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Teletext Holidays are They the Answer to Finding Holidays?

If you are looking for bargain holidays it can save time and effort to visit a single website where you can search for the destination of your choice at a price that is right for you. A price comparison website such as teletext holidays is a good place to source those cheap holidays.

The original concept of teletext holidays emanated from a television information retrieval service in the UK in the 1970′s. The idea of price comparison sites moved onto the internet and has become very popular. Using these sites for finding fun in the sun holidays is now common practice throughout the world.

As a consumer, you will want to get the best deal available when it comes to spending your hard earned cash. By tailoring your holiday to match your requirements you can get exactly what you want at a price that won’t break the bank. Whether you want to book a traditional package deal, a cheap flight, an all-inclusive hotel break or a mix-and-match holiday, using a first rate price comparison site is ideal.

There are numerous cheap holiday deals and bargain flights out there, but when do you have the time to trawl the internet to find them? This is when sites like teletext holidays really come into their own. You can sit in front of your computer, and using a simple search box, type in your search criteria to source the perfect holiday of your choice. It really couldn’t be easier.

Take Spanish Holidays for example. There are many destinations on the mainland to choose from such as the Costa’s, Barcelona and Madrid. But what about the Balearic islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza? Then there are the Canaries of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria et al. Teletext holidays allows you to compare thousands of great holidays and bargain flights to destinations throughout Spain in the time it takes to make a jug of sangria!

Teletext holidays have a lot more to offer than just holidays in the sun. Investigate a break in the UK or consider a trip to one of hundreds of destinations available on a city break. Cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and of course Paris are fabulous places to visit. If you fancy a bit of luxury, think about taking a cruise to destinations all over the world. Going on a special interest break such as Golf, fishing and diving holidays are great ways to see another part of the world whilst indulging yourself in what you love doing.

Having a decent break from the stresses of everyday life is important so make sure you make the right choices. Making teletext holidays your one-stop-shop for all your holiday requirements would be a great start!

Travel experiences: Spain

When you travel around the world, every now and then you’ll visit places that leave you completely breathless, with no desire whatsoever to ever leave again. Strangely enough, to me this happened to a city just a one hour flight away from home: Barcelona.

Barcelona will always be linked to Gaudi, one of the great masters of architecture. While mostly known for his colorful draco at the entrance of Parc Guell and for his obvious masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, few people realize his immense impact on the whole city. From the tiles on Passeig de Gracia to the lanterns on Placa Real, the Finca Guell and Palau Guell, Casa Mila (better known as la Pedrera) and Casa Batllo, one says you can see some of his work from every single spot in Barcelona.

But there is more, so much more. Whether it is the nightlife you’re after, the shopping, the beach, the architecture, museums or a simple stroll, Catalunia’s capital has got it all. To top it all off, there is the sangria and an immense variety of tapas in the small cafes and bistros all over town.

It is impossible to list all the things there are to see and do in Barcelona, and that’s not what this site is for. Instead, I’ll give my personal highlights of the city, and hopefully that’ll be helpful for anybody who plans on going there.

Gaudi.

As mentioned earlier, it is virtually impossible to overlook Gaudi’s influence on the city. A trip to Barcelona would not be complete without visiting at least the Parc Guell with the draco and the famous curbed mosaic benches, and his undisputed (yet still unfinished) masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia. His tragic death (the people of Barcelona left him on the streets after he was hit by a tram, not knowing it was Gaudi. He later refused to be transferred to a better hospital as he felt his place was amongst the poor) quite possibly made him even more legendary.

Tibida.

The highest point of Barcelona with amazing views over the cities. You can hike up the hill or take the pleasant little train-ride. On top, you’ll find the unique church and a rather outdated amusement park.

Montjuic.

This hill on the other side of Barcelona is famous for its telecommunications tower, built especially for the Olympics in 1992. It also houses the majestic Olympic stadium, where now Espanyol Barcelona plays its home games.

Camp Nou.

Stadium of FC Barcelona, still one of the world’s most renowned football teams (that would be soccer for the American readers).

Las Ramblas.

Collection of 5 separate streets (6 if you count the Rambla del Mar) that are more commonly known as Las Ramblas. They stretch from the Plaza Catalunya all the way to the statue of Columbus. On the broad pedestrian part in the middle, you’ll find flower stalls, bars, and some of the most talented street artists in the world.

This list is by no means complete, but should give you some idea of what this amazing city has to offer.

Tibidabo – Mountain Of Devil

It is believed that Devil seduced Christ on a mountain like Tibidabo. In fact, the sight of Barcelona from the summit of the 542-meter high mountain is seductive. Barcelona is laid in minuscule form – Montjüic and the sea frame all the familiar sights and roads of the city can be viewed from here.

Tibidabo is on one side of the city, while the Collserola hills rise sharply and verdantly up behind Barcelona to the north. At the northeastern side of Avinguda Diagonal is the new Diagonal Mar commercial, office, and residential development.

At 542m, Tibidabo forms the backdrop to Barcelona and at the same time is the highest hill in the wooded range. On a clear fine morning, it’s a great place for views over the city. The people of Barcelona come up here for some thrills at the amusement park Parc d’Atraccions, which has rides and a house of horrors. However the main attraction at the Parc, however, is the glass lift that goes 115m up to a visitors’ observation area at Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower. The not so adventurous type can find solace in Temple del Sagrat Cor, Barcelona’s Sacré Coeur. Towering above Tibidabo’s funicular station, there are actually two churches, one on top of the other. The top one is surmounted by a giant Christ and has a lift to the roof.

The Tibidabo Mountain can be called city’s landmarks for a number of reasons. Firstly, the illustrative church by the same name is located on the peak of the mountain. Secondly, the amusement park is the oldest of its kind in Spain and the second oldest in Europe (it was constructed in 1899). As it is so old it has not only retained some classic attractions, which are well-known and popular amongst locals, but also at the same time incorporated the latest in amusement park fare. One of the most exceptional items is an exact reproduction of the airplane that was used for the first flight between Barcelona and Madrid in 1928. The airplane gives visitors the chance to see the city from above for a few moments without ever having to leave the park.

The park also consists of the Tibidabo Museum of Automatons, located in an old theatre that dates back to 1909. It houses a collection of old mechanical toys that worked by inserting a coin a common feature at European fairs in the past. The museum is amongst the most complete in its kind, especially because the pieces are in such excellent condition, and the collection includes many peculiar mechanical toys pertaining to that era.

The Best way to visit Mount Tibidabo is to arrive at it via the Avinguda del Tibidabo. There are some very interesting villas by several different architects. The so-called “Tramvia Blau” (blue tram) goes up this avenue and is the only one of its kind left in Spain. At the end of the first stage of the ascent is La Font del Racó Park, and, on the right-hand side inside a Modernist building, there is the Science Museum and planetarium which attract many visitors. The avenue ends in the Plaça del Peu del Funicular where there are restaurants for eating outside and night clubs.

Why Buy a Fractional in London?

The World’s most expensive cities are those where rich international buyers congregate, and no other city is as international as London. With its time-zone and language convenient for businessmen from the US to the Middle East to Asia – all conspire to make London the leading financial centre. Coupled with its unrivalled rich heritage, culture, arts and entertainment facilities, London is continually accoladed as the greatest city in the World.

There are many benefits of fractional ownership but why should you consider a fractional in London? We have compiled a list of just some of them:

12 MONTH SEASON: Traditionally fractional ownership has been popular at Beach and Ski resorts, however, due to the shortness of the season, these units may only be used for a limited period of the year, meaning the owners do not get use out of it in key times. London provides 52 weeks of entertainment with events, exhibitions, festivals and shows throughout the year. A city where 8 million people live doesn’t really have a low season! Although many holiday makers visit London in the summer there is a whole wealth of things to do and see in the other 3 quarters of the year too! This means that whether you are in London for Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, you will be always be visiting London at a time when the Capital is bustling.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! London’s residential housing market is diverse indeed. Where your property is situated will have a dramatic effect on your experience here in the Capital. Fractional ownership enables buyers to part own a residence in a far more affluent and desirable location than they would perhaps be able to if they were buying a unit outright. London Fractions only promotes fractionals in the very best areas of London including Knightsbridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster, Belgravia and Chelsea.

SAFER INVESTMENT: Due to the fact that London Fractions properties are in the best and most sought after locations means that your property has the greatest chance of consistent price growth going forward. Demand for luxury properties in key London neighbourhoods will continue and these properties are far more resilient in periods of global economic downturns.

YOUR EUROPEAN HEADQUATERS! London is ideally situated to access the rest of Europe. With 5 International airports within 45 minutes of Central London, the UK is an ideal base for anyone wanting the ability to see Europe. With the numerous low-cost flight carriers, you can (usually) fly to Barcelona for lunch for example and the flight may very well cost you less than the food!

CONCIERGE SERVICE: With priority booking for London’s top shows, events and restaurants plus affiliations to a range of private membership clubs, you can live here and enjoy all the benefits and inside knowledge of a full time London resident.

YOU CAN’T LIVE IN A HOTEL! With a fractional apartment in London – you can feel as if you have a home away from home. With beautiful kitchens, outdoor areas, lounges, multiple bathrooms and bedrooms, your environment can be enjoyed to the full. A fractional apartment also gives you the ability to entertain other people rather than having to go out every night!

FUTURES BRIGHT FOR LONDON: With the hosting of the 2012 Olympics and some £10bn of investment into facilities and infrastructure, the future of London looks as strong as ever. Approximately 65% of London’s luxury properties (£4m+) were purchased by foreign investors in 2007 and International demand is set to continue as London continues to be the economic and social Capital of the World.

TIME & EXPENSE OF WHOLE OWNERSHIP: Quite simply if London is not your primary residence and you only spend a limited time here, why pay for outright ownership? With London Fractions the entry price to the luxury housing market is slashed and the maintenance and taxes associated with the property are shared between owners. You also do not need concern yourself with the property when you are not using it as it is looked after by London Fractions’ Management.

Preparation when taking a trip or vacation

When preparing to take a trip or vacation, there are a lot of things that need to be checked before departing on such an adventure. The easiest way to make sure that everything is in order is to make a checklist. Let’s pretend, for example, that you are planning a trip to Barcelona, Spain. The first thing you would need to do to prepare for your trip to Barcelona would be research the city fully and take notes. For example, if you are interested in art museums, you might search the internet for art museums in Barcelona, Spain. You would want to take notes of the locations of the museums and also how much Barcelona tickets for art museums would cost in American dollars. The second consideration would be making travel arrangements. Checking flight information is a must. Rechecking flight information is also a must. You should check, and recheck that your Barcelona tickets for air travel are in order, and that no changes in itinerary need to be made. Even as late as the day you are planning to travel, you will want to check with the airline for last minute changes to your planes scheduled departure. Is the plane running late? Has there been a delay? Is your flight canceled due to weather considerations?

All of these things are common occurrences and should be fully checked out before even leaving for the airport. Also, you are going to want to check the applicable laws for importing and exporting goods to the country you are traveling to. Some countries do not allow certain items to come through customs into the country, and also do not allow certain items to exit the country. Never assume that something you are taking with you or planning to bring back is “no big deal,” as you may find your objects being seized when passing through customs. Some of these items might include: foods- such as produce, certain types of medications, and anything that is considered native to the country you have visited. There are many reasons for these restrictions and such restrictions are usually very strictly enforced. Finally, you will want to ensure that you have packed all of your necessities for your trip. An important thing to remember is to double check that you have an adequate supply of any prescription drugs, as it may be difficult if not impossible to get a prescription filled while you are on your trip. You will want to ensure that you have packed things to do on the trip, a change of clothing, and hygienically supplies along with your medications in a carry-on bag so as to avoid complications from improperly routed baggage during flight changes. It is important that you also remember all of your identifying factors, such as: driver’s license or ID card, passport, and shot records if traveling to certain locations. And, of course, traveling with cash is not always the best plan. Carry minimal cash and instead opt for traveler’s checks, this will also eliminate the need to exchange currency while traveling. Last but not least, have fun on your trip! After making your checklist, researching your destination’s venues, making travel arrangements, double checking any applicable laws, and making sure that you have packed accordingly – you will be able to leave for your vacation knowing that you have covered all of your bases; this will make your vacation much more enjoyable.

Barcelona Crime: Avoiding Pickpockets

In a city reknowned for petty theft, it’s worth while taking a few precautions.

Although Barcelona is one of the safest cities in Europe, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to enjoy a crime-free holiday. The first is that the main thoroughfares are home to some skilled and professional pick pockets. These people will be invariably well dressed, and look like business people or tourists. They pick easy targets, people who have had a bit to drink or people who are distracted by what’s going on around them. Don’t carry your passport around with you. Keep your valuables secure; if you’re male then the front pocket of your pants is a whole lot harder to get into than an inside jacket pocket; if you’re female ALWAYS wear your handbag facing front, that is, keep it against your chest and never slung over your shoulder behind you.

Watch out for scams. Three card monty is the oldest con in the book, whether it’s played with 3 cards or with 3 cups and a pea. Nobody ever wins. Nobody. Ever. When you see someone winning you are looking at one of the conman’s friends. He’ll have several, and every now and again one will win a lot of money, this convinces the mark that the game is one that can be won. It can’t. The winner will walk off, but within 30 minutes he’ll be back to win again. Even stopping to watch the game makes you a mark, because you’ll find yourself in a small compressed bunch of people, and it’s easy to pick-pocket anyone when others are pressed against them. If you stop, make sure that you have empty space all around you and keep an eye out for people trying to move closer.

The main danger areas are Las Ramblas, the walkways leading to the beach and all along the beach, the beach itself, Plaza Espana, Plaza Reial, and Plaza Catalunya.

Beware of youths riding scooters! One of the most common methods of theft is the use of the scooter, and you should be especially wary where you see a passenger on the back. They fly past and whip bags from shoulders, which can often lead to the victim being injured if they are dragged to the ground. However, this can only happen if you’re not looking at them, so if you hear a bike behind you, always turn to see what’s up.

Finally, use your common sense. There are areas of the city that are obviously dodgy late at night, if you’re walking alone stick to the main thoroughfares and avoid the many poorly lit, narrow back streets. If you’ve had too much to drink, take a cab – they’re quite cheap. Always keep a sheet of paper with the address of your apartment on it, and just hand this to the driver when you get in. But beware, don’t loiter outside the cab, and be careful of your bag as you climb in as you are particularly vulnerable at that moment.

So. The trick to a crime free holiday is using common sense. Enjoy your stay!!

How to always get the best air fares online

GETTING THE BEST AIRLINE PRICES ONLINE.

I am very good at getting the best airline prices. It takes practice and a whole load of cunning but is a viable proposition that saves you thousands over the course of a year.

AIRFARE COMPARISON SITES

Airfare comparison sites are pretty good for long haul flight prices. You type in your data, your requirements, and let the site do the sorting. When given a price, take a note of what dates you used and flying times, and try again with an earlier or later flight time. If that doesn’t turn up a better price, look at the alternative of traveling on another day, as weekday and weekend rates differ, and if you have a level of adjustment in the dates you travel, this really can make a difference to the price you pay.

Another great way of using these sites to your advantage is to look at the travel insurance aspect of the site. See what the travel insurance covers. Here, I found that you can have cover that will protect you against changing the dates of travel, which is marvelous as a tool to bring down prices. Armed with this information, you can look at other criteria for your flight, book a shorter time abroad, and actually change your flight coming home without extra cost.

Looking for example for a flight to Barcelona, I was able to make a saving of over 100 pounds by using the Insurance to my advantage, and changing my home flight while in Barcelona.

NO FRILLS AIRLINES

There are many choices available these days in no frill airlines. For me, the ones that matter are Flybe and Ryanair. Both offer flights at discounted prices, and having a browser up for both companies, if you do a comparable search, the difference in price can be astounding. Beware of hidden costs. Taxes, Insurance and Baggage costs can up the prices given, so don’t be too quick to book.

Again on these flight booking sites, by flipping back a day or two, or forward a day or two you can make huge savings. For my mother-in-law’s trip to our home, I was able to save myself around 70 Pounds just by using both sites, looking at alternative airports that are reachable at this end, and also at what they offer in their special offer area as well as changing the criteria of dates.

One of the great things about no frills airlines is that the earlier you book, the more advantageous the price you receive. Booking three months in advance, I saved a fortune.

There are wonderful bargains to be had. Long haul holiday flights booked at the last minute are a superb way of bagging that bargain. These are seats that airlines want to fill, and are certainly worth it to the traveler on a budget.

Things to watch out for.

Low budget airlines have a habit of changing their flights at short notice, and will email you alternatives. Be quick with your reply of acceptance because a total change may cost you more.

Never press that confirm button until you are completely sure of what you are getting for your money.

Be aware that the tickets supplied by these companies are not the traditional tickets, but are electronic ones and do take all confirmations with you when you go to fly.

There are amazing value trips on the Internet and by doing your homework, you really can save money, as well as having an enjoyable experience.

The Truth About Lloret De Mar! Its a Little Taste of Paradise

You can reach Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava by flying to Barcelona or Gerona airports. Gerona is about 40k from the coast and takes about 40 minutes to get there but Barcelona is around 90k away and the transfer takes about an hour to Lloret.

The main coastal resorts near Lloret de Mar are Roses, Tossa de Mar, Santa Susana, Calella, Pineda, Malgrat and Blanes.

What are the hotels like? There is every kind of hotel and apartment complex you could imagine in Lloret. All-inclusive hotels, self-catering apartments, a hostel, small tent city and probably many other places as well.

We stayed at the Blau apartments half way up Lloret high street and, the hotel Rosamar, which is on the opposite side of all the shops and narrow streets, near the beach.

Our room at the Blau was quite nice, fridge and TV, balcony and good-sized bathroom but rather noisy though being above the high street. The staff at the apartments not too friendly and the facilities substandard. There is a tiny roof pool full of kids and the laundry facilities consist of a washing machine in a room, which was always flooded.

A major plus was having a supermarket right next door. The supermarket had everything we needed as we went self-catering, and what we couldn’t get we only had to take a short walk up the high street.

The hotel Rosamar was quite different though. The room was very basic and the whole ambiance of the hotel was depressing. My wife and I chose to go half board this time, thinking we would save on washing up, cleaning the apartment etc.

Bad mistake! The food was terrible and very poor quality for the whole two weeks but because it was so cheap to eat out, we did have many evening meals out and even some breakfasts we skipped and went to our favourite pizza restaurant for brunch near the hotel. Sat watching over the beach, sun beating down, large jug of sangria, aaah yes, paradise in Lloret.

Anyway, the Rosamar had a nice big pool, plenty of umbrellas and sun beds, Jacuzzi, gym, sauna and activities for the kids. The evening entertainment in the hotel was varied and lively. We met a great couple called Graham and Rosemary, we spent many nights with them sat in the corner of the entertainment lounge drinking and talking until the small hours.

How about the nightlife? The nightlife of Lloret is wild! There are plenty of pubs and clubs run by English people, the most popular probably being The Queen Vic, Texas and The Seven Seas. There was a great pub called the white Horse but this is now closed down.

You can even find a few theme bars in Lloret. A rock bar, disco place, clubs open until 4 or 5 in the morning, Rockafellas is one and don’t go to the Flamingo hotel unless you want to see a little more flesh than you normally would in a public place. There are burger places and kebab houses open all night long not too mention all the fast food restaurants open all the time.

And the daylife…? The day life is quite relaxed. The Costa Brava might have a reputation for being the wild and rugged coast of Spain, but remember, this is Spain and in Spain everything goes slow and no one misses an afternoon siesta. If you have kids, take them to the Water Park at Lloret, it is fantastic and you could easily spend a whole day there. There is a marine life centre, and there are some fantastic bays and beaches to visit all around Lloret.

Best way to reach all the bays and coves is by very reasonably priced water taxis. You won’t regret your little trips up and down the coast, the coastline is amazing! Tossa de Mar, Santa Susana, Santa Christina, Blanes and a few others. Our favourite? Santa Christina, there can’t be many places in the world where you have a sandy beach, restaurant and bar and fast food all in one place, with not too many people? Sounds to good to be true, but its not!

As you cruise up and down the coast you will see old castles, rugged cliffs and churches you can see for miles. They have the glass bottom boats so you can visit the uninhabited islands off the coast where there is plenty of marine life to watch under the boat, fish, octopus etc… or you can sit on the top deck, see everything, and have an ice cream or soft drink.

If you find yourself with a spare morning or afternoon, the old church right in the centre of Lloret is beautiful. See if you can get inside. They will not let you take pictures but it is worth the hassle of talking to the person in charge to get a peep inside.

We took a trip on the little train that does the rounds on the streets. Thinking it was a way to kill an hour and would be a good chance for an afternoon kip, we were pleasantly surprised. After about 5 minutes we were heading out of Lloret and up into the hills. The little train carried us past stunning villas and the view from the top of the hill was breathtaking. There is a man who takes a camcorder and you can buy a video of the whole experience, great souvenir to bring home.

If you want to get out of Lloret for a day, try, Montserrat, Andorra, Barcelona, Vic and one or two other places away from Lloret but near enough away for a day trip. I recommend all the above, especially Barcelona. If you go there, visit Goudy’s church, the football stadium and the kids will love the zoo. Whilst you have lunch at the café in the zoo, you can watch the giraffes up close and very personal.

At the bottom of Lloret high street there is a children’s carousel and up the top of the high street there is an adult’s carousel. You could probably take the kids on both but the one at the top of the street is double decked and has a very cozy Cinderella’s coach.

Spanish Tourism Flying High

Do you need a change from the Caribbean Calypso or the Hawaiian Hula? You can always try the Spanish Flamenco. With tourism numbers up in Spain in recent years, many continue to do just that.

Visits to Spain increased in 2006 and 2007 over previous years and the forecast is for continued growth. What is spurring the influx of tourists into this European country?

One reason is the predictable, pleasant, summer weather Spain enjoys. This is especially attractive to Northern Europeans who tolerate damper climes. The chance to escape to days filled with sun, sand, and afternoon beach snoozing is very attractive.

Another reason travelers come to Spain is that it’s an affordable destination. Tourists receive value for their money because of competitive pricing for travel and accommodation. Hotels are upgrading their facilities and their services as well. This is because many tourists seek private homes as their Spanish holiday abodes, away from traditional hotels. Therefore the hotels have to offer better value to keep the customers coming.

The 1992 Barcelona Olympics planted the seeds for future tourism growth in Spain. A worldwide audience received a fresh introduction or re-introduction to this Mediterranean hotspot, which got the ball rolling. It hasn’t stopped.

It rolled into Valencia in 2007 for the 32nd America’s Cup yachting spectacular. One million people came to the city, the third largest in Spain, for this event. There’s the spin-off effect, too as some of these people choose to visit other areas of Spain while in the country. Again, the stature of this event gave the country exposure, which in itself leads to more growth in tourism down the road.

In fact, Valencia has the highest increase in tourism of any European city in recent years. Madrid and Barcelona still rank higher in number of tourists who visit Spain.

One fantastic futuristic tourist attraction in Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences. This attraction, with its modern white buildings, is a complex of museums, an aquarium, and a planetarium. It also has an opera house and the Palace of the Arts. This ‘city’ sits in Turia Gardens, a drained river turned park.

Four types of tourism are contributing to the healthy growth of visitor numbers to Spain. They are:

* Internal tourism: Spaniards are traveling within their country more. They are retiring earlier and spending more.

* Eco-tourism: This is different from a typical beach holiday. The lure here is to get back to the country. Tourists are staying in farmhouse accommodation or quaint small hotels.

* Language tourism: Every year there’s an invasion of those who come to Spain to learn…well…Spanish! Especially with the beautiful summers, it seems sunny leisure time and language lessons go well together.

* Business tourism: Spain is popular as a destination for business conferences. The travel industry reports that business travelers spend more money than people on holidays spend. Attracting business conventions is lucrative for Spain’s tourism industry.

There are always Spain’s traditional charms to get people coming back for more. Their arts heritage is rich with the history of Goya, Picasso, and Dali. There is the romance of the language and of the dance form of the Flamenco; there’s the spicy Spanish music. There are the coastal charms with areas like the Costa del Sol.

There is also the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, built in 1997, and its magnificent architecture and collections.

It’s easy to understand why people are flying to Spain in droves – and driving and sailing there as well from other European countries.

Spain’s tourist industry has a bright future ahead- as sunny as its splendid summers.

La Mercé Festival Of Barcelona

Towards the end of September Barcelona begins to limber up for the largest event on its festival calendar, La Mercé, a celebration of the city’s patron saint “Mare de Deu de la Mercé”. The festival heralds the end of summer and the onset of the autumn months. The festival is a real big deal for the people of Barcelona and the still temperate weather means that, in true Mediterranean fashion, must of the fun takes place outside. There’s a massive amount to do whilst the festival is on with events popping up all over the city and over 3000 artists and performers on display with over 500 activities to watch or take part in. The festival has a long and proud and first took place in 1902; today it’s a fantastic blend of tradition and innovation.

You’d really need to write a novel to keep on top of everything that goes on at La Mercé each year so, we’ll just have to settle for some highlights. We start with one of the oldest traditions; the human towers or “Castells” are a real must-see, sometimes as much as ten stories high they’re a fantastic display of teamwork, agility and balance.

A recurring theme throughout the festival is the celebration of fire and one of the most exhilarating experiences of La Mercé is the “Correfoc” (the “Fire Run”) where costumed fire-breathing devils rampage around the streets in a colourful pyrotechnic display. Kids absolutely love this sort of thing and audience participation is a big part as the devils chase after those foolish enough to get in their way. Another favourite of the children is the “Dragons and Giants” procession which starts in the Plaza Real next to Las Ramblas.

Foodies and wine lovers shouldn’t feel left out either as there is no shortage of indulgence in those areas. Food and wine shows run throughout the festival showcasing local produce and allow you to try and buy the best that Catalonia has to offer.

Festivities aren’t just kept on the ground either, La Mercé also celebrates the sky with static hot air balloon flights, kite displays and other aerial exhibitions taking place throughout the festival on the city’s beaches. Other areas around the city to look out for are the Centro de Cultura Contemperanea de Barcelona where you can view street theatre, Moll de la Fusta which will be giving centre stage to numerous circus acts and Plaza St Rei where various dance troupes and performing artists will be vying for your attention. There’s also a museum open day where many of the city’s museums and galleries can be entered free of charge including the Picasso museum, the Museum of History of Catalonia, the Maritime Museum and many more.

The culmination of the festivities is called “Piromusica”l – the finale involves music and a huge fireworks display choreographed together for an amazing audio-visual experience. A big named music star is usually brought in to play the finale and 2005 saw local singer and composer Pep Sala having the honour of closing out La Mercé.

For tourists La Mercé offers a perfect opportunity to see Barcelona at its best – it’s a colourful, vibrant spectacle which offers something for all age groups and all tastes. It also offers visitors the perfect opportunity to see more of this wonderful city.