A conference to reflect on the connection between festivals, religions and cultural plurality in Barcelona

The conference ‘Popular culture, festival and religion: Popular forms of religion in Barcelona’ will be held on 18, 19 and 20 June in the La Casa dels Entremesos events room. It will consist of a series of panel discussions, routes and activities about religious diversity and the popular festivals held in Barcelona.

The conference is being organised by the Office for Religious Affairs (OAR) with the participation of the commission of the Popular Culture and Conflict working group of the Catalan Institute of Anthropology.

The activities are FREE OF CHARGE, with limited capacity and PRIOR REGISTRATION. Check the PROGRAMME and REGISTRATION below.


Any community’s calendar of festivals is one of the foundations of its shared identity, inasmuch as festivals become spaces of encounter and participation. Therefore, any celebration also has a ritual component, which is even more noticeable in explicitly religious festivals, where spirituality links up with tradition, everyday experience and the social foundations of each community.

With the goal of reflecting on these connections, the Office for Religious Affairs (OAR) is organising the conference entitled ‘Popular culture, festival and religion: Popular forms of religion in Barcelona’, which focuses on the situation in Barcelona. The city stands out for its vitality and is characterised by extraordinary plurality, which is not always reflected in its official calendar of festivals or in the most recognised, visible celebrations. However, the fact is that this trend has been transforming in recent decades, and this calendar has gradually expanded, such that everything recognised as culture in the city has also evolved. Several examples of this include the Barcelona Interculturality Plan for 2021–2030 and the Barcelona Cultural Rights Plan, whose goal is to recognise and promote the intercultural perspective in recognition of the right to practise and exercise one’s own culture.

From this perspective, it is imperative to include religious and spiritual plurality in order to design actions that cater to and accurately represent the city’s cultural plurality and the multiple expressions of collective piety that have gradually introduced new elements into Barcelona’s festival landscape. However, these new elements have almost always been separate from the official religious festivals and often feature groups who are far from the social elites. Nonetheless, all expressions, from Palm Sunday to the procession of the Mercè, the Hare Krisha Harinama and the Shiite Ashura, share the feature of using the city of Barcelona’s streets and squares as their backdrop, turning them into spaces where the communities celebrating can proclaim their identity and challenge the voices that predicted that the secularisation process would expel religiosity from the public sphere.

The conference ‘Popular culture, festival and religion: Popular forms of religion in Barcelona’ will examine different issues related to these dynamics by opening a space of debate about the existing celebrations and shedding light on the practices that could be introduced to work towards real recognition of the city’s religious/spiritual and cultural reality and the full exercise of cultural rights by the different communities in the city. After all, the right to religious freedom is also the right to publicly express one’s own beliefs and thus one’s own culture.

The venue where the conference will be held also reflects its central tenets. Designed as a cultural facility to promote popular culture, especially Barcelona’s popular culture, La Casa dels Entremesos is the perfect venue to hold this conference, where the reflection will be accompanied by the celebration of the cultural plurality that is now an inherent part of the city.

All of this will be accomplished with a programme that encompasses different formats. It will begin with an opening lecture by Amadeu Carbó, who will explain the different lines of debate to be explored by the different panels. Specifically, over the course of three days, four panel discussions will be held with representatives of both academia and the religious, spiritual and faith communities found in Barcelona. The first panel, ‘Barcelona, pluri-religious city’, will bring together different inter-religious institutions or ones that work in the field of religious dialogue to reflect on the implications of the city’s religious plurality. The second panel, ‘Towards a new calendar of festivals?’, will feature institutional representatives from different departments facing the issues debated at this conference, who will discuss the steps being taken to create an intercultural calendar of festivals. The third panel, ‘Religious expressions in the public space’, will give a voice to the different communities that currently encounter or have encountered difficulties moving and making their celebrations visible on the streets. Finally, the last panel, entitled ‘Experiences towards an intercultural calendar of festivals’, will feature a host of organisations that have been working to come up with intercultural calendars of festivals in more local spheres and in the city’s districts.

Part of the conference will also feature a range of activities that will enable participants to reflect on the diversity of festivals in the city of Barcelona. First, there will be a film forum in which different communities talk about the image of the city conveyed around the world via the videos and images that circulate their celebrations in the city. Secondly, two routes will be held around Barcelona’s streets, which will encourage participants to learn about the religious heritage and communities found in the city from both a current and historical perspective.

These sessions will close with a celebration in Plaça del Pou de la Figuera.

The ‘Popular culture, festival and religion: Popular forms of religion in Barcelona’ conference is part of a series of activities organised with the goal of promoting and working to guarantee the defence of cultural rights in Barcelona. The debate entitled ‘Whose popular culture?’ will be held within this framework, an activity co-organised by Espai Avinyó and Fes! Cultura, in conjunction with the Office for Religious Affairs as part of the Festival #AccióMigrant2024. The debate will be held on 21 June at the Fabra i Coats Creation Factory.

Check the complete PROGRAMME HERE (Catalan)!


The activities are free of charge, with limited capacity and prior registration. You have to register for the conference in order to register for the routes, which also have a limited capacity.

Access the registration form HERE!

If you have any accessibility requirements, please let us know when registering by emailing activitatsoar@bcn.cat or phoning 679710445 before 13 June 2024.

You can keep up to date with the workshop using the hashtag: #OarBCN and on Instagram @bcn_interculturalitat.

See you there!