Pascua". This traditional rosca cake, which is adjourned with eggs, originated in the Catalonia, Valencia, and Baleares regions, but today can be found all over Spain. In all forms of the tradition, the Godfather gifts the Mona to his Godchildren on "Domingo de Pascua" the day before Easter Monday. Most of the tradition is identical in Catalonia, however, the actual Mona de Pascua itself has evolved beyond the original concept.

Far from being a simple cake, the Catalan version sees entire scenes artistically created from chocolate and other sweet delights. They are usually made to appeal to children, but there are Monas for all audiences, for example, there was even one based on a Catalan political sketch show called 'Polonia'.

If you want to see one of these fascinating creations for yourself, you'll be hard-pressed not to, as they'll be displayed in practically every cake shop window around the city. Even supermarkets sell mass-produced versions, although they're not half as good. The best place to catch a Mona de Pascua display is on Gran Via de las Corts Catalanes, where Escriba has their's every year. They are famous for making the biggest and most passionate Monas in Barcelona, so make a note to stop by number 546 and say hi to the team.

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Typical food for EasterBarcelona Easter Foods

If you're in Barcelona for Easter Week, you can take advantage of a few tasty offerings. It's a great time for fish-dish lovers, because on Good Friday, the few restaurants that remain open offer fantastic fish eats. Look around the maritime parts of Barcelona for the best offerings.

Not only that, if you have a sweet tooth then you'll want to try out Bunyols de Quaresmas, Catalonia's alternative to Spanish Torrijas. They are a sugary doughnut with a slight anis flavour. You can buy Bunyols in practically any decent bakery in Barcelona.

Finally, instead of Easter eggs, there are the aforementioned chocolate Monas de Pascua, which you'll get to eat on Easter Monday. Try to get one the week before to avoid any queues, and be aware that they usually start with prices from €30 depending on the amount of chocolate and craftsmanship involved.

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Barcelona Easter events

Palm SundayLa Borriquita - Palm Sunday Barcelona

This parade features a float that represents the triumphant return of Jesus to Jerusalem. It will be accompanied by an entourage of followers carrying palm leaves. You can pick a spot and watch it pass by, but the crowds aren't usually huge so at most points along the route you may even be able to walk alongside the procession.

Sant Augusti Church - Starts around 10 AM at the church before making a route roughly up Las Ramblas and back, returning at 12 PM.

Visit at: Plaça Sant Agustí, 2, 08001, Barcelona
Getting there: Liceu Metro Station (L3)

Alternative Palm Sunday celebrationPalm Sunday at Sant Josep de la Muntanya

If you're heading to Park Güell during the Easter week, why not go on Palm Sunday, because on the way you can get an insight into how locals celebrate the event. Get off at Lesseps Metro station and on the way to the park you'll run into the 'Sanctuary of Sant Josep de la Muntanya', a building designed by Gaudi's assistant; Francesc Berenguer with Miguel Pascual Tintorer.

Locals gather at 12 PM with their palms and laurel branches to get them blessed. You can watch as the children excitedly grab their palm leaves and smash them against the ground, trying to open them up to receive some of the sweets hidden inside! The father of the sanctuary then proceeds to pass through the crowd, throwing holy water over the palms and laurels. After the cheerful event, the gardens of this sanctuary open up for the locals to enjoy. You can take a stroll around these beautiful gardens open to the public only on this day, because usually it's where up to 150 children from this sanctuary's orphanage play.

While you're contemplating the pretty scenery, you can take a somber moment to reflect on the threat this escape for the orphans is under, because the local council is planning to open up the road due to an obsolete law that would make it slightly easier to reach Park Güell . Sadly parts of the orphanage gardens are simply in the way. Show your support for the orphanage as a tourist by joining in this special event!

Visit at: Avenida Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya, 25, 08024, Barcelona
Getting there: Lesseps (L3)

Good Friday'Our Lady of Sorrow' used in Good Friday Procession

A much more sombre affair than Palm Sunday, these processions represent three parts of the Passion of Christ. It's a much bigger event and it's not unusual to see tears falling across the cheeks of many devotees. It features members of brotherhoods from three churches sporting traditional hooded outfits called a 'Cucurulla'. They carry the floats trailed by a marching band. Usually a man or woman may stand in front of the float and begin to sing a traditional and passionate improvised song called a Saeta, which receives an "Olé" from the crowd upon closure. You'll need to pick a spot and watch the floats pass rather than follow behind. The best place to see all three is the square in front of Barcelona Cathedral.

Sant Augusti Church - Their float will be of 'Nuestro Padre Jesús del Gran Poder', which is of Jesus bearing the cross on his way to crucifixtion. It leaves at 5 PM and returns at 10:30 PM. Along the way it passes up a section of La Rambla and by the cathedral.

Visit at: Plaça Sant Agustí, 2, 08001, Barcelona
Getting there: Liceu Metro Station (L3)

Sant Jaume Church - They have a float of 'Nuestra Señora de la Angustias', which Mary carrying the body of Jesus, it leaves at 7 PM and returns at 11:30 PM. Along the way it passes in front of Barcelona Cathedral.

Visit at: Carrer de Ferran, 28, 08002, Barcelona
Getting there: Liceu Metro Station (L3)

Santa Anna Church - Not really a float, rather 'Santísimo Cristo de la Buena Muerte' is a large sculpture of Jesus on the cross. It leaves at 7 PM and returns at 11:30 PM, passing by Barcelona Cathedral.

Visit at: Carrer de Santa Anna, 29, 08002 Barcelona
Getting there: Catalunya Metro Station (L3) or Urquinaona Metro Station (L1, L4)

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Barcelona Easter opening hours

Though the rest of Spain celebrates Easter with public holidays from Thursday to Sunday (17th - 20th), in Catalonia the holidays go from Friday to Monday (18th - 21st), with Saturday and Sunday having everything run as it usually would.

ShoppingShopping

Stores will be closed on Good Friday (18th) and Easter Monday (21st). They will be open on Holy Saturday (19th), but expect lots of locals to be flocking to the grocery stores to stock up, and tourists to crowd the shopping centres and high-streets to get in some last minute shopping! If you find on Friday or Monday you are in desperate need of something, you can always visit OpenCor, which are open 365 days a year.

Getting around - Public transportCatalunya Metro in Barcelona

The opening hours for the Metro and FGC over Easter that are bolded below are slightly different:

  • Thursday 17th - 5 AM to 2 AM (normally until 12 AM)
  • Friday 18th - 5 AM to 2 AM
  • Saturday 19th - 5AM without closing
  • Sunday 20th - All day to 2 AM (normally until 12 AM)
  • Monday 21st - 5 AM to 12 AM

Buses will have a reduced schedule on the Good Friday (18th) and Easter Monday (21st). Also be aware that taxis will be charging the expensive tariff.

AttractionsBarcelona Attractions Easter

  • The Sagrada Familia traditionally celebrates a Mass on Palm Sunday, so you will not be able to enter unless you have an invitation. On their website it says visits will be not be possible between 9 AM and 3 PM. From the 13th to the 15th, parts of the building will be closed off to the public. So if possible, save your visit until after these dates.
  • Casa Batllo will be open from 9 AM and close at 2 PM on Palm Sunday (13th), not due to the date, but rather a "privately booked event".
  • The National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) is usually closed on Mondays, but will in fact be open on Easter Monday (21st).
  • Palau Guell is usually closed on Mondays, but is open on Easter Monday (21st).
  • Torre Bellesguard - a Gaudí gem that deserves much more attention - doesn't open on Sundays, but will be open on Good Friday (18th), Easter Saturday (19th), and Easter Monday (21st).

Other open attractions include Casa Milà, Park Güell , Barcelona Aquarium, and Camp Nou. If there is an attraction that you plan on visiting but isn't listed here or for any other information about Easter in Barcelona, then leave a comment or tweet @matthew_debnam with the hashtag #BCNEaster with your questions, and I'll be sure to get back to you!

Now go enjoy your Easter holidays in Barcelona!

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Apartment in Barcelona city (Eixample)

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Apartment in Barcelona city (Eixample)

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