This year’s Festa Major de Gràcia featured a new entry into the decorated streets: la Plaza del Poble Rumaní, the theme of which was one of the biggest cultural contributions from Gràcia’s vibrant gypsy community: la Rumba Catalana. While the decorations themselves had a difficult time competing with the more experienced streets, one feature which stood out from the rest was a huge mural which was painted on the wall of a neighboring school.
The mural is a collaboration between local schools, the local gypsy community, and the organization acidH (Catalan Association for Integration and Human Development). The three artists who participated are well-known in the Barcelona street art scene and this blog: Xupet Negre, Caesar Baetulo (sm172), and konair.
The images on the mural are a mix of the artists’ trademark characters and icons of Catalan culture.
The phrase “operación retorno” refers to the slow, but steady reverse exodus back to the cities (and reality) after the August holidays. I’m fortunate to start off with a fairly abbreviated schedule in order to ease myself back into the routine. To close off the month of August, and the lazy, hazy summer of 2016, I present to you the second installment of the photo highlights from the Festa Major of Gràcia.
Just yesterday, the annual Festa Major of Gràcia came to a fiery end with the Correfocs (fire runners) spreading sparks through the narrow streets of the neighborhood. The sea (including lots and lots of my favorite animal, the jellyfish) was a recurring theme in the decorated streets this year. Indeed, this year’s first prize winner was a brilliant under-the-sea motif featuring a giant fisherman, whose feet became the victims of vandals later in the week. In case you’re curious, here is a list of this year’s winners (in Catalan). Worth noting is that habitual winner Verdi has fallen to 7th position, with a California/Holywood-themed decor. Other themes included theatre, birthday party, a fantasy plant world, a commemoration of 20 years of participation, and women’s history.
Without further ado, here is the first installment of shots from this year’s grand festival.
Every August, my neighbourhood of Gràcia celebrates its annual summer festival in which many streets are decorated by the residents, concerts are held and you can find vendors selling everything to homemade soaps and crafts to cheeses and traditional food products. The population of the “barri” goes up by about tenfold and the streets are abuzz from about 10 in the morning until the local police start moving people out of the area around three in the morning.
The pictures you’ll find here are mostly daylight (as the evenings have become nearly impossible to navigate due to the crowds and seas of selfie-sticks being carelessly waved about. There are a few night shots, but only when I was fortunate enough to find a hole in the crowds.
The winner of this year’s contest was no big surprise, Verdi street, which almost always takes the grand “premi”. Verdi’s theme this year was Japan, and it seems the spring cherry blossom festival. Other street themes included Avatar (I think I’m one of three people on earth who’s not part of an uncontacted tribe who hasn’t seen the Cameron blockbuster), the four seasons (“estacions” in Catalan), one street and a plaza devoted to art and artists, a circus theme, sweets and cakes, cornfields, two radioactive waste sites, a virtual zoo (which by the time I arrived had taken quite a beating from both the rain and drunken decoration thieves), and just one protest-oriented street which is quite near my house. The protest street was inspired by the iaioflautas, a protest group who, despite their age,are one of the most active when there are street demonstrations anywhere in Spain. Another spectacular street was dedicated to the Moulin Rouge, complete with a large-scale model of the Eiffel Tower, which was cordoned off later in the week as its base began to give way.
This event is one of my favourites of the year, though it seems to be rapidly outgrowing the neighbourhood, as the number of tourists visiting Barcelona continues to grow exponentially.
You’ll note that the gallery this year is huge, so I’ve placed it after the text. It’s actually a pared-down version of what’s on my memory card. I just didn’t want to leave anyone out.
I found this piece a few days back, but decided to sit on it until the end of the Festa Major. This sad clown was stenciled over layers of posters by Norgwegian artist Stein. I walked by this morning as the municipal cleaning crew was pressure-washing the streets and saw that part of his face had already disappeared. Someone had placed a poster over him and when the poster was removed, it took the lower part of his frown.
I doubt it was intentional, but the expression fit very well the mood of the neighborhood this morning, as residents were crossing the damp streets carrying the remains of all the week’s decorations. Most bars and small restaurants that had been operating non-stop for the last week were shuttered, their employees enjoying some well-deserved R&R. Indeed, I ran into my friend who works at the local bodega (wine and liquor shop) and said “Se acabo la fiesta! (The party’s over!) to which he replied, “Ya era hora!”(It’s about time!).
Here is the final installment of my photos of the street decorations from this year’s Festa Major. In this set you’ll see Angry Birds, Venetian Carnival and a Jungle Safari. Oh, and of course the ever-present theme of political corruption. Today is the last day of the festival and your last chance to see this year’s decorations! I’d write more, but I can hear the correfocs approaching.
Here is the second installment of this year’s Festa Major de Gràcia. The photos here come from three different streets, Joan Blanques, Ciudad Real, Perla and Verdi. The themes run the gamut from the evolution of communication, science fiction and space fantasy, the popular cartoon character Malfalda, and finally an under-the-sea motif.
My week in Amsterdam finished up yesterday, and I arrived back to my neighborhood, Gràcia, just after midnight. The taxi couldn’t enter by the normal route, due to the crowds, drawn by the annual Festa Major de Gràcia, which is easily Barcelona’s most famous neighborhood festival. Longtime readers may remember my photos from last year’s festival.
I generallt don’t venture out onto the streets by night, choosing instead to take advantage of the mornings, when the droves are nursing their hangovers and I can get a few unobstructed shots. Although the morning light isn’t the best for capturing the color and beauty of the decorations, I was able to get a few interesting angles. The Festa goes on through the 21st, so be sure to check them out!