Many countries today celebrate Halloween like the Anglo-Saxon countries. People dress up on the night of 31 October, also known as the night of witches. However, in Catalonia this practice is not very common. Many people don’t like to celebrate Halloween and prefer the more traditional Castanyada.
Lovers of horror and terrifying costumes, don’t worry, there's everything here! In Barcelona there are also places that celebrate Halloween on the night of 31 December, combining the two cultures perfectly.
The Castanyada is a festival with Catholic origins celebrated every 1 November, known as All Saints’ Day. Today, it's more commonly celebrated on the night of 31 October. That's because these days, on 1 November people often go to cemeteries to visit their loved ones who have passed away.
Much like Halloween, Castanyada has origins related to the dead. Townsfolk helped the church bell-ringers carry out the task of ringing the bells all night on the 31 December to honour the deceased. To recover from the hard work, they would then eat high-calory and energetic foods such as sweet potatoes, castanyas (chestnuts) and traditional pine nut cakes called panellets. The drink to accompany the food is moscatell (Muscat).
These dishes became the basis of the Catanyada festival. The patisseries prepare delicious panellets of different flavours and you can find dozens of street vendors on the streets called Castanyeras, who sell freshly made chestnuts and sweet potatoes.
Even though today Halloween is a festival closely related to the United States, it’s origins come from Celtic Britain, where they worshipped the gods of nature. At that time, the night of the 31st was known as Samhain, which marked the beginning of winter and the start of dark part of the year. The Celts were weary of winter because days are shorter and cold, and nights are longer and dark. To them, this all related to death and evil spirits.
The Celts believed that the bodies of the aos sí (spirits and fairies) could easily come from the otherworld on the night of the 31st, so they lit grand bonfires to cleanse any negativity and protect themselves, while leaving offerings of food to appease the spirits.
The classic halloween colours of orange and black also come from the Celts. Orange is the colour of harvest and black is the colour of night. The black cat is a magical animal in Celtic culture.
A thrilling night in Barcelona
Halloween of Pagan origin and the Castanyada of Catholic origin, are two festivals that can be combined perfectly and you can have the best of both: the magic and terrifying costumes from the Celts and the delicious food of the Castanyada and book on 1 November to visit the cemetery. Also, finish it all off, you can enjoy the Barcelona night!
Halloween of Pagan origin and the Castanyada of Catholic origin… but both can fuse perfectly to give you the best of both worlds. The magic and costumes from the Celts and the tasty food from the Castanyada. You might even keep 1 November in mind to visit a cemetery, though be careful to be very respectful of locals visiting their loved ones.
Whatever you do though, you're in for a great night in Barcelona! Here are 4 plans to celebrate a night out in Barcelona:
1. A horror film marathon at the cinema
On 31 October, a number of cinemas offer a special programme completely dedicated to horror films. An opportunity to discover and rediscover a series of legendary horror movies; a blessing for lovers of the genre. For example, the Phénoména Cinema offers a special session on Tuesday, 31 October, during which they will show three films for the reasonable price of €12.
In the Mouth of Madness (John Carpenter – 1994)
- Zombi 2 (Lucio Fulci – 1979)
- Bad Taste (Peter Jackson – 1987)
The Phénoména Cinema also organises their third edition of the Phantasma festival from 2 to 5 November, which is also entirely dedicated to horror films. Four days with films of the genre for all tastes, from gore, like the much-anticipated Jigsaw; to classic horror cinema, like Suspiria.
2. A witch hunt in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona
If you want to experience a night of terror but also partying, then this event is for you. Stoke travel organise a witch hunt for you in the heart of one of the old neighbourhoods of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter.
Start with make-up (if you want it) to make it more terrifying than ever! Go to the meeting point — the Irish bar George Payne — where they offer you a beer to give you the courage you need. Then, they organise teams to explore the city, solve puzzles and avoid traps that will pop up along your journey. With every test you overcome, you'll be offered a sangria or beer, whichever you prefer.
The aim is to be the first team to finish the treasure hunt to win a prize. But don’t worry, everyone will be rewarded. At the end of the witch hunt you'll be invited to continue this crazy night at City Hall, a famous Barcelona club located in Plaça de Catalunya. All this costs €25. Don’t hesitate, book here.
3. Enjoy good food in an extraordinary location
There are many restaurants in the city that offer themed dinners for Halloween, like Enigmatium, a restaurant specialising in a dinner-show. As well as being one of the most original in the city, it is the only restaurant that doesn't tell you where it is. What’s that you read? You’ll have to guess the location of the site using the clues. Cool, isn’t it? Better start Googling then. Here on Halloween you will dine with fear as a participant in their interactive show.
La Posada Maldita
Another fun restaurant, even if it's outside Barcelona, is La Posada Maldita (The Cursed Inn), found in Cerdanyola del Vallès. This strongly themed horror restaurant offers the public a different evening with satisfying homemade cooking and entertainment with scares, screams and laughs. It's the perfect plan for a little excursion, especially for fun-loving couples and families. You only have to call 666 569 666 to make a reservation... What could possibly go wrong?
4. Dare to escape the Room Escape of fear
For some years, the concept of Room Escapes has materialised and the public love it. In a nutshell, a team is locked in a room and has an hour to get out. To do this, the participants solve riddles and find clues, For Halloween, we propose a special Room Escape, which will pose an authentic scenario of puzzles and terror at White Rabbit.
You will receive an invitation to a mystery party. Upon arrival to the party, the room is locked with no way out and you discover that something strange is happening in the room. Discover what happened to get out of there. We especially recommend this room escape. Here you can take a look at their website, you will not be disappointed.
In this video they invite you to the party. Will you accept the invitation?
5. A costume night in the best clubs of the city
The majority of clubs offer special nights out during the week of All Saints’, especially on 31 October. You'll have the opportunity to dress in your best costumes (or most horrible) and give it everything on the dance floor at the best clubs in Barcelona.
Razzmatazz, for example, offers the Razzlloween party where you'll discover famous DJs while celebrating Halloween. Entry costs €17 with a drink included in the price.
Pachá, another well-known club in Barcelona located on the beach front, offers a 100% Halloween party in which you are invited to come dressed-up. Entry before 2AM will cost you €15 with a drink included in the price.
Many other popular clubs in the Catalan capital offer parties on 31 October, such as Shôko, Opium, Catwalk, Sala Apolo… You have many options, so don’t stay at home. ;)
6. Go to Port Aventura (for adrenaline junkies)
Halloween at Port Aventura is already a classic that you cannot miss. If you love theme parks and want to have a fantastic time with friends or family, then you can make an escape to Tarragona where you'll find Port Aventura. If you ride Shambhala, which in itself is scary enough, imagine how it will be with zombies causing terror when you get off the rollercoaster? Terrifying landscapes in a backdrop of fear, with horrific shows and fantastic attractions!
7. Staying at home can also be terrifying
For those who work or don’t have the courage to face the demons and witches on the streets of Barcelona, here is a list of three Spanish horror films for a Halloween party at home alone or with friends.
A true gem of Spanish cinema. This film from 2007 by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza follows the Blair-witch Project technique that places the viewer at the centre of the action via first-person filming. It gives the viewer the impression that it’s a real documentary that exalts reality. The two directors have made an extraordinary horror film that has been awarded at the Sitges International Film Festival and Goya Awards.
The film shows a Spanish journalist reporting in a fire station in Barcelona, talking about about the night. Then, in the middle of the night, they head to the building where screams of women have alerted residents. Next, everything accelerates and the journalist ends up being confined in a building in quarantine with someone or something very hungry hanging around…
El Orfanato (The Orphanage)
This film will make your blood go cold, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. It's based on a true story.
Far from the scenes of bloody crimes, this film takes place in an old orphanage that emits an atmosphere worthy of a haunted house. While Laura comes to rehabilitate the old building to reopen it, her son sees things that he shouldn’t, including the ghost of a small boy. Although nobody listens to him, panic breaks out when the child disappears.
The Orphanage was presented in 2007 at the Cannes Festival and then at the Fantastic’arts Festival in 2008, where it won the Grand Prix.
El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devils Backbone)
Along the same lines as before, this film is not scary due to bloody massacres. It’s more the atmosphere that will send shivers down your spine.
This film is directed by Guillermo del Toro and takes place during the Spanish Civil War in a Catholic institution for orphans. Carlos — a 12 year old boy who has just arrived at the orphanage and faces the hostility of his new classmates — discovers that strange things are happening and that, sometimes, not all ghosts are evil.
It was launched in 2001, winning awards at the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival and MTV Movie Awards.
If in addition to the festivities planned for Halloween you want to enjoy other activities, then you can take a look at this article that lists all the activities which take place in November in Barcelona. Have fun! ;)
- The best November events in Barcelona 2017 What can you do in November in Barcelona? Find out here!