When you think of August in Barcelona, what comes to mind is sunbathing on sandy beaches, splashing around in the sea, taking a stroll down La Rambla with an ice-cream, and enjoying an ice-cold beer in one of the city’s shaded squares.
It’s the quintessential Barcelona experience for which everyone comes. And yet, venture north of the city centre, and you might just stumble across something unique.
From 15–21 August, the neighbourhood of Gràcia celebrates its Festa Major. This week-long festival sees the streets of Gràcia come alive with decorations in every colour imaginable and events for all the family.
With concerts, workshops, cultural activities, food and drink stalls, here you’ll find locals and tourists alike celebrating this unmissable event of Catalan culture. Here are our top seven tips to ensure you are part of the festivities!
1. Marvel at the street decorations
If there’s one thing that sets this festival apart from other local festivals in Barcelona, it’s the unique street decorations.
Each street decides on a theme — ranging from historical periods, popular books and films to regions of the world — and competes for the annual prize. What’s more, all decorations are recycled from used materials: strips of plastic bags, cut-up plastic bottles, painted egg boxes and juice cartons, the result is a unique and sustainable work of art!
2. Catch a local concert
Every evening during the festival various streets host live concerts. From local groups, cover bands, karaoke and folk, there’s something for everyone to dance the night away into the early hours of the morning.
3. Stroll the streets during the day
Some might think the magic takes place only at night, but take a stroll around Gràcia during the day and you will discover the delights without the crowds.
With the locals all recovering from the night before, it’s a perfect opportunity to get lost in this picturesque neighbourhood and snap some stunning photographs of the decorations.
4. Visit a war bunker
If you’d like to learn a bit more about the history of the neighbourhood, during the week of the festival you can take a guided visit to one of Gràcia’s 90 air-raid shelters, for only 3 euros per person.
Located in Plaça del Diamant, this shelter is one of the biggest of the city and harboured more than 200 people during the many air raids Barcelona was subject to during the Spanish Civil War.
5. Try drinks and food
Gràcia is the ideal place for browsing the local markets and trying homemade delicacies during the day or sipping mojitos at night.
Or if you fancy meeting some locals, why not grab a ticket for a street barbecue (botifarrada)? Here theyserve traditional Catalan sausage and other local dishes. Just fill your plate, pull up a chair, and practice your Catalan!
6. Immerse yourself in Catalan culture
In the heart of Gràcia is the square Plaça de la Vila where locals come together to do castellers and correfocs.
Perhaps not for the faint-hearted, let yourself be amazed by the human towers(castellers) and the fire dances with fireworks and dragons (correfocs).
7. Watch and dance!
Just like other regions, Catalonia is no exception when it comes to a traditional dance.
La Sardana is a humble dance performed hand in hand in a circle in representation of Catalan union. But that’s not all; the streets will be buzzing with batucada, swing, and much more!
If you’re looking for something different this summer in Barcelona where you can discover the city’s more traditional side, head to the Festa Major de Gràcia. Just like us, you’re sure to fall in love with this neighbourhood and its marvellous festivities.