“El dia de Sant Jordi” (Saint George’s Day), one of Barcelona's most iconic festivals, is held on 23 April every year. It is a day on which culture, tradition and literature are united in a celebration that is unique in the world, and a day on which the city’s streets are full of life and color.
The cultural offerings on Sant Jordi’s day are impressive. Bookshops and publishers take their stands out onto the streets, offering a vast range of novels, poetry, essays, comics, children's books: You name it; it will be there. Furthermore, numerous authors are available to sign their books and talk to their readers.
As the story goes, the custom of giving a rose and a book as a gift emerged in the 15th century, inspired by the legend of the knight Sant Jordi, who was reputed to have saved a princess from a dragon that was terrorizing the population. A bush of roses grew out of the dragon’s blood, and Saint Jordi cut off a rose to give to the princess. Since then, every April 23rd, Catalans give a rose to their sweethearts and a book to their friends and family.
Much more than tradition
Saint Jordi’s Day is not only about books and roses, however. There are also numerous cultural activities for all, ranging from concerts to dance, exhibitions to street theatre, and countless activities for children. There is so much on offer that it is difficult to do everything in a single day. What’s more, it's a day when people sell roses to raise money for good causes.
If you are in Barcelona on this special day don’t miss the chance to stroll through the streets of the city, discover its bookshops, and enjoy the cultural activities organized on every corner. So here are just some activities organized by our partners.
- Visit iconic monuments: Sant Jordi is a great time to enjoy the historical and cultural heritage of the city, as many locations have open days.
Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Park Güell, Camp Nou and many other famous places in the city will be utterly transformed, and there will be activities related to Catalan literature and culture. Furthermore, the Hospital Sant Pau, Palau Güell, the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion and the Palau de la Generalitat are just some of the places that will be offering free admission to celebrate the day.
Sant Jordi this year will also be a great time to enjoy the so-called “literary superblock,” a car-free space bordered by Diagonal, Gran Via, Balmes and Pau Claris. The Ramblas will be full of stands once again this year, as will Gran de Gràcia, from the Jardinets to the Travessera de Gràcia.
- Attend a book signing: Numerous famous authors and writers are in Barcelona on Sant Jordi’s Day to sign copies of their books. If you are passionate about literature, don't miss this unique opportunity to meet your favorite authors.
Besides, Barcelona overflows with literary history. Many bestsellers like Cathedral of the Sea, The Shadow of the Wind, and Pigeon Girl (La Plaça del Diamant) were inspired by the city, so it is a good time to discover Barcelona’s libraries and second-hand and specialist bookshops, and buildings that have a close relationship with literature.
- Take part in family workshops and activities: Workshops and cultural activities are organized in different parts of the city throughout the day. From storytelling for children to literary competitions for adults, there is something for everyone in Barcelona on Sant Jordi's Day.
- Musical Sant Jordi: Barcelona also has music in its DNA, which is why you mustn’t miss some of the concerts on for this special day.
The former Estrella Damm factory is now one of the best places to celebrate Sant Jordi's Day in Barcelona, with some 22 artists and groups performing live. Artists include Els Catarres, Gertrudis, 31 FAM, Roba Estesa, Sergi Carbonell, Koers, Siderland, and Grauwi + Marta Cascales.
The Antic Teatre will also be hosting a free event. Its “Off Sant Jordi” program, in collaboration with the bookshops Calders and On The Road, will culminate with a lively poetry recital sponsored by l'Horiginal.