Festa Major de Gràcia 2023

Festa Major de Gràcia dragon

The Gracia Festival

Throngs of locals and tourists alike flock to the streets of the up-town district of Gràcia in Barcelona every month of August. The week-long festival sees the cozy streets of the barrio spring to life with mesmerizing decorations (engalaments), colorful displays, and a full menu of events, contests, and tournaments.

Learn everything you need to know about Barcelona’s most-awaited street festival, including the dates, brief history, and what to expect.

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History of La Fiesta de Gràcia

The colorful and highly acclaimed history of Festa Major de Gràcia dates as far back as 1817. A case in point is Francesc Curet’s iconic historical book Muralles Enllà, which details the debut festival in the streets of Gràcia on August 15, 1817. It tells of a celebratory procession that was held in honor of bringing back the Virgin Mary’s sacred image to the Masia de Can Trilla. The image had been hidden in the convent of Jesus, safe from potential destruction during the French War.

When that happened, the village residents celebrated with popular snacks, dances, and other forms of fanfare. It was later decided that the day would be honored annually on August 15. It would be noted that the origin of Festa Major is often considered controversial.

street decorated for gracia purple flowers

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While some people celebrate the day in honor of Our Lady of August (Virgin Mary), others attribute Festa Major de Gràcia to St. Roch. Saint Roch’s Day is also observed. The neighbors and townspeople pay their respects to the famous Catholic saint. The Castellers of Vila de Gràcia erect a pillar of offering to him, complete with Gracia’s typical celebratory imagery.

La Fiesta de Gràcia is a fairly youthful event, much akin to the town of Gràcia itself, a little hamlet of peasants that underwent an astonishing transformation as a town of artisans, laborers, and small traders in the nineteenth century. It grew from 3,062 people in 1828 to 61,935 in 1875. The festival’s origins are almost synonymous with the town’s urbanization.

The earliest known mention of the festival was in 1817 when a gathering in honor of Our Lady of August was recorded at the Can Trilla farmhouse. During the second decade of the nineteenth century, the celebration became more civic rather than religious, with various institutions and organizations contributing.

However, according to a remark published in the Diari de Barcelona on August 19, 1827, signed by the historian Francesc Curet, the forcible relocation was caused by the demolition of the Franciscan convent of Jesus.

Under the impulse of various labor and entertainment groups, such as athenes or dancing societies, the festivities that were consolidated in the mid and the late 19th century were characterized in a more civic rather than religious sense. In the second part of the 19th century, specific Graciense groups, such as Centro Graciense, La Amistad Graciense, and Bella Hortensia, started decorating their gardens for the Festa Major. Later, they’d place branching arches in the core main streets, and these embellishments gradually became increasingly elaborate.

The original Festa Major evolved and expanded over time, so much so that there were over 100 decorated sections of the streets by the turn of the 20th century. However, the need to organize collectively under a single entity did not emerge until 1935, an initiative that was ended prematurely by the onset of the Civil War. The project to bring the event together could not be resurrected until 1956 when the Board of the Federation of Streets of the Festa Major de Gràcia was founded.

The earliest mention of decorating contests and tournaments was in 1877, whereby the shops were meant to be decorated. The District Council wouldn’t begin giving awards to the top contestants until the 1920s. By this point, the majority of the streets, including main streets like Travessera de Gràcia and Gran de Gràcia, came alive with lively parties, decorations, and revelers during the festival.

Residents organize street festivals in order to bring the neighbors together in communal events, festivities, and activities. Today, Festa Major is the highlight of Barcelona’s busy event calendar. It has become so huge that it has been awarded the St George’s Cross and, consequently, the government of Catalonia has declared it a “Traditional Festival of National Interest.”

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What is Festa Major de Gràcia Festival?

As the name suggests, the Festa Major de Gràcia is held yearly in Gràcia. The barrio is an inviting up-town district in Barcelona, famous for its vibrant café & bar life, bustling squares, and relaxed bohemian vibe.

During the Gràcia neighborhood festival, more than 20 streets, plazas, and buildings of the barrio will be awash with colorful displays, amazing decorations, and lots of local foods & drinks. The contests & tournaments are at the heart of the festival.

The festival boasts a diverse and extensive program of over 500 fun activities, most of which are geared towards children and families. The majority of these activities are specifically designed for local Gràcians, but visitors can enjoy a variety of free street décor, displays, and concerts.

When is the Gràcia festival 2023?

The Festa Major of Gràcia festival usually takes place each year in the month of August. This year, the festival will take place between August 15 and 21.

The festivities run until 3.30 am on Friday and Saturday, and 2 am on weekdays. The only exceptions are Plaza Revolució, Plaza Diamant, and Plaza Sol, which stay open until 2.30 am on Friday & Saturday, and 1 am on weekdays.

How do I get here?

It’s easy to get to Gràcia from Barcelona’s central business district. Simply take the metro (Green line, L3) from where you are to Fontana.

The metro stops smack dab in the middle of Gràcia, from where you can begin to explore the fun-filled fiesta.

Do you need a ticket?

Thankfully, the festival is free of charge to attend and enjoy. Gràcia festival is fully open to the masses, so you won’t have to purchase any tickets for all events.

For more information about Festa Major de Gràcia 2022, check out the official website here.

 

people walking down a street decorated for gracia

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