Without a doubt, August is the best time to come to Barcelona. As well as the glorious Mediterranean sunshine, countless music festivals, and over 5km of golden sand, the Festa Major de Gràcia returns to the city for the most anticipated summer event all year round.
This annual neighbourhood fiesta begins on Thursday August 15th and takes place in the streets of the picturesque Gràcia area in celebration of the neighbourhood. Although Gràcia is best known as the home of Gaudí’s Park Güell, the barrio typically has fewer tourists than the city centre of Barcelona, and those visiting here can often get a true sense of Catalan life like in the other smaller districts surrounding the city.
These days, it is a very hip area with a laid-back bohemian vibe where students, artists, academics, and families live. It is these who come together to put on this awesome neighbourhood fiesta.
“The Best Decorated Street”
The main attraction of the Festa Major de Gràcia is a contest for best-decorated street. Each year, around 20 streets and squares take part, designing their alleyways in extremely elaborate fashions that cover a variety of impressive themes. This year, 24 streets will take part in the competition (the highest number of streets since 2001 when 25 streets took part). Previous themes include ‘Under the Sea’, ‘Ancient Rome’, ‘Pacman’, and ‘The Jungle Book.’
The award ceremony for this year’s competition, will take place in the evening on the 17th of August in Plaça de la Vila, and the hard work and jaw dropping creativity of the neighbours does not go unnoticed as thousands visit the neighbourhood every year to take part in the festivities or admire the decorations.
The first day of the festival, August 15th, is also known as the Day of Assumption, when the Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven is celebrated. Since it is a public holiday in Barcelona, this is often one of the biggest days of partying.
As well as the outstanding decorated streets, visitors can discover some of the many regional traditions such as the Correfoc (a fire run where people dress as devils and dance to the beating of drums while shooting fireworks from their pitchforks), Castellers (human towers that stack themselves high above the ground- sometimes up to 8 stories high), Bastoners (stick dancers), Gegants (giants made from papier-mâché and cloth that can be several metres tall), and Capgrossos (big-heads).
Festival coordinators organise a great programme full to the brim with activities for all ages. Food tastings, habanera singing, foam parties, children’s activities, an open-air cinema, and even live concerts. Some of the groups taking to the stage this year are Joan Colom, Marilluïssa, Melenas, Power Burkas, DJ Waterparties, among many more…
A Community Celebration
The Festa Major de Gràcia is a true celebration of the neighbourhood and its residents who make the festival possible. Therefore, it is not uncommon to walk through the streets and see 8 tables pushed together to make room for the whole block so they can all sit, eat, and drink with one another. The barrio’s main square, Plaça de la Vila, will be packed with various shows and exhibitions, jazz, rock, and classical music concerts, traditional Catalan food, and of course, plenty of drinks. But the party will continue into the early hours of the next day, in every street and square in Gràcia.
La Festa Major de Gràcia is definitely not your average neighbourhood block party. Instead, it is a truly unforgettable event that you truly do not want to miss out on should you find yourself in Barcelona this August.