The Catalan capital in June is all about the al fresco: relaxing in beach clubs, dining under the stars, and catching a concert in magnificently manicured gardens
Relaxing by a Barcelonan beach
June is the loveliest of months to find yourself adrift in the Catalan capital. It’s when the weather turns balmy – perfect for dining al fresco, frolicking in the sea or relaxing at one of Barcelona’s fashionable beach clubs. It also marks the start of the festival season proper, as well as the beloved Nit de Sant Joan (23 June), when residents celebrate the longest day with dazzling firework displays on the beaches and copious amounts of cava, the local fizz.
The grounds of the Jardins de Pedralbes
Starting on 12 June, the Festival Jardins de Pedralbes is the most sophisticated of the city’s festivals and lasts a whole month. Spread across the immaculately manicured lawns of the Pedralbes Palace, which are sewn together by neat sand paths bordered by laurel bushes and orange trees and shaded by giant cedars, it’s the stuff of fairy tales. This year’s star-studded line-up is headlined by Carla Bruni, Blondie and Tom Jones and, being the classy affair it is, is catered by the Michelin-starred Torres brothers, who are offering a 30-course tasting menu with wine.
Kicking off on the same day, the three-day Sónar festival has been showcasing the best in advanced music technology and new media art for over 20 years. This year’s artists include Lykke Li, Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack, with visitors coming from all over the world. The daytime sessions tend to be funkier and more chilled out than the electronic music nights.
Mimosa Garden at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
June can seem like one endless party, but there are ways to squeeze in some downtime. Take a long, lazy lunch at Martinez to see the sapphire-blue Mediterranean laid out at your feet and the emerald-green gardens of Montjuïc just behind. Kick back beneath the tangerine-coloured sail shades with a glass of Casa Mariol vermut, and feast on boat-fresh seafood tapas and impeccably made rice dishes paired with an interesting wine list that includes the high-altitude Ekam Riesling from Lleida. Throw in a spot of retail therapy on the Passeig de Gràcia, followed by a cheeky lemon-cardamom martini in Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona’s secret Mimosa Garden and life’s just peachy.
The Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts celebrates 250 years this year and its exclusive dinners at the Observatori Fabra start on 14 June. Hovering above the city in the Collserola hills, the views are sensational, and the gourmet tasting menu served on the terrace as the sun goes down sets the scene for a night of stargazing. Guests also have a chance to watch the planets and constellations in action through the meridian telescope; built in 1904, it is the oldest of its kind in Europe.
A window of Gaudí’s Casa Batlló on the Passeig de Gràcia
Finally, in a city that rarely sleeps it would be churlish not to put on your dancing shoes. El Boo is Barcelona’s smartest beach club, designed to look like a Fifties ocean liner, complete with cocktail lounge and several terraces jutting straight over the sea. Clandestine cocktail bar and music club Mutis, however, is where Hollywood’s visiting stars hang out. Bathed in a golden glow cast by glittering chandeliers, with a pint-sized stage for crooners who perform here through the weekend, and deep Chesterfields for snuggling up in, it’s the perfect end to a perfect day.
Originally from Britain, Tara Stevens is a Barcelona-based lifestyle, travel and food writer