Festes Majors or simply “Big Party” is the talk of Barcelona in the summertime. Throughout the warm weeks (and a few in the wintertime) each neighborhood takes its turn hosting one of these big parties with its own theme.
They are completely free to attend and it’s typical to hear live music, eat good street food, see lots of people dancing, and enjoy some arts and crafts.
These festivals are not only common in Barcelona but are typical in cities nearby as well. There also tend to be various Catalan traditions going on during these festivals. Catalan traditions are very important to the Catalan people and culture and it’s easy to catch a glimpse of them at theses festivals.
The region’s famous traditions: such as the sardana dance, the gegants (giants), the famous castells (human towers) and the correfocs (fire runs) are commonly seen in the neighborhoods. They are a huge social factor in theses festivals and can help you get a grasp on the local traditions.
The first of the festivals is late January in the district of Sant Antoni. This neighborhood has a common tradition called Tres Tombs or “Three Turns” where residents bring out their pets to be blessed by a priest. Some of the older neighborhoods celebrate their festival together in the “Festival of the Old Town.” It’s popular for all ages and includes traditional dancing and street food.
The next is El Raval which is not as traditional or popular but attracts a much younger crowd looking for cervezas and dancing. It’s a multicultural neighborhood which shows in this festival. It is a nice sight to see when it all comes together and represents the neighborhood. Another neighborhood that that tends to be a bit more about the mojitos and cervezas is in El Poble Sec. A lot of local bands and DJs come to play in the streets and do their thing.
The biggest and most known of these festivals is the one in the Feste Major de Gracia. It features many hand-crafted decorations and each street competes to create its own theme. It’s typical for people from all over the city to appear at this festival. Another impressive runner-up for best celebration is that of Feste Major de Sants. It’s almost as impressive as Feste Major de Gracia with sixteen streets participating.
You can see some of the best castellers around featuring some of Catalonians best colles or “teams.” The biggest street festival, not just in Spain, but all of Europe is La Merce. The whole city of Barcelona participates and over 2 million people come to visit specifically for this event. There are light shows, pop up shops, historic parades, artisan tents, and street theatre.
The last major festival is that of Fieste Major de Barceloneta. There are plenty of beachtime festivities including treasure hunts, nighttime beach volleyball tournaments, and food featuring fresh caught sardines. These parties are enjoyed by every type of person. As a tourist looking to have a good time or wanting to know more about the neighborhood culture, it is a perfect place to do so.