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October: what to do in Catalonia

Exhibits, scary movies, roasted chestnuts and human towers bring on the fall in the country


06 October 2018 03:53 PM


Rachel Bathgate | Barcelona

What’s ending this month

Make sure to catch these month-long events before they go away in October.

Exposición Turbulencias. Collección | CaixaForum

Turbulencias shows various contemporary artists who have "asked themselves" what the very nature of art is. Ending October 21, it features giants in the world of transgressive creation such as Bill Viola. 

Behind the Enigma | MNAC Barcelona

This exhibit ends October 14, and shows works by Ernst, Picasso and Brassaï and more, is the first international show dedicated to Gala Dalí, a muse to a generation of artists and, of course, Salvador Dalí himself. It includes over 40 pieces from the Dalí Foundation and from around the world, as well as personal effects. 

What’s on this month

Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival | Sitges| October 4-14

The Sitges Film Festival has established itself over decades as a referent for the fantastic, the sci-fi, and the horror. This year's edition pays tribute to women in the industry, as well as paying homage to Kubrick's classic '2001: A Space Odyssey' on its 50th birthday. Big names like Tilda Swinton, Nicolas Cage, and Peter Weir are set to attend. 

Barcelona Photo Biennale | Nau Bostik, Barcelona | October 4-20

Held in one of Barcelona's coolest warehouse spaces with a staggeringly large photo setup, the Biennial of Artistic and Documentary Photography is out to show new talent in the field, in its 4th edition since 2010.

Tarragona Human Towers Competition | Tarraco Arena Plaça, Tarragona|October 6-7

Arguably the largest and most relevant event for this time-old Catalan tradition, this event is held in the center of the activity itself. Here, teams from around the world and throughout the country strive to create the most complex and tallest structure – using only their bodies. 

Oktoberfest Barcelona | Plaça del Univers, Barcelona | October 6-14

What would October be without Oktoberfest? Barcelona has its own German beer celebration, one in which you can welcome the arrival of the fall. 

Choreoscope Dance Film Fest | Filmoteca de Catalunya, Barcelona | October 9-13

Dance and film merge in a beautiful artistic combination at Choreoscope, Catalonia's annual dance film festival held in Barcelona – a referent for the Mediterranean. This is the event's 6th year, and now for the first time offers 3D dance cinema. 

Independent Barcelona Coffee Festival | Espai 88, Barcelona | October 11-13

With colder weather, come warm drinks, and the opportunity to test out Barcelona's renowned third wave coffee movement. This is the third edition of the event, and it perfect for baristas and enthusiasts alike. And, of course, local food to complement the roasts.

Cruïlla de Tardor | Venues throughout Barcelona | October 14-November 1

Cruïlla sound familiar? It might not be the large summer festival you're thinking of, but it still brings big names to Barcelona – as an interim, to keep you going until festival season again. Expect big names like MGMT and Cat Power.

Barcelona 'Ciutat Oberta' Biennal | Throughout Barcelona | October 15-21

A thought biennial brings together conferences and talks on everything from Bach, to the refugee crisis, to philosophy. Check out the programming to find an inspiring event perfect for you. 

Human towers | Sants/Sagrada Familia neighborhoods, Barcelona | October 21

Did you miss the Tarragona human towers (called 'castells') – or do you want more? Feeling a celebration? Well, there will be two opportunities to see human towers in Barcelona – on the very same day. One, is the XVI anniversary of 'Castellers' of the Sagrada Familia on Carrer de la Marina – a picture-perfect opportunity for Barcelona. Another, right near the train station, is the XXVI 'Castellers' Day in the Sants neighborhood in the Plaça de Bonet i Muixí square. Both take place at noon.

HorrorMarket | Espai Jove La Fontana, Barcelona | October 21

Gearing up for Halloween? Well, look no further than Barcelona's Horrormarket, bring you everything spooky you need for a bargain.

48h Open House BCN | Throughout Barcelona | October 27-28

If you love architecture, Barcelona is not only known for modernism – it's on the cutting edge of the industry's movements, as well. Open House brings you into 150 different buildings throughout the Catalan capital to show you exactly how, as well as teaching you about the buildings' histories. 

Fires de Sant Narcís | Throughout Girona | October 26-November 4

In Catalonia, there's always a 'Festa Major' – a city-wide celebration – going on. End of October is the time of Girona, far up in the north. This, of course, means traditional dances of the 'sardana,' fire running 'correfocs,' music, and more!

Castanyada | Throughout Catalonia | October 31-November 1

This holiday was originally celebrated on All Saint's Day November 1 but has increasingly seen on October 31. This autumn festival is called 'castanyada' in Catalan, referring to the word for 'chestnut.' Roasted nuts are eaten, as well as special confections and baked sweet potatoes. Like many fall celebrations with pagan roots, it welcomes the oncoming winter and has connections to honoring ancestors. 


  • The 'dance of the eagle' at the Festes de Sant Narcís in Girona in 2017 (by Xavier Pi)

  • The 'dance of the eagle' at the Festes de Sant Narcís in Girona in 2017 (by Xavier Pi)