A dragon is heading up the street, dancing not so ferociously under a sky of papier-mâché. Bursts of fireworks go off next to the monster as a parade of people follow him. As Dorothy famously said to Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Barcelona’s Festa Major de Grácia creates a version of the Land of Oz in the streets of the Grácia neighborhood. As the 196th year of the neighborhood block party approaches, you will want to make your way to Barcelona for this historic, zany, creative and entertaining festival.
What is it?: Barcelona’s Festa Major de Grácia is essentially a giant, over the top neighborhood block party. Ending the summer with a bang, the festival centers on the street decorations of Barcelona’s Grácia neighborhood. This isn’t your standard neighborhood competition. The locals take this competition so seriously that the streets become more like public art displays. Each year, a different theme is selected for residents to follow. A winner is chosen for the best streets. However, the Festa Major de Grácia is not solely about décor. These locals know how to party, putting on concerts, parades and dances throughout the week.
What can I expect?: As the Festa Major de Grácia is all about celebrating the neighborhood, you can expect massive parties in the streets. The whole event kicks off with a huge parade complete with giants, big heads and dragons. These characters make appearances throughout the week. Throw in lively concerts and human tower building and you have the makings of an entertaining time in Barcelona.
Where is it?:
The Festa Major de Grácia takes place in the Grácia neighborhood of Barcelona. Depending on your ability and where you are based in the city, you can easily reach the neighborhood on foot or by utilizing the Barcelona metro system. If you think the events of the Festa Major de Grácia will trickle outside of the neighborhood, you will quickly meet crickets and quiet. As the festival is largely based upon the residents of the Grácia neighborhood, all of the events and activities take place within its grid of streets.
When is it?: The Festa Major de Grácia takes place in mid August. This year’s Festa Major de Grácia is held from August 15th through the 21st. Even if you can’t make it for a few days of the festival, you can expect hundreds of activities throughout the week. The weeklong celebration is one of Barcelona’s biggest parties of the summer.
Tips and Tricks: The Festa Major de Grácia is one party in Barcelona you don’t want to show up late to. While it spans a week, most of the big parades and celebrations center on the first few days of the festival. For example, if you want to see the streets and all of their elaborate decorations, you need to arrive in the first few days of the festival. The award for best-decorated street is handed out on the second day of the event. After that time, the decorations start to deteriorate with festival wear and tear. While the Festa Major de Grácia is free to attend, shops, restaurants and bars will all be selling their products, usually with some street-side stands. Drinks come at a euro or two so bring lots of change with you for festival purchases.
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