Author: Anna MacDonald
La Festa Major de Gràcia (Gràcia Festival) is an event that takes place every August in the charming neighbourhood of Gràcia. For one week, there are constant celebrations, festivities and concerts for everybody to enjoy! Here is our guide to what is easily one of Barcelona’s favourite festivals!
The best metro station to get off at is Fontana on the green line although it can also be accessed by Joanic on the yellow line. There is no entrance fee for the festival or any of the concerts and performances. The only thing to spend money on is any food or drinks from stalls that you may wish to buy. The dates of the festival this year are the 15th to the 21st of August.
Festa Major de Gràcia began in 1817 as a celebration of the neighbourhood itself, at this time Gràcia was still a separate town to Barcelona (only joining Barcelona in the late 1800s). In the very beginning the festival was quite religious and only a handful of people would decorate their houses. In more recent years however the street decoration has become one of the main characteristics of this festival. However the town has still clung on to the traditions, as shown by the Correfoc! This year will be its 200th edition so there’s no doubt it’s going to be a big one!
Around 20 streets are dressed by its residents during the Gràcia Festival and they are completely transformed into a certain theme. The typical bunting and banners that you would normally associate with a street festival are nowhere to be seen here and instead residents create canopies from above out of paper-mache and recyclable materials as well as sculptures throughout their streets. In typical weird-and-wonderful Barcelona style, these themes can be anything from an underwater theme to a pirate theme. Sometimes it is hard to tell what the theme is but the transformation from an ordinary street in to something from a completely different world is always amazing!
Aside from the street decorating competition, the Gràcia Festival also celebrates Catalan traditions such as the Correfoc, pictured above. This is where “colles de diables” (‘groups of devils’) chase and dance to the beat of drums and spew out sparks from fireworks attached to pitch forks. It is an amazing sight but try not to get too close! You can also see the Castellers which is where human towers are built by a group of highly practised people (called Castellers). This event is normally on the Saturday but you might be able to see them practising in the pretty squares of Gràcia in the evenings beforehand! Aside from these festivities there are also lots of concerts in the streets, there is an amazing atmosphere all over this little area!
Have you been before or planning to go? Let us know in the comments!