Every year around the middle of August, Gràcia – an atmospheric and slightly bohemian chic part of Barcelona – hosts the city’s biggest and most colourful neighbourhood party; La Festa Major de Gràcia. People of all ages gather in the characteristic narrow streets and small plazas to participate in competitions, to eat and drink, to see the fireworks and the human towers, and to dance and have a good time. The number of stages and concerts are countless, the activities and events likewise. It’s a weeklong fantastic feel-good event visited by a whopping one and a half million people each year!
The main attraction of the festa is the decoration of some 15-20 streets and plazas that, not only bear witness of hard work and creativity, but also of the amazing community spirit. Each street chooses a theme and carefully plan, design and prepare all the activities to take place there, and, come the big event, participate in dressing their part of Gràcia up in its party frock.
To me it’s all one grand design show. The fiesta is wonderful and I’m so glad the locals allow us all to participate, but I primarily dive in seeking inspiration, eager to see what the people of Gràcia have come up with. It’s almost like a crossover of interior design, scenography and theatre. The imagination is boundless, and there’s nothing they’re not capable of putting together. And the most amazing aspect; almost everything is created from recycled material!
If you’re looking for ideas for a theme party or how to create an inviting ambience in a big, empty space, if you’re twisting you brain to come up with ways to decorate your child’s bedroom or engage in creative and cost-efficient activities with your children, then look no further. Over the last two years I’ve spotted ideas for lamps and decoration, motives that would make great wallpaper or framed artwork, and been blown away by the manner in which they’ve managed to take me away to a completely different place.
This year’s Carrer Progrés had a zombie theme that made me glad I don’t live there, as I don’t think I’d dare go out at night. The plaça Rovira i Trias on the other hand took me to Japan to see the beautiful blossoming of the cherry trees. Carrer Fraternitat took me down the rabbit hole with Alice, and Carrer Verdi to the Amazon. My award for cuteness goes to Carrer Joan Blanques, where so many stuffed sea creatures had been sewn and hung up all over. I hope they find good homes for them once they take them down.
So if you haven’t already thought of a way to reuse your Nespresso capsules, or you have a garage filled with old bike tyres and crates, this might give you some ideas. And if you missed it, don’t worry, many other neighbourhoods in Barcelona also celebrate their Festa Major in a similar way between the months of June and September. And there’s always next year…