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Creativity, music, food, design, sports, art, traditions, technology, fun... Welcome to Barcelona! Things to do in Barcelona in 2014, save the date! Festa de San Jordi - 23rd April On the feast day of Sant Jordi (St George), the patron saint of Catalonia, nearly every building bears the red and gold Catalan flag, while red roses decorate the Palau de la Generalitat and the city's many statues and paintings of George in all his dragon-slaying glory. For more than fi ve centuries, this has been the Catalan version of St Valentine's Day, when couples exchange red roses and books - this is also 'Day of the Book', perhaps because the date coincides with International Book Day and, not by happenstance, with the date of death of both William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes. It's a great day to simply stroll around the streets of the city, browsing the book stalls, smelling the roses and enjoying the atmosphere, or you can take advantage of the fact that its open doors day at the city hall in Plaça Sant Jaume and visit its ancient galleries and halls. Barcelona Open - APR 19-27 Barcelona's major annual tennis tournament, of which Rafa Nadal remains the unchallenged king. This tournament is held at Spain's oldest tennis club, the Real Club de Tenis de Barcelona, and is set to celebrate its 62nd anniversary this year. It's one of the top events on the Spanish tennis calendar, as well as an important date on the Barcelona social scene with Spain's current position of strength on the international team, it's no surprise that Spanish players have won the last 11 editions. www.barcelonaopenbancsabadell.com Bcn International Comic Fair - 8th -11th May The Fira Barcelona trade fair zone hosts everything for the comic enthusiast, from videos to conferences and, of course, collectibles. So, it's a dream come true every May for the thousands of comic fans, many dressed as their favourite comic book characters, who descend on the trade fair complex to mingle with other enthusiasts and professionals and immerse themselves in the countless exhibitions, conferences and workshops centred on the world of graphic novels and comics. www.ficomic.com Bach: Goldberg Variations - 12th May Acclaimed young pianist Alexei Volodin presents Bach's 'Goldberg Variations' at the stunning Palau de la Música. Having worked with orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and the NHK, the Mariinsky Theatre, and the London Symphony, and conductors like Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Marc Albrecht, and Semyon Bychkov, Volodin is ready to demonstrate that he is one of the great pianists of our time with Bach's masterful take on the Baroque variations form. www.palaumusica.cat Gran Premio de España Santander de Fórmula Uno - 9th - 11th May Spain's Grand Prix alternates its venues every year, but in 2014 will take place at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmeló, half an hour from Barcelona by (frequent) train. One of the oldest motor races in the world, it celebrated its 100th year in 2013, when the ever popular Fernando Alonso once again walked away with the trophy. The 2014 edition promises to be every bit as exciting for motor racing fans as Monteló once again hosts the year's first FIA event to be staged in Europe. Spanish fans will, of course, be hoping that Alonso will be able to repeat last year's victory for Ferrari, though drivers like Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, Lotus's Kimi Raïkkönen and Romain Crosjean, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg racing for Mercedes and McLaren's Jenson Button and Sergio Perez are sure to make things as difficult as possible for him. www.circuitcat.com Primavera Sound - 29th - 31st May Fast stealing Sónar's thunder, this four-day music festival is one of the best in Spain. Credit for its success is due to its range of genres. There are rafts of electronica acts, DJs and local bands, plus a record fair and the Soundtrack Film Festival. The first confirmation for 2014 is Neutral Milk Hotel, but the line-up in 2013 included Nick Cave, Blur, Tame Impala and the Wu Tang Clan. Another recent incorporation to the 2014 line-up is Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, who will be presenting their fourth studio album, the James Murphy produced 'Reflektor', which sees the group departing somewhat from the epic and dark sounds that marked earlier works like their stellar debut Funeral or 2007's Neon Bible to embrace hybrid dance rhythms and Haitian and Jamaican influences. Their appearance at the festival will be their only Spanish date in 2014. www.primaverasound.com The Valkyrie - 19th - 31st May / 3rd June The familiar sounds of Wagner's stirring opera will ring out at the Liceu theatre for nine nights. This production by Cologne's Buhnen der Stadt Koln organization, with stage direction by Robert Carsen and music by the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu conducted by Josep Pons, features Anja Kampe and Eva Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde, Klaus Florian Vogt and Frank Van Aken as Siegmund, Irene Theorin and Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde and Albert Dohmen and Greer Grimsley as Wotan. www.liceubarcelona.cat
Four icons of Modernism worth a visit
The Modernista Sant Pau Complex The Modernista Sant Pau Complex was built between 1905 and 1930 and designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a garden city for nursing the sick. The pavilions set among gardens and connected by underground passages are breathtakingly beautiful and a showcase for the applied arts, featuring sculptures, stained glass and mosaics. A visit to this magnificent complex allows you to delve into history, art and the present day. The Casa Bellesguard The Casa Bellesguard stands at the foot of the Collserola Ridge, on a site which boasts magnificent views of Barcelona. The building's medieval past inspired Gaudí when he designed this innovative, but essentially neo-Gothic house, which has a curious viaduct next to it. The Casa Bellesguard was designed and built by Gaudí between 1900 and 1909 in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district. The house was built with stone and brick, decorated with magnificent mosaics and wrought-iron details. Casa Lleó Morera Some people say that the Casa Lleó Morera is a family-size version of the Palau de la Música. The locals gave this prime property in the heart of the Eixample the name due to the disparate styles of the three outstanding buildings. Today, everyone agrees that it is this disparity which makes one of Barcelona's major Modernisme landmarks great. Guided tours of the building allow you to discover all the secrets of this modernista masterpiece. Casa Amatller This amazing building, the Casa Amatller by Puig i Cadafalch, a contemporary of Gaudí, which combines the neo-Gothic style with a ridged façade inspired by houses in the Netherlands, is part of the block known as the "mansana de la discòrdia" of Barcelona. The architect based his design on the typical Catalan mansion and incorporated Germanic elements. You can visit the caretaker's office, which has survived intact and contains one of the finest stained-glass windows of the modernista era. On the ground floor there is a gallery staging temporary exhibitions. Admission is free.