One of the things we love most about Barcelona is its emphasis on keeping traditions alive. The _Festes Majors_ are popular neighborhood parties that take place across Barcelona throughout the year.

Fiestas de Gracia in 1950.
Setting up the Fiestas de Gracia in 1950, photo via Josep Barrillon Paradell

What are Festes Majors?

In the past, many of Barcelona’s neighborhoods were actually independent towns and villages, connected to the Barcelona but not a part of the city (i.e. Paseo de Gracia). As the city grew over the 19th and 20th centuries, these towns were absorbed by Barcelona. Due to this, many of Barcelona’s neighborhoods have their own special festivities and traditions. The Festes Majors are informal street parties that are meticulously planned throughout the year by residents in the neighborhood associations. They are in charge of decorating the main streets and setting up events with local artists and businesses. It’s an opportunity to spend time with the community of neighbors, which contributes to creating the festive and informal atmosphere that characterizes these events.

Fiestas de Gracia 2021.
Fiestas de Gracia 2021, photo via @comomolabarcelona

Festa Major de Gracia

The most well-known and extensive neighborhood festival takes place in Gracia during the month of August. Gracia was once an independent town and is characterized by its community feel and artistic “pueblo” vibe. The main event is the street decoration competition, with more than 25 associations planing the whole year in advance to create their winning street decor. Gracia’s narrow streets have been transformed into various themes, from underwater worlds to scenes from pop-culture. As well as this, there are stages and bars set up on the decorated streets to enjoy live music, dancing, drinks and street food throughout the week the festival takes place.

Castellers during La Mercè, photo via @hispanizo

La Mercè: the biggest Festa Major in Cataluña

The Mercè festival has been celebrated every year since 1902 and takes place around September 24 each year. This festival pays tribute to the Virgen de la Mercè, the patron saint of Barcelona. This celebration also represents the passage from one season of the year to another, this time in September, the city welcomes autumn. Streets are filled with people dancing the traditional sardana, human towers (castellers in Catalan) and many other surprises. This festival takes place throughout the city and hosts big concerts of popular musicians and bands, all for free!

Gegants in front of the Molino theatre.
Gegants in front of the Molino theatre, photo via El Periodico

Festa Major de Poble Sec

Poble Sec is an urban strip between Montjuïc mountain and Avinguda del Paral·lel. Today, it is a trendy district for international young people and creative types. This neighborhood puts on a lively neighborhood party in the second part of July where crowds congregate. The activities are divided among several emblematic spaces, including Plaça del Sortidor, Plaça de les Tres Xemeneies and the Molino theatre. This festival is great for kids too, with music and events aimed at younger members of the family.

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