Archives for posts with tag: catalan culture

Summer 2019 has turned out to be quite a bit busier than I had expected, having taken on a few extra hours at work. As a result, I haven’t been able to get out and about as much as I normally do in summer.

There would be no excuse, however, for me to miss out on the annual Fest Major de Gràcia, as I am pretty much surrounded by it for its 7-day run.

As always, all of my shots are taken early in the day, before the arrivals of the bigger crowds that swarm the neighbourhood every night. Even so, the most intricately-decorated streets had not only converted into one-way passages, but there were also staff at the entrance to control the number of people entering. This meant that even at 11 in the morning there was a block-long line of people waiting to get into some of the streets. That said, the line moved fast, and once inside, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it had been in past years, making it much easier to move, and to snap a few photos free of people.

The themes this year varied, from Harry Potter, to a tribute to miners, to Halloween, to the library after closing, to a 50s-style American diner.

There were a few incidents however, include a pair of sexual assaults of women on their way home late at night, and a suspicious fire, which destroyed most of a street which had been decorated with an ocean theme. Unfortunate incidents seem to be a side effect of a festival, and indeed a city, which has become a victim of its own success.

As every year, the Gràcia festival is followed by the slightly smaller festival of the Sants neighbourhood. I will try to get a few pictures before it wraps up.

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For my second entry this month of August, I present the annual coverage of the Festa Major de Gràcia, in which my neighbors decorate various streets around the “vila” and the nights are punctuated with the noise of concerts, correfocs (fire runners), drumming groups, and masses of tourists. The event is considered the biggest of the year in Barcelona, perhaps a bit too big for the narrow streets that make this area so special.

Despite the crowds, which are normally fairly well-behaved, I do love to get out and see the creativity and resourcefulness (decorations are recycled, and as a rule, sustainable) of the Barcelonins. As the not-so-beloved ex-Spanish President Rajoy once said, while trying to seduce the independence-minded: “Los catalanes hacen cosas”. (Catalans do stuff). Certainly has a way with words.

On a final note, an ex-colleague of mine has started producing some very clever insider travel videos about Barcelona. Be sure to check out his channel here.

 

The annual Festa Major de Gràcia, which takes place in mid-August, began as all the others I’ve witnessed here over the years: the week or two of frenetic preparations, the blocking of streets, the quiet buzz before the tsunami of tourists and locals that would descend upon our normally tranquil little village. However, on the 17th, which was the third day of festivities, the Rambla attacks took place, and cast a shadow on the remaining days of the festival. The Spanish president declared three days of mourning, and all the more raucous night time activities, such as concerts, were cancelled. The decorations stayed up, and the daytime, family-oriented activities continued as usual, but from Thursday evening on, there was an eerie calm in the crowds.

People still came, but the crowds were noticeably thinner, though as the initial shock wore off, more people began to make their way up.

The themes this year were varied, from the Petit Principe, to demons and devils, to rock and roll, to The Neverending Story, Ghostbusters, and the Bolshevik Revolution, to my personal favorite of any theme so far, John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, complete with a giant figure of Divine as herself, the “Filthiest Person Alive”.

This year’s winning entry was themed after a ski resort in the Pyrenees, complete with falling snow.

 

The phrase “operación retorno” refers to the slow, but steady reverse exodus back to the cities (and reality) after the August holidays. I’m fortunate to start off with a fairly abbreviated schedule in order to ease myself back into the routine. To close off the month of August, and the lazy, hazy summer of 2016, I present to you the second installment of the photo highlights from the Festa Major of Gràcia.

Just yesterday, the annual Festa Major of Gràcia came to a fiery end with the Correfocs (fire runners) spreading sparks through the narrow streets of the neighborhood. The sea (including lots and lots of my favorite animal, the jellyfish) was a recurring theme in the decorated streets this year. Indeed, this year’s first prize winner was a brilliant under-the-sea motif featuring a giant fisherman, whose feet became the victims of vandals later in the week. In case you’re curious, here is a list of this year’s winners (in Catalan). Worth noting is that habitual winner Verdi has fallen to 7th position, with a California/Holywood-themed decor. Other themes included theatre, birthday party, a fantasy plant world, a commemoration of 20 years of participation, and women’s history.

Without further ado, here is the first installment of shots from this year’s grand festival.