Archives for posts with tag: Fiesta de Gràcia

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.

 

Every August, my neighbourhood of Gràcia celebrates its annual summer festival in which many streets are decorated by the residents, concerts are held and you can find vendors selling everything to homemade soaps and crafts to cheeses and traditional food products. The population of the “barri” goes up by about tenfold and the streets are abuzz from about 10 in the morning until the local police start moving people out of the area around three in the morning.

The pictures you’ll find here are mostly daylight (as the evenings have become nearly impossible to navigate due to the crowds and seas of selfie-sticks being carelessly waved about. There are a few night shots, but only when I was fortunate enough to find a hole in the crowds.

The winner of this year’s contest was no big surprise, Verdi street, which almost always takes the grand “premi”. Verdi’s theme this year was Japan, and it seems the spring cherry blossom festival. Other street themes included Avatar (I think I’m one of three people on earth who’s not part of an uncontacted tribe who hasn’t seen the Cameron blockbuster), the four seasons (“estacions” in Catalan), one street and a plaza devoted to art and artists, a circus theme, sweets and cakes, cornfields, two radioactive waste sites, a virtual zoo (which by the time I arrived had taken quite a beating from both the rain and drunken decoration thieves), and just one protest-oriented street which is quite near my house. The protest street was inspired by the iaioflautas, a protest group who, despite their age,are one of the most active when there are street demonstrations anywhere in Spain. Another spectacular street was dedicated to the Moulin Rouge, complete with a large-scale model of the Eiffel Tower, which was cordoned off later in the week as its base began to give way.

This event is one of my favourites of the year, though it seems to be rapidly outgrowing the neighbourhood, as the number of tourists visiting Barcelona continues to grow exponentially.

You’ll note that the gallery this year is huge, so I’ve placed it after the text. It’s actually a pared-down version of what’s on my memory card. I just didn’t want to leave anyone out.

Se acabó la fiesta, Sad Clown

I found this piece a few days back, but decided to sit on it until the end of the Festa Major. This sad clown was stenciled over layers of posters by Norgwegian artist Stein. I walked by this morning as the municipal cleaning crew was pressure-washing the streets and saw that part of his face had already disappeared. Someone had placed a poster over him and when the poster was removed, it took the lower part of his frown.
I doubt it was intentional, but the expression fit very well the mood of the neighborhood this morning, as residents were crossing the damp streets carrying the remains of all the week’s decorations. Most bars and small restaurants that had been operating non-stop for the last week were shuttered, their employees enjoying some well-deserved R&R. Indeed, I ran into my friend who works at the local bodega (wine and liquor shop) and said “Se acabo la fiesta! (The party’s over!) to which he replied, “Ya era hora!”(It’s about time!).