Romance is in the air as the Barcelona streets fill with stands of roses and books to give to loved ones for the Catalan celebration of Sant Jordi 2023. Every year, Sant Jordi is celebrated on April 23rd to recognize Catalan culture and love as Sant Jordi, or Saint George in English, is both the patron saint of all Catalonia and of lovers. While the holiday can be celebrated many different ways, there are several traditions that happen throughout the city every year you do not want to miss. Check out these best activities in Barcelona to celebrate Sant Jordi 2023.
Activities for Sant Jordi 2023: what to do in Barcelona
When wandering around Barcelona on Sant Jordi 2023, you may wonder why there are roses and books everywhere. Well, every year to commemorate the holiday, couples exchange books and roses as a way to show their love. In the past, men were usually the ones to give roses to the women, and women would pick out a book for the man. But today, society is more inclusive to all different types of couples and interests, so the custom is for both partners to give each other a rose and a book. Although this is the main tradition associated with Sant Jordi, there are lots of events and activities to partake in all over Barcelona. Here are some of the highlights of Sant Jordi 2023.
Visit the Sant Jordi-inspired Casa Batlló
Antoni Gaudí’s famous architectural wonder, Casa Batlló, is decorated every year for Sant Jordi with roses covering every balcony. Casa Batlló was redesigned by Gaudí in 1904 to become one of the most frequently recognized attractions in Barcelona and a UNESCO World Heritage site. But why is it so significant for Sant Jordi? Well, the theory is that the facade and some interior structures of the building were designed to tell the legend of Sant Jordi, when he slayed the dragon to free a princess and her town from the horrors of the beast. You can observe the scale-like tile rooftop that is thought to represent the dragon, the four-arm cross on the roof that resembles Sant Jordi’s sword, as well as the skull-like balconies which portray the dragon’s victims. Aside from observing these architectural hidden gems, Casa Batlló’s Symbolic store will be selling special Sant Jordi themed merchandise, as well as giving away Sant Jordi posters for any purchase as long as supplies last. Do not miss your chance to experience Sant Jordi at the house of the dragon.
Enjoy Catalan culture from the inside through the Open Door sessions
In honour of this important Catalan holiday, for Sant Jordi 2023, many museums and important Catalan buildings will have Open Door sessions where visitors can enter for free or for a discounted price to help immerse themselves in Catalan culture and history on this special day. Some of these significant buildings include the Museu d'Història de Catalunya, Palau de la Generalitat and the Biblioteca de Catalunya. There are also options for more popular locations such as the Basílica de la Sagrada Família and the Palau Güell, but there are certain requirements such as prior reservations on their websites. Sant Jordi 2023 is an incredible opportunity to see all of these important Catalan monuments for free.
Pick up a new book at the literary ‘superilla’
Books laid out on tables in the open air have been a common sight on Sant Jordi since the day became fused with Catalonia’s National Book Day almost a century ago, but now the Chamber of Books of Catalonia has reserved a section of Passeig de Gràcia as well as La Rambla to fill the streets with book stands. The Chamber of Books has gathered unions of booksellers, publishers and other significant literary groups to fill the streets with books for sale. In 2022, this literary ‘superilla’ took up 140,000 square meters, but it has grown for Sant Jordi 2023 to take up 154,000 square meters. The literary ‘superilla’ will fill the area between Diagonal and Gran Via, as well as Gran de Gràcia. This book lover’s dream is the perfect place to find your next read or something for your significant other to celebrate Sant Jordi.
Get your book signed by your favorite author
On this Sant Jordi, go beyond purchasing a new book at the literary ‘superilla’ and instead purchase a new book signed by the author. For Sant Jordi and National Book Day of Catalonia, many local authors will come to Passeig de Gràcia and other spots around Barcelona to sign copies of their books. This is a unique chance to meet many famous Catalan authors on such a special day for literature and Catalonia. While there are different schedules for other meeting points around the city, here is a timeline of when certain authors will be at La Casa del Libro, one of the largest bookstores in Passeig de Gràcia on April 23rd.
📍 Passeig de Gràcia, 1 (between C/Diputació and C/Consell de Cent)
- 10-11 h: Alice Kellen / Care Santos / Cristina Martínez / Maria Nicolau / Marta Orriols / Vicenç Lozano
- 11-12 h: Agnès Busquets / Alice Kellen / Cristina Campos / Javier Cercas / Marian Rojas Estapé / Santiago Lorenzo
- 12-13 h: Alice Kellen / Curro Cañete / Luis García Montero / Luis Landero / Marian Rojas Estapé / Xesco Reverter
- 13-14 h: Alice Kellen / Juan Gómez-Jurado / Mónica Carrillo / Rosa Montero / Sandra Barneda / Víctor Amela
- 16-17 h: Ana Punset / Camilla Läckberg y Henrik Fexeus / Ferran Torrent / Filòloga de Guàrdia / Maria Barbal / Pablo Rivero
- 17-18 h: Camilla Läckberg i Henrik Fexeus / Eva Piquer / Iván Ferreiro / Jordi Graupera / Juan José Millás / Melcior Comes
- 18-19 h: Ana Polo / Elisenda Roca / Julia Navarro /Paco Mir / Pep Coll
- 19-20 h: Carme Chaparro / Joan Anton Català / Jordi Molist / Raul Balam y Carme Gasull / Risto Mejide / Vanesa Freixa
- 20-21 h: Lluís Anton Baulenas / María Solar / Paloma Sánchez-Garnica / Pedro Baños / Pilar Eyre / Teodor de Mas Valls
📍 Passeig de Gràcia, 2 (between C/Aragó and C/València)
- 10-11 h: Andreu Claret / Eva García Saenz de Urturi / Màrius Serra / Marta Lloret / Martí Gironell / Xavier Aldekoa
- 11-12 h: Borja Vilaseca / Cristina Martín Jiménez / Fernando Aramburu / Gemma Ruiz / Xavier Bosch
- 12-13 h: Albert Espinosa / Alex Raco / Enrique Dans / Martí Domínguez / Mikel Santiago / Pilar Urbano
- 13-14 h: Luz Gabás / Manuel Vilas / Meritxell Falgueras / Rafael Tarradas Bultó / Sebastià Portell / Toni Aira
- 16-17 h: Arnau Paris / Dolores Redondo / Gaspar Hernàndez / Ignacio Martínez de Pisón / La Sotana / Núria Coll
- 17-18 h: Guillem Albà / Jair Domínguez / John Boyne / La Sotana / Luis García-Rey / Marta Robles
- 18-19 h: Carlos Del Amor / Carme Elias / Gemma Ventura / La Sotana / Vicente Vallés / Xavier Graset
- 19-20 h: Coia Valls / Jordi Puntí / Laia Perearnau / Maria de la Pau Janer / Máximo Huerta / Rayden
- 20-21 h: Alejandro Palomas / Francesc Miralles / Gisela Pou / Jaime Bayly / Txell Feixas / Víctor del Árbol