The best festivals of Barcelona return to the streets and this year they are celebrating their 200th year anniversary! What can be expected is a celebration unlike any other year, as Gràcia will go all out in its bicentennial celebration. If your trip happens to coincide with these dates, by coincidence or on purpose, it’s a can’t miss celebration. Street competitions for best decorations, live music, dancing, and a plethora of activities await as the Vila de Gràcia celebrates its Festa Mayor of 200 years!
A bit of History
Gràcia itself was founded in 1626 by group of Carmelite monks known as the Josepets, when they founded a church known as La Nostra Senyora de Gràcia (Our Lady of Grace). Gràcia was incorporated into part of Barcelona officially in 1897 as part of Barcelona city’s expansion outwards. The festival itself was first documented in 1817 in the book Muralles enllà, by Francesc Curet as part of his collection, Visions de Barcelonines 1760-1860. After the Napoleonic wars, Antoni Trilla opened his chapel to the religious objects of the Franciscan monks who needed a place of storage as they built their new convent. The transplantation of the image of their Mare de Deu (Mother of God) was met the following year with a large dance by the citizens of the area and is celebrated every August 15th, which coincides with the Assumption of Mary to heaven, a holiday through Spain. In 1862 the first streets started to be decorated during the festivals, a tradition that while it was slowed down and marred in the years under Franco, has made a full recovery and now sees a very ambitious competition amongst the locals to see who can best dress their streets.The Festival is, today, a seven day event that sees many natives and visitors alike flock to Gràcia during the event to partake in the festivities. Last year an estimated 2.3 million visitors attended! This year the festival aims to be even better as it celebrates 200 years!
What to do
The festival is filled with activities for all ages throughout each day. Here are some suggestions to see while you are in town. Various concerts run all week so be sure to check those out as you make your way around the neighborhood. This year a new addition to the festival is the use of reusable cups which can be purchased and returned at all of the stalls set up throughout the streets.
13:00 The Parade kicks off the opening day of the festivals starting at the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
18:00 The Cercavila de Cultura Popular will be all over Gràcia, and will be a good opportunity to see all of the traditional Catalan characters in action.
18:30 Traditional Catalan Sardana dances in the Plaça del Diamant
22:00 Swing Class will be held in Plaça del Diamant
10:30 Cercavila de Sant Roc will start in the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia and travel around the neighborhood
18:00 Visit the Bunkers from the Civil War in Plaça del Diamant
19:30 Diada de les Colles in Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
20:00 The Castellers will be in display in Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
22:00 Check out the cinema at the open air theater on Carrer Mozart, they will be showing Rocky Horror Picture Show
18:30 Banda Reggae is playing in the Carrer Berga
20:00 The Castellers will be on display again in the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
10:00 The parade of the Giants (Gegants) throughout the village
19:30 The Castellers with a twist, will be not just building the traditional human towers, but walking versions of them. Starting in Plaça del Sol and ending in the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia After will be the Tast de Gracia for your chance to try food from all over Europe at the Sopar Europa
11:30 There is a waterballon fight going down on Carrer Joan Blanques
18:00 Diada dels Castellers. The other days were only warm-ups, now for the real show! The Castellers will again be performing in the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
10:00 Passejada de Gegantons. The traditional characters will be dancing around the village
21:30 The closing event is the Correfoc, a must see event if you have never seen or been apart of one. The demons come out with sticks topped with fireworks spewing embers as they run around the streets while the onlookers dance under the flames. Dress for the event and wear long sleeves and pants if you want to get involved.
The activities going on always add some fun to the Festival, but the tradition of decorating the streets is what really makes the Festes de Gràcia the toast of the town. This tradition goes back to 1850 when the Town Hall of Gràcia asked the citizens to decorate their balconies and streets with branches and flowers. To celebrate the 200th year anniversary, Carrer Francisco Giner has been selected to show off the tradition. This year, with the addition of Career Jesús and Masons, 22 different areas will be joining in on the competition. Each street and square’s theme is always a well kept secret until just before the festivals. The residents work very hard to put together an entertaining display and fight for the prize each year of most creative and safest street decorations. Definitely get around and check out the exciting decorations awaiting for you. Here are the themes for 2017:
Carrer Berga Dolça Berga Sweet Berga
Carrer Ciudad Real Sense Fronteres Without Borders
Carrer Fraternitat de Baix King Kong
Carrer Fraternitat de Dalt Neverending Fratern
Carrer Jesús Metamorfasí Metamorphosis
Carrer Joan Blanques de Baix Hi ha una vegada… Once upon a time…
Carrer Joan Blanques de Baix de tot Fot-li verd Make it green
Carrer de la Perla Pink Flamingos
Carrer Llibertat Carrer de l’Infern Street from Hell
Carrer Maspons Un Maspons de llegeda A Legendary Maspons
Carrer Mozart Rock in Mozart
Carrer Perill Circ Perill Perill Circus
Plaça Poble Romaní Rromano Rez (Celler Romaní)
Plaça de la Vila de Gracia L’essencial és invisible als ulls The essential is invisible to eyes
Plaça Rovira i Trias Fantasia en blanc White Fantasy
Placeta Sant Miquel i Rodalies Mare Nostrum Our Sea
Carrer Progrés 1917-2017 Progrès i Revolució Progress and Revolution
Carrer Providencia Pau i amor Love and Peace
Carrer Puigmartí Ghostbusters
Carrer Tordera Da Vinci
Carrer Travessia Sant Antoni Travesquia 1817m-2017m
Carrer Verdi del Mig Atmos(feres) Atmospheres
So that you can find the streets, I have included the Mobility Map of the Festivals published by the town hall to help with the movement of the visitors through out the festivals.
Have fun and enjoy the festivals!