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October: What to do in Catalonia

Film festivals, theatre festivals, and the biggest football game in the world - October is packed with things to do in Catalonia


30 September 2019 05:52 PM


Cillian Shields | Barcelona

Fantasy & Horror Film Festival | Sitges | Oct 3-13

One of the biggest cultural events in all of Catalonia, the world-renowned Sitges Fantasy & Horror is back with another stellar lineup for 2019. This year sees some of the biggest releases in the genres of the year show in the seaside town south of Barcelona, such as Color Out of Space starring Nicholas Cage and based on a short story by the legendary H.P. Lovecraft, The Lighthouse with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, and Verotika, the directorial debut of Misfits horror punk vocalist, Glenn Danzig, which has been compared to both The Room but also the vampiric works of Jean Rollins.

The 52nd edition of the festival will also see guest appearances from film legends such as Sam Neill, Aaron Paul, and Asia Argento among others.

Temporada Alta | Girona | October-December

One of the world’s best theatre and drama festivals returns to northern Catalonia this month, with a packed programme lasting all the way to December. The 28th Temporada Alta festival in Girona and nearby town of Salt begins in earnest on October 10th and lasts through to December. 

If this is your first foray into the world of theatre, there’s no better place to start than in one of the reference points for performing arts across the globe. The festival even offers newcomers or undecideds advice on which show to attend, if you email them some details about yourself and your preferences. 

Barcelona short film festival | Zumzeig Cinema | Oct 6-7

Zumzeig Cinema hosts the 2019 International Short Film and Video Festival for two days of exceptional storytelling, coming in a diverse array of movies, from narrative to documentary, and even animation and experimental too. Tickets can be bought for one of three showings across the two days for only $3.40, and all films not in English will have English subtitles.

The venue itself, Zumzeig Cinema, is an independent and non-profit organisation, and the first co-operative cinema in Catalonia. This year they’ve put out a call for more women and non-binary filmmakers to submit their works for consideration in the festival, as they feel these groups are underrepresented in film festivals.

Barcelona Jazz Festival | Various venues | Oct 18-Feb 28

The most important jazz festival of its kind in the world brings some of the biggest and most exciting names in jazz to the Catalan capital once more, for another packed programme of world-class music. Herbie Hancock (October 26), Rafael Riqueni (October 24), and Las Migas (October 30) are among this month’s highlights.

Andrea Motis is this year’s ‘Retrat d’Artista,’ the featured artists of the festival. The Catalan trumpetist, only 24 years old, has been making big waves in the jazz scene despite her young age, and has already become one of the hottest names in the festival. She plays five different shows throughout the festival, and is sure to be one of the biggest successes of this year.

El Clásico | Camp Nou | October 26, 1 pm

The biggest game in world football is back, as eternal rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid face off in what is always a highlight of the calendar. With both sides stuttering somewhat in the opening rounds of the season, this month’s clásico looks set to be more important than any other in recent seasons, as this year’s league is already as open and competitive as any other.

If you can’t get your hands on one of the golden tickets to the match in Barça’s Camp Nou, be sure to soak up the atmosphere in one of the city’s bars alongside thousands of other fans biting their nails until the last minute.

48h Open House | Barcelona | October 26-27

There are so many fascinating and beautiful buildings in Barcelona that, for various reasons, are not open to the public, but no doubt you’ve wondered what it’s like to be on top of the Arc de Triomf, inside the city hall building, or see Barcelona’s Supercomputer up close with your own eyes. 

For 48 hours, on the last weekend of the month, these buildings and many more will open their doors to the public for free, on the weekend of Open House, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in the Catalan capital this year. You can also visit many of the city’s fantastic museums for no cost this weekend too.

Saló Eròtic | Pavelló de la Vall d'Hebron | Oct 3-6

Saló Eròtic, or, Erotic Room as a translation, is a celebration of all things sexual and risqué. Between various exhibitions, theatrical performances, and talks, you can learn and explore sexuality in a completely new way at this festival. 

Across four days, there will be areas such as a BDSM stage, a swinger zone to learn about contemporary anti-monogamous living, and even an interactive sex shop. 

Festival of Movement and Gesture | Reus | October 19-21

COS returns to the southern Catalan city of Reus for the 21st festival of movement and gesture, taking an impressionistic view on performing arts

Come see how the human body can move and twist in ways you never thought imaginable in one of the 12 shows taking place over the weekend. There are also three workshops for the public to try their own hand at the interpretive movement. 

Saint Ursula’s Day celebration | Valls | Oct 27

The most mythologized and historic human towers are built in Valls on the day of the patron saint of the town, Saint Ursula - or Santa Ùrsula in Catalan. On the fourth Sunday of every October, a coin is tossed to see which group kicks off the castle-making party. 

Every year some of the most fantastic images of this iconic Catalan tradition comes from this day in Valls, with hugely impressive human towers often reaching seven or eight bodies high.

Manga Fair | Fira Montjuïc, Barcelona | Oct 31-Nov 3

On the final day of the month, manga and Japanese culture take over Barcelona city center, with one of the world’s biggest manga fairs taking place in Fira Mantjuïc, just off Plaça Espanya. 

Last year 150,000 people visited the 221 exhibitors, and similar numbers can be expected this time round in the 25th edition of the festival. Also on show will be films, Japanese cooking classes, and plenty of cosplay, animation, and manga workshops. 

Castanyada | Everywhere | Oct 31

In Catalonia, they don’t celebrate Halloween, but rather castanyada - an autumn celebration with very different traditions to the ghostly Halloween. A lot of the customs involve food and drink - not a bad way to start a party. Seasonal delicacies will be available throughout the month of October both in bakeries and on the street, so be sure to sample them all. 

Panellets are almond balls covered in pine nuts, while ossos de Sant is a type of cake made with preserved fruit. On the street will appear vendors selling roasted moniato - sweet potato - and the food that lends its name to the holiday, castanyes - roasted chestnuts. Wash it all down with a luscious glass of Moscatell, a sweet dessert wine. 



  • Jazz legend Herbie Hancock, one of the highlights of Barcelona Jazz Festival 2019 (by Barcelona Jazz Festival)

  • Jazz legend Herbie Hancock, one of the highlights of Barcelona Jazz Festival 2019 (by Barcelona Jazz Festival)