Barcelona teems with stages hosting all manner of entertainment from underground cabaret and comic opera to high drama. Dance companies are thick on the ground and popular local theatre companies, when not touring the rest of Spain, keep folks strapped to their seats.
Almost every big international act has passed through Barcelona at some point, more often than not playing at Razzmatazz, Bikini, Sala Apolo or BARTS, although there are a number of other decent midsize venues. There are also abundant local gigs in institutions as diverse as CaixaForum, La Pedrera and L’Ateneu.
Classical Music & Opera
Barcelona is blessed with a fine line-up of theatres for grand performances of classical music, opera and more. The two historic – and iconic – music venues are the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Palau de la Música Catalana, while the L’Auditori is the modern concert hall par excellence and home to the city's orchestra, the OBC.
The main season for classical music and opera runs from September to June, while in high summer you might find outdoor festivals or performances around town. Check with the tourist office for details.
Some fine local contemporary dance companies, along with international visiting companies from time to time, maintain a fairly busy performance program across town. Look for leaflets at Palau de la Virreina and watch theatre listings. For ballet and other big spectacles, you need to wait for acts to arrive from abroad.
Seeing good performances of this essentially Andalucian dance and music is not easy. The few tablaos are touristy and often tacky. You can catch flamenco on Friday and Saturday nights at the JazzSí Club; also watch out for big-name performers at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
The Festival de Flamenco de Ciutat Vella (www.ciutatflamenco.com) is held in May. A series of concerts can be seen, usually from April to July, as part of the Barcelona Guitar Festival (www.guitarbcn.com).
In Barcelona the best chance you have of seeing people dancing the sardana (Catalonia's national folk dance) is either at 6pm Saturday or noon Sunday in front of La Catedral, or during festivals like La Mercè. It is also performed sometimes in Plaça de Sant Jaume. For more information, contact the Agrupació Cultural Folklòrica de Barcelona (https://acfbarcelona.cat).
Most local theatre is performed in Catalan or Spanish, although physical theatre such as that performed by local group La Fura dels Baus is popular too.
Outdoor cinema screens are set up in summer in the moat of the Castell de Montjuïc (www.salamontjuic.org), on the beach and in the Fòrum. Foreign films with subtitles and original soundtracks are marked ‘VO’ (versió original) in movie listings.
Football in Barcelona has the aura of religion, and for much of the city’s population, support of FC Barcelona is an article of faith. But the city has another hardy (if less illustrious) side, RCD Espanyol. FC Barcelona is traditionally associated with the Catalans and even Catalan nationalism, while Espanyol is often identified with Spanish immigrants from other parts of the country.
A match at Barça's Camp Nou can be breathtaking; the season runs from August to May, and tickets can be bought at www.fcbarcelona.com or FC Botiga. If you can't make it to see Barça play, a trip to the multimedia museum with a tour through the locker room and out on to the field is a good secondary option.
Barcelona's long enticing seafront makes a fine setting for a ride, and the bike lane separate from traffic and pedestrians ensures you can get going at a good clip (though you'll have to move slowly at peak times, like on summer weekends).
The city itself has an extensive network of bike lanes, including lanes along Passeig de Sant Joan, Carrer del Consell de Cent, Avinguda Diagonal and Ronda de Sant Pau/Carrer del Comte d'Urgell, among other major streets. Avid mountain bikers will want to make their way up to the vast Parc de Collserola, where rambling trails on a wooded massif overlook the city.
Need to Know
The easiest way to get hold of entradas (tickets) for most venues throughout the city is through Ticketea (www.ticketea.com) or Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.es). Occasionally there are discounted tickets to be had on www.atrapalo.com.
- For exhibitions and other forms of entertainment, see www.barcelona-metropolitan.com or www.timeout.cat; for free activities, check out www.forfree.cat.
- The Palau de la Virreina cultural information office has oodles of information on theatre, opera, classical music and more.
- Good coverage of classical music is to be found on www.classictic.com.