The Gracia festival is the most known of Barcelona’s summer street parties
The Gracia festival takes place every year from August 15 through the 21: you can’t go wrong when planning your next Barcelona vacation! Basically it is a festival organized by and for the Gracia residents and its neighboring towns, all of whom are very welcoming towards their visitors. This popular street festival truly represents a chance for them to maintain their own identity in an increasingly cosmopolitan neighborhood: once a separate village from the city, the Gracia neighborhood is located just in the heart of Barcelona.
The Festa Major is an explosion of creativity. When I look at the photos I took, I still have clear in my mind the memories of the colors of the decorations. Probably the one I liked the most was inspired to the four natural elements – fire, air, water and earth. The streets were all colored in different ways and I felt like I were in a magical world.
The themed decorations are prepared for months in advance by the neighborhood associations. It is a true competition and decorations are often veritable artworks mostly made by recycled materials. An ordinary road can be transformed into a jungle or an underwater scene, giving everyone a strong feeling of local charm and identity. The Japanese Garden of Carrer de Verdi Street won the 2015 competition with its huge dragon, a forest of wisteria with even a small temple inside.
The Festa Major is also music, shows and folklore for an entire week. On many plazas in the Gracia neighborhood there are concert stages and stalls offering food and drink (…I hope you get the chance to taste a wonderful mojito prepared by a sweet Cuban mamacita as I enjoyed!). Like all Catalan festivals, the Festa Major features a rich presence of Catalan traditions as the competitions of castellers (amazing human towers worth seeing live!) or the correfoc (fire run), where groups of men dressed as devils dance in the streets and spit out sparks from fireworks attached to forks. During the week you can also find an extensive daytime program of activities for families and children suitable for your Barcelona vacation.
The first day of the festival is a public holiday for Spain and the streets are usually very crowded. I recommend you visit Gracia in the evening at dusk: illuminations are switched on and the colors of the decorations shine like in a magical parallel universe.