This blog post was originally posted on August 7, 2015 and was updated on August 15, 2017.
Festa Major de Gracia is a magnificent celebration, held annually in none other than the picturesque village of Gracia. Don’t miss out on a chance to see the magic of the Gracia neighborhood festival in Barcelona!
Every August the streets of Gracia come alive with this incredible week-long fiesta that sees the area transformed. It’s one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, and not just in Gracia but in Barcelona itself! The district explodes into a mesmerizing display of vibrant street decoration, incredible atmosphere and live music that will enthrall visitors of all ages!
Throughout the year, each neighborhood celebrates their Festa Major, a cultural street fair complete with great food, drinks, live music and a variety of different events. Although there are a number of impressive festivals in Barcelona, the Gracia neighborhood festival is without doubt the most impressive of them all.
Gracia is located just north of the old city center and the Eixample district. When this festival began in 1817, Gracia was just a small independent village on the outskirts of Barcelona. However, despite being swallowed up by the big city in 1897, it still retains the feel of a small village with its tight-knit community, strong sense of identity and charming speckled streets. The Gracia neighborhood festival truly is a testament to the local community who come together each year to make this event possible. If you’re looking for the WOW factor, you’ll find it here in abundance!
Of the many aspects of the Gracia neighborhood festival, probably the most important is the elaborate street decoration competition. Throughout the month of August, you can see people working on their street, day and night! They use a multitude of recycled materials to transform the area into a creative wonderland that will have children and adults alike in awe. Each street chooses a theme, and by the time the festival starts, Gracia is almost unrecognizable. About 19 streets throughout the district compete to win the title. Participants take the competition very seriously, working meticulously for weeks before the festival commences.
Street decoration is not the only competition during this celebration! Look out for different balconies that also compete against each other for the most impressive decorations. There are usually around 50 participants in the contest, and some go to serious measures to make their balcony the best!
Although many establishments typically close in August for holidays in Barcelona, a lot of places in Gracia will open just for this special festival. You can find plenty of delicious local street food on every corner. Enjoy botifarradas, Catalan sausage barbecues to esmorzars de coca which are delicious Catalan pastry breakfast treats. The choices are endless! Rows and rows of street sellers will help you build up an appetite as you wander through the beautiful streets and squares. Don’t forget to stop and have a vermouth too! This is of course a favorite among locals in Gracia. Try it in Cal Pep, which is an authentic and welcoming local bodega we adore.
It’s hard to know where to start when talking about all of the incredible activities happening over the course of the Gracia neighborhood festival! Choose from a varied selection of workshops, races, concerts, contests and so much more!
The festival begins daily at 8 a.m. and lasts nearly 24 hours as locals and tourists alike enjoy the lively streets of Gracia. However, one event you shouldn’t miss is the Gracia neighborhood festival’s kick-off. During this parade, you will see the gegants, or giants, and capsgrossos, which means big heads. These enormous dolls parade around the neighborhood in song and dance, and are definitely a sight to be seen as they tower above the onlooking crowd.
Don’t miss the castellers, or human castle makers, who will often make a tower in the main square at the beginning of the festival. And whether you like it or not, you will undoubtedly run into the correfoc, literally meaning run fire. These are a band of pyromaniacs that set off firecrackers without abandon during the festival. Be careful—make eye contact with one and he might chase you!
Wondering when all this is happening?
The Gracia neighborhood festival always falls during mid-August, and you can find more information on the festival’s official website. From start to finish, it truly is an event not to be missed! Check out this great video, presented by one of our co-founders, James Blick to witness the magic of this Gracia neighborhood festival for yourself.