From August 15 to 21 the district of Gracia throws Barcelona’s popular Festa Major, an annual street party that goes on for a week and a huge attraction to see the effort that neighbours put into decorating their streets.
There’s also a packed programme of concerts, events and activities happening and they include everything from traditional ‘fire runs’ or correfocs and human pyramids to contemporary music concerts and food events and this is why Fiesta de Gracia attracts yearly around 1,5 million visitors.
The earliest recorded date of the festival is in 1817, when the actual district of Barcelona was a separate small town, Vila de Gracia, just some 2km out of the big city. The main attraction of the Fiesta de Gracia are the street decorations around the neighbourhood, each with a different theme. Various streets battle it out for the most original decorations and the best takes the annual prize. This all results in some very creative transformations and handmade ornamental elements fill all corners of Gracia. They are all made by the area’s own neighbours and flood their streets with colour, life and art. Each street chooses its own theme and they use only recycled and recyclable material at their disposal – such as paper, coloured paperboard and bottles.
This practice can be tracked to the beginning of the 20th Century, with evidence that spectacular scenery was staged along the streets, including pieces from important artists of the time. In 1935, the Fairs and Festivals Committee was created, the precursor to Festa Major de Gracia Federation and if in 1975 only five streets were decorated, today there are countless streets that are transformed with a different theme every year, ranging from the Greeks and the Romans, luxuriant gardens, cartoons, countries and traditions or fairytales.
Cover image via Festa Major de Gracia official page