La Diada holiday
Autumn holidays in Barcelona coincide with the La Diada festival on 11th September. A potent symbol of Catalan nationalism, the holiday marks the fall of Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. La Diada is celebrated with floral tributes, concerts, parades and a flurry of red and yellow Catalan flags waving from every window. You might also see spontaneous demonstrations of the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance performed in a circle.
The summer holiday season doesn’t officially end until 15th September in Barcelona, so make the most of that late-summer sunshine. Stretching north from Barceloneta to Poble Nou, the string of beach bars known as chiringuitos stay open into October. Top up your tan for winter, and enjoy the beach bars’ heady mix of music, drinks and food. It might be too chilly to hit the beach as October progresses, but the mild, sunny weather is perfect for shopping, museum browsing and exploring Barcelona on foot – the best way to tour the city.
Festes de la Mercè
Barcelona’s biggest street party of the year takes place over four days, focusing on 24th September, a public holiday. It’s the most festive time to book an autumn hotel in Barcelona, with synchronised fireworks, music displays at the Montjuïc fountains and special events for children. Best of all, this is when to see the parade of giants and the ‘fire run’ (correfoc), where dragons and devils create fiery displays as they run through the crowds. The festivities focus on Plaça de Sant Jaume and Plaça de la Mercè in the Gothic Quarter.
International jazz festival
Musicians and jazz fans from around the world come to Barcelona in late October for the international jazz festival. Featuring a range of styles and performers, from flamenco jazz to hard bop and fusion, the festival’s programme of shows are hosted in venues that are an attraction in themselves. One such architectural highlight is the Palau de la Música Catalana, one of Barcelona’s World Heritage-listed Modernista jewels.