installation with the world prop

Barcelona festival draws crowds, but locals wonder if it’s still their party

Every August, the neighborhood celebrates the Festa Major de Gràcia, or Gràcia Street Festival. The weeklong event running through Sunday, features a contest for the best-decorated street, with residents working hand in hand for months to produce the most impressive ornaments, often employing recycled materials.

The World

The neighborhood of Gràcia takes pride in being like a little village within Barcelona, Spain, with its narrow streets, lively plazas and a strong sense of community. Every August, the neighborhood celebrates the Festa Major de Gràcia, which features a contest for the best-decorated street.


 

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

The neighborhood of Gràcia takes pride in being like a little village within Barcelona, Spain, with its narrow streets, lively plazas and a strong sense of community.

Every August, the neighborhood celebrates the Festa Major de Gràcia, or Gràcia Street Festival. The weeklong event running through Sunday, features a contest for the best-decorated street, with residents working hand in hand for months to produce the most impressive ornaments, often employing recycled materials.

In 2020, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, and in 2021, it was held amid restrictions — this year, the festival is finally back in full swing.

glowing nighttime display

The Festa Major de Gràcia or Gràcia Street Festival in Barcelona, Spain, has become so popular that some residents wonder if it's still their party.

Credit:

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

Festa Major de Gràcia has become so popular, with more than 2 million visitors, that some locals are left wondering if it’s still their party.

In a veiled criticism of the festival, residents of Carrer Progrés, one of the 23 streets competing in this year’s contest, chose to decorate the street with a ferris wheel, a roller coaster and other attractions.

“It’s a theme park,” Dani Vazquez, a resident of Progrés said. “This is what this festival and our neighborhood as a whole are becoming.”

crowd with some people snapping photos

The annual Festa Major de Gràcia, or Gràcia Street Festival, in Barcelona, Spain, is a picture-worthy event. 

Credit:

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

Because of the gentrification, he said that many people his age can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood once they have children, and have to move to other parts of the city, or leave Barcelona.

As Vázquez sat on the middle of the street, chatting with some neighbors, visitors would pass by, taking pictures of the decorations.

ferris wheel and other amusement park attractions on the street

In a veiled criticism of the popularity and crowdedness of the Gràcia Street Festival, in Barcelona, Spain, or its theme park quality, residents of Carrer Progrés street chose to decorate the area with a ferris wheel, a roller coaster and other attractions.


 

Credit:

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

With residents on each street striving to have the best decorations, they face an uneasy dilemma, since winning the contest will all but surely mean more visitors flocking in.

This year, the winner was Carrer de Verdi, with decorations honoring “Don Quijote de la Mancha (Don Quixote),” the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. 

Other streets put up decorations inspired by a Viking village, Mexico’s Day of the Dead, or the TV series “Money Heist,” among others.

a storybook in the street

The streets for the Festa Major de Gràcia or Gràcia Street Festival in Barcelona, Spain, are colorfully decorated with themes. 

Credit:

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

Jenny Fang, from China, was visiting Barcelona for the first time this week when she came across the festival — and also the queues of people waiting to enter the streets.

“Most of the streets are very crowded, so I avoided them unless I can just go through them without any queue,” she said.

Some locals visit Gràcia in the morning or early in the afternoon, when they know the neighborhood will be less crowded. 

colorful installation over a street

As part of the Festa Major de Gràcia or Gràcia Street Festival in Barcelona, Spain, residents decorate their streets with colorful, themed installations.

Credit:

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

Anouk the Wit, a Barcelona local originally from the Netherlands, came to the Gràcia festival with her son on Tuesday.

Before being a mother, she would often come to the festival with her friends, she said, but it would get too crowded.

“I’m a foreigner, but I’ve been living here for more than 30 years, I’ve seen the [tourism] boom, and I don’t like it,” she said.

people eating at a table

In 2020, the Festa Major de Gràcia or Gràcia Street Festival in Barcelona, Spain, was canceled due to the pandemic, and in 2021, it was held amid restrictions — this year, the festival is finally back in full swing


 

Credit:

Alan Ruiz Terol/The World 

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