Nothing symbolises summertime in Barcelona like its street festivals. Locals call them “festes majors.” These authentic parties take place in different parts of the city, and most of them are free to attend. As the summer is approaching, you will hear barcelonés talking about the upcoming Barcelona street festivals. Catalan parties are kind of a neighbourhood get-together seasoned with music, arts, and crafts.
Most of festes majors occur in summer and early autumn. What a perfect time to enjoy the beach vacation with grand celebrations like Festa Major de Gracia and La Merce Barcelona Festival! Catalans are proud to share their unique culture with travellers, and most probably you won’t see them in other parts of Spain. Rooted in religious traditions, festes majors grew into something bigger, and today they embody Catalan identity. During the festivals, you will be lucky to see gegants (giants), Sardana dance, Castells (aka human towers), and correfocs (aka fire runs). Another great tradition is the outdoor family dinner, so hopefully, you get invited to one to eat local specialities. Are you ready to pick your festa major?
Best Barcelona Street Festivals to Party Like Locals
1. Festa Major del Casc Antic
Few of the oldest Barcelona neighbourhoods (Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera) celebrate their annual Festa together in late June. This old town festa features lots of community activities for all ages. Come and join huge communal meals like botifarra (a sausage barbecue) or afternoon vermouth sessions. You’ll also have a chance to see street theatre performances and traditional dances. Keep an eye for balls de bastons, the Catalan stick dance.
2. Festa Major de Poble Sec
This festa is popular among hipsters and barflies. Crowds gather around El Molino on the iconic Paral-lel and along the Carrer Blai to sip cervezas (aka beers) and mojitos while listening to locals bands and DJs. Organisers also offer events for families like communal meals (what about a plate of paella, huh?), activities for kids, and circus shows.
3. Festa Major de Gràcia
Third week of August
Gracia used to be a separate village in Barcelona outskirts, later on, absorbed by the city. Now it hosts the most popular summer party of the Catalan capital — Festes de Gracia. The celebrations still keep this nice village feel. The Festa runs for a week in mid-August, taking over the plazas of the neighbourhood. The streets are dressed in lovely decorations prepared months in advance by the locals from recycled materials. Each street boasts a unique theme, and the best-decorated street wins the contest. The Festa gathers crowds from other parts of the city to enjoy celebrations with music, human towers, pop-up bars and food stalls selling butifarrada, foam party, and parades. Organisers spread posters with the detailed programme and map, so head to the Gràcia neighbourhood for the greatest Barcelona street festivals.
4. Festa Major de Sants
It’s not an easy task to top up Festa Major de Gracia, right? Festa Major de Sants might be not as impressive as some of the other Barcelona street festivals, but it’s still a rather epic celebration. About 15 streets around the Parc de l’Espanya Industrial get ready for the party. Culture seekers should aim for “Diada Castellera,”, a special day that showcases the best castellers in Catalonia. There are even some sport events listed in the programme like a bike race and a 2km run, so you can join too.
5. La Merce
One of the biggest street festivals of Europe, named after the Barcelona’s patron saint Our Lady of Mercy, it attracts around 2 million visitors. Some say it’s kind of the festa major for the entire city, so celebrations are on a different scale! Your mind will be blown away by around 500 events from art installations, light shows in the parks and squares, street theatres to food and wine tasting events, music workshops, craft fairs, parades with giants and dragons, and much more. The festival boasts its own music programme labelled BAM that brings world-famous international performers for free in the city’s public spaces, that’s where the party people go. Prepare your nerves to watch the Castellers (human towers) and your inner child to run with the correfocs. Also, on September 24 Barcelona museums offer free entrance, so take advantage of that!