Drinking and nightlife
There are lively bars and cafés throughout the centre - in the Barri Gòtic as well as the Eixample and Gràcia - catering for all types and styles. One of the city's great pleasures is to pull up a pavement seat outside a bar, sip a coffee or a beer, and watch the world go by (except in the Barri Gòtic's Plaça Reial, where the world watches you). Alongside the regular bars and cafés, Barcelona also has a range of music and theme bars geared towards late-night drinking, and there's a disco and club nightlife that is currently one of Europe's most enjoyable.
For full listings of bars and clubs, get hold of a copy of the weekly Guia del Ocio (?0.75, comes out on Thurs), or SexTienda's map of gay Barcelona with a list of bars, clubs and contacts. If you're very keen on bar-hunting, there's a user's guide called Barsalona , available from newsstands, which has an English-language section at the back, and in designer bars and clothing shops you'll also find other lifestyle magazines, such as the bimonthly Barcelona Divina (?3) as well as free, glossy magazines (including Venus, Micro and B-guide ) which, amidst the ads, contain bar and club news and reviews.
Barcelona hosts a wide range of live music events throughout the year, and, though many venues either close or drastically reduce their programmes during the summer, this is the time that the city's festivals come into their own. The Generalitat 's summer Grec season features various musical and theatrical events. At the end of September things liven up further with the Festa de la Mercè , an excuse for four days of world, jazz, classical and rock music concerts all over the city. There is a whole series of annual festivals dedicated specifically to music, the most important of which are April's Tradicionàrius , a festival of folk music, the Festival de Jazz Ciutat Vella, European jazz festival and SÓNAR , a cutting-edge electronic music festival, all held in June. There's also the annual jazz festival in October/November, which highlights visiting bands in the clubs and hosts street concerts and events. All year round, the permanent experimental music festival, LEM ( ), sponsors free or cheap concerts featuring the Gràcia collective and international guests.
To keep up with concerts and events and to buy tickets , there are a number of options. You might check the venues we've listed and keep an eye out for posters advertising concerts, but it's better to actively research, as the best events sell out early. There are concert listings in El Pais newspaper, and in a free monthly guide published by Amics de la Música, which is available at the tourist information office, as well as in Metropolitan, the monthly free English-language listings magazine. The weekly Guía del Ocio is the best source for what's on day by day - look in its "Agenda musical" section. You can pick up a schedule of Ajuntament -sponsored productions, performances and exhibitions, including the Grec season events from the Centre d'Informació (Palau de la Virreina, Rambla Sant Josep 99) which also sells tickets for these events The booth on the corner of c/Aribau and the Gran Vía, close to Plaça Universitat (Mon-Sat 10.30am-1.30pm & 4-7.30pm) sells tickets for major rock and pop concerts and for most theatre productions; record shops also carry concert tickets; or go straight to the relevant venue's box office. For more popular rock and contemporary music, check the listings outside record shops in c/Tallers (such as Revolver), which also act as ticket agents (cash only) - the better shows will sell out weeks in advance. Otherwise tickets can be bought at the door (with a small surcharge) or from scalpers (with a big surcharge). The bank, La Caixa, has ticket-dispensing Servicaixa machines next to many of their ATMs (check for listings), which dispense theatrical, concert and even cinema tickets, though foreign credit cards don't always work - annoying when the Servicaixa is the sole ticket outlet for the event.
The arts and festivals
Quite apart from the city's countless bars, restaurants and clubs, there's a full cultural life worth sampling. We've covered live music venues, and film and theatre are also well represented, as you'd expect in a city this size. Even if you don't speak Catalan or Spanish there's no need to miss out, since several cinemas show films in their original language, while Barcelona also boasts a series of old-time music hall/ cabaret venues putting on largely visual shows, which are appealing in any language. Catalan performers have always steered away from the classics and gone for the innovative, and so the city also boasts a long tradition of street and performance art .
Finally, if you're lucky (or you've planned ahead) you'll coincide with one of the city's excellent festivals and open-air events in which case you'll be able to immerse yourself in what Barcelona does best: enjoying itself.
There are several ticket offices and booths ( taquilles ) throughout the city. For theatre and dance, the most important is the Centre d'Informació in the Palau de la Virreina, which dispenses programmes, advance information and tickets for all the Ajuntament -sponsored productions, performances and exhibitions, including the Grec season events. The ticket booth at the corner of c/d'Aribau and the Gran Via, close to Plaça Universitat (Mon-Sat 10.30am-1.30pm & 4-7.30pm), sells tickets for many theatre productions, and increasingly useful are the automated Servicaixa ticket dispensers. Finally, with a credit card you can buy theatre tickets over the phone or on the Net through Tel-Entrada on 902 101 212 or .
For listings of almost anything in the way of culture and entertainment, buy a copy of the weekly Guía del Ocio from any newsstand. This has full details of film, theatre and musical events (free and otherwise), as well as extensive sections on bars, restaurants and nightlife. It's in Spanish but easy enough to decipher. El Pais newspaper also carries a comprehensive listings guide, while the free monthly magazine Barcelona Metropolitan (available in English-language bookshops, bars and cinemas) has listings information and news about the city in English.
For advance information , the office at the Palau de la Virreina has plenty of free publicity material about forthcoming cultural and music events - write to I.M. Barcelona Espectacles, Palau de la Virreina, Rambla 99, 08002 Barcelona, telling them what you're interested in. An organization called Amics de la Música de Barcelona (c/d'Ortigosa 14-16 tel 932 680 122) publishes a free monthly listings sheet detailing current classical, opera, jazz and rock concerts along with ticket prices and addresses; pick it up at the Palau de la Virreina or the tourist information office.
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