A land of fairytales: Festa Major de Gracia
What’s up everyone?
I’m trying to wrap my head around the amazing festival that just took place last week in Barcelona: Festa Major de Gracia.
All the Catalan people I met told me about this festival with a lot of pride and insisted I should not miss it under any circumstances. Most of them told me about how beautiful the streets will be adorned so I was pretty much expecting some cute decorations on the streets topped up with a few parties here and there.
Nobody told me about how huge this thing really is. How I’ll get to witness the locals put a lot of effort into building up the carefully detailed decorations weeks before the festival opening. How during the festival they would organise long tables right in the middle of the streets where all the locals would have lunch and dinner together (I’ve seen them do this before during weekends on certain streets, but never so broad) – sometimes even for “outsiders” too. How they would organise fun activities for families with kids and parties for all tastes. And all sorts of events to enjoy or get involved into. They even had specially made T-shirts for the occasion! All in all, how they would all work together towards a mutual goal and then harvest the results together as well.
You see, Gracia was an independent municipality for about two centuries until it got engulfed by Barcelona’s expansion in 1897. This neighbourhood retains a particular charm from it’s history that I haven’t noticed anywhere else in Barcelona – you can see and feel the difference as soon as you set foot on its streets. It’s special! The typical architecture, the low-rise friendly buildings, the local life that fills the streets every day and the plazas every evening, the tiny street terraces, the cute bars and artsy shops… Gracia encompasses everything I was expecting from Barcelona when I moved here a few months ago.
This festival was a lesson about local community for me – something we don’t really have in Romania (but I’m hoping we’re slowly building towards it): knowing your neighbours and getting along with them, helping each other, having the sense you belong there – looking at them as friends or at least acquaintances and not just an unknown person who happens to live across your door. Working together side by side for a common purpose. Large cities where life is hectic usually lack this wonderful feature – but the neighborhood of Gracia still retains it.
I will be honest with you: I felt a bit like intruding. Don’t get me wrong! I did feel welcome and I loved watching everything unveil in front of my eyes, but it just felt like this was a large family party that you (and a few hundreds other foreigners) accidentally stumbled upon.
Nonetheless, I was amazed by the rich details of the decorations! While I saw many of them in the making of, I can only imagine how much work was actually required to create something like this. I wandered freely one afternoon, no map with me but with camera in hand, randomly bumping from one fairytale to another – the sunlight enhanced their beauty wonderfully and the breeze created a pleasant rustle when passing through and softly moving the materials.
But at night.. oh, my! At night the streets truly came alive! From dark, terrifying horror themes, to snowing ski lanes or superheros saving the world! Lights blinking, music filling up the air, youngsters dancing and having fun, elder people chatting loud over the tables.
Honestly, I never checked the map to see whether I succeeded discovering them all! Every day I passed through Gracia, I discovered at least one new previously missed street. If you follow my instagram stories you are already familiar with most of these decorations (and many other more that I shared on the go).
If not.. here’s a tiny glimpse of what this year’s Festa de Gracia had in store!
Let me know which street was your favourite!