The Arts In Barcelona: El Grec Festival

El Grec is a big part of Barcelona’s identity. In July, this festival transforms the warm summer nights, bringing to the city some of the best theatre, dance, music and circus acts. If you are in the Catalan capital at this time, don’t miss the opportunity to attend some of the performances.

This year, El Grec will take place the whole month of July. Although the programme is not yet complete, we know that the main theme will be that of the ‘Mediterranean’. Some highlights will include the flamenco dance ‘La Baila’ of choreographer Israel Galván (Teatre Grec, July 4-5) and the new play by Dimitris Papaionnou, which will be both experimental and meticulously arranged (Mercat de les Flors theatre, July 2-4). In fact, Papaionnou is well-known for designing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics back in 2004.

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Legend of flamenco: Israel Galvan (credit: lerocherdepalmer.fr)

The story

The festival started in 1976 when the Assembly of Actors and Directors of Catalunya decided to give a platform to the innovative and independent performing arts. A lot of these appeared right after the death of the Spanish dictator Franco and the restoration of democracy in Spain.

In 1979, Barcelona City Council became the organisers of the festival. This meant that international actors and directors started coming to Barcelona, alongside Catalans already playing at the festival.

Since then, some of the best theatre writers, directors and performers have come to play at El Grec. Dario Fo, Lindsay Kemp, Robert Lepage and many others have enjoyed the July nights in Barcelona. Some famous musicians have also graced its stages, like Caetano Veloso, Bob Dylan and Santana.

The venues 

Teatre Grec: This is the heart of the festival. The main performances and events take place at this venue built in 1929 by Ramon Reventós and Nicolau Maria Rubió I Tudurí. On July 8, Santiago Auserón will play some of his songs, accompanied by the stunning Barcelona Municipal Band. Not far from the Teatro Grec, you can stay in one of our luxury apartments, our Plaza Espana II residence.

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Rocky backdrop and great acoustics: the Teatre Grec (credit: lameva.barcelona.cat)

Teatre Nacional de Catalunya: Opened in 1996 and designed by the famous Spanish architect Ricard Bofill, it us one of the most outstanding cultural facilities of Barcelona. The main building of this theatre takes is inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, with two halls (450 and 870 people can be seated in these theatres). Some of the main events take place here during the festival.

Teatre Lliure: Founded in 1976, its main stage is in the former Palau de l’Agricultura of Montjuïc. The main hall, Sala Fabià Puigserver, can seat more than 700 spectators. It is worth visiting it even if it is just for its beautiful exterior. The Teatre Lliure is also conveniently close to our beautiful Botadura residence.

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Teatre Lliure (credit: shbarcelona.com)

Auditori: This was opened in 1999. The venue has three halls: Sala 1 Pau Casals for 2.200 spectators, Sala 2 Oriol Martorell with 600 places, and Sala 3 Tete Montoliu with 400 places. Nowadays, some of the greatest orchestras of the world come to the Auditori. It also serves as the home of the Orquestra Simfònica of Barcelona, where the best upcoming conductors and orchestras are taught and perform.

Although main events and activities take place at all the venues mentioned above, a few shows of the El Grec are also hosted in other venues like the Teatre Romea, La Villarroel, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), the Joan Miró Foundation and the CaixaForum art centre. In particularly, it’s worth noting that the Sala Beckett (in Poblenou) will host “Un tret al cap” (July 5-30), the much-anticipated new play of Pau Miró, one of the most popular Catalan theatre directors.

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Playwright Pau Miro will present his latest work at the festival (credit: Xavier Solanas)

If you want to learn more about the festival as the full programme is announced, check out their website.