Spain’s celebrated art form has a rich tradition here in Barcelona, with dozens of tablaos where you can catch a passionate performance. We’re here to preview the best of them…
While the art of flamenco originated in southern Spain, primarily in Andalusia – where the fiery dance, soulful music, and expressive singing evolved from a blend of Roma, Arab and Jewish cultures – it also has a rich tradition in Barcelona.
Artists from Andalusia began to perform in Barcelona in the late 19th century, as a wave of immigrants from the south arrived in the prosperous region of Catalonia, which was being rapidly transformed by the industrial revolution. They brought with them their culture, and it became relatively commonplace to stumble upon an impromptu concert of guitar, clapping and percussion, accompanied by, at times joyous at others dirgeful, singing.
…you won’t have to look hard to find an authentic flamenco performance in the city of Barcelona.
No one cemented the legacy of flamenco in Barcelona more than the prodigiously talented Carmen Amaya. Born on November 2, 1913 (well probably, the date is disputed), in the Somorrostro shanty town (that once occupied Barcelona’s coastline), Carmen Amaya displayed an exceptional gift for dance from an early age and would accompany her father to perform in bars around the city. Greater things beckoned though as she moved to Madrid where her reputation grew yet bigger, until she exploded as a global star…. travelling to America and beyond, and bringing flamenco to the world’s consciousness.
Fast forward to present day, and Amaya’s influence can still be felt in the cosmopolitan Catalan capital, that continues to be a melting pot of Spanish cultures (as well as international ones), and you won’t have to look hard to find an authentic flamenco performance in the city of Barcelona.
Here are 6 of the very best places to catch a show…
1. El Tablao de Carmen
Where else to start this list of great tablaos, than the venue established as a tribute to Carmen Amaya in 1988. Tablao de Carmen is located in the Andalusian section of the romantic Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village), making this the ideal spot to sample some southern flavour in the north east of Spain. Aside from boasting the highest rated flamenco show on Get Your Guide, an advantage of choosing Tablao de Carmen is that you can enjoy a delicious Spanish dinner while watching the show (most other tablaos serve food, before or after the show, if at all). The tapas dinner is excellent, although the full Spanish dinner and VIP options are worthy upgrades if you have the budget. The tablao stages two shows a night, at 18:45 and 21:15 each night (doors open 45 mins earlier) and you can actually access Poble Espanyol for free, after 16:00, with your concert ticket (usually €12!). It’s well worth looking around the village!
2. Tablao Flamenco Cordobes
My second choice for checking out a flamenco concert would be the Tablao Flamenco Cordobes, a legend of the scene that has been showcasing the art of flamenco since 1970 and features some of the best performers in Spain. Tablao Cordobes has recreated the atmosphere of an authentic Andalusian tablao with low vaulted ceiling, offering excellent acoustics, and Moorish style tiles and decoration, and is very handily located on La Rambla. They throw three concerts a night, and you can come for just the show, or take advantage of their Spanish buffet, with 40 Spanish and Catalan specialties to choose from (including paella, Galician octopus, gazpacho and more iconic dishes from around Iberia). Tickets available on Get Your Guide.
3. Palau Dalmases
Another option in the centre of the Old Town, Palau Dalmases is the name of a stunning 17th century villa in the heart of Barcelona’s Born district. The Palau offers three flamenco shows a night (at 18:45, 20:00 and 21:15), and tickets at the back start from €30 per person. I’d be tempted to upgrade to the middle rows at least (€40, but with drink included!). Another cool option they offer is to take a walking tour of the Old Town first and then enjoy the show, plus optional tapas dinner. Book the walking tour option on Get Your Guide, or just reserve concert tickets.
4. City Hall Theatre
I know City Hall as a nightclub, but in fact this spacious venue in the centre of town has plenty of different auditoriums and they throw popular flamenco events on a nightly basis. The venue is not the most emblematic in town, but the flamenco is of a high quality and the prices are hard to beat! Tickets start at €25.
5. Los Tarantos
Established in 1963, Los Tarantos claims to be the oldest tablao still running in Barcelona! It is actually pretty cool and authentic place on the stunning Plaça Reial (one of my favourite squares!), and plays host to 4 shows a night. The prices are excellent, at just €25 a ticket, but the one drawback is the seating is done on a first come, first served basis – so you may end up standing. The shows are relatively short, at just 30-35 mins or so. If you not sure if flamenco is for you, this is a good way to get a short sharp taste of the genre. If you want to combine a concert with tapas, check out this combined activity.
6. Flamenco Show + Sailing Trip
Ok, here’s a curved ball for you… how about combining a sailing trip on the Mediterranean with a flamenco show at none other than the Palau de la Musica Catalana? The pleasures of sailing speak for themselves (it’s great to see Barcelona’s coastline from the sea!), while the Palau de la Musica Catalana is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Barcelona, designed by an illustrious peer of Gaudi. The Palau’s music hall is even more stunning than its red brick exterior, with its inverted, stained glass dome which represents the sun in the sky. Available for just €119 on Get Your Guide.
If you’re coming to Barcelona don’t forget to check out our full weekend guide, along with our list of classic and cool things to do, and some of our other coverage – such as the best bicycle tours in town!
Feature photo by Tablao de Carmen.