Every summer, each neighbourhood in Barcelona hosts its own “festa major” – a weekend or even a week of concerts, outdoor meals, parades, barbecues and traditional Catalan activities like correfocs and castells. It can be tricky to find detailed information, so we’ve done the legwork and found out everything you need to know (including links to the official programmes) to really get the most out of the festa major season!
Festa Major del Raval – 12th to the 15th of July
El Raval, in the heart of the city, is one of the most eclectic and multicultural of all Barcelona’s neighbourhoods, and the programme of the festa major reflects this diversity, with traditional Catalan customs like gegants next to communal cous-cous meals, as oppose to paellas! With performances by beat-boxers and Moroccan artists, sari-wrapping workshops, punk and hip hop shows, immersive theatre, pot-luck street parties, Bolivian dancers, castellers and cabaret, the programme is a melting pot of influences. Full details of this vibrant three-day festival can be found here.
Festa Major de Poble Sec – 13th to the 22th of July
Don’t be too sad when the festa major del Raval finishes – you’ll be able to party it up in a neighbouring barrio the following weekend! The Castellers de Poble Sec are one of the most renowned in Barcelona so make sure you don’t miss their Diada, where they showcase the various formations for creating human towers. There are also a lot of family-friendly activities, open-air film screenings, dance battles, baby discos, concerts and big communal meals in the plaças around the barrio – check the programme for more details.
Festa de Sant Roc – 13th to the 16th of August
There’s not much information about the oldest street party in Barcelona just yet, but it has been celebrated in El Gotico since 1589. A lot of the medieval traditions are still going strong, such as the parade of the gegants, locals dancing the sardana, correfocs – fire runs – and drinking competitions. The main hub of the festa is Plaça Nova, in front of the cathedral, so if you head there you’ll definitely get some festa major action! More details on dates and the programming will be published soon on this website.
Festa Major de Gracia – 15th to the 21st of August
Barcelona’s most famous festa major takes place in Gracia, a neighbourhood in the west of the city which was originally a separate village before the city expanded and absorbed it. Today the barrio still retains that village feel, with close knit neighbours who put on a world famous festa major. Each street has its own committee and a special theme, and the locals work on the decorations throughout the year – they start planning the designs for next year the week after the festa finishes. It’s definitely the busiest festa major, as people from all over Barcelona come to the festa, as well as tourists who visit specifically for the celebrations. For more details of events check out their website in late July, and plan to check out the decorated streets in the first few days of the festival – they can start looking a bit tatty after a few days of thousands of people walking past!
Festa Major de Sants – 18th to the 26th of August
Overlapping with the Gracia festa comes the Festa Major de Sants – self-described as the “alternative festa major”. This street party takes over the area around the Parc de l’Espanya, and while the decorations aren’t as impressive as in the Gracia streets, the residents of this mostly working class neighbourhood still put on a great showing. There are lots of local DJs and bands playing at various music stages around the barrio, and the castellers of Sants are another famous colla in the city so don’t miss their diada. The entire programme of events usually goes online in the first week of August, so check out this link then for dates and times.
Festa Major del Poblenou – 7th to the 16th of September
Barcelona’s ‘new town’ came into being with the Industrial Revolution, and this industrial past can still be seen in the former factories and warehouses that dot the area. It benefited hugely from the 1992 regeneration and is now one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Barcelona. The festa major here is known for the quality of its music programming – expect great bands, experimental DJs and locals who are most definitely up for the party. Most of the action is centred around the Parc del Poblenou and the Rambla del Poblenou, with the programme published closer to the time.
La Merce – 21st to the 24th of September
La Merce is the big one – the festa major of Barcelona. Expect all the traditional components of a festa major but on a much bigger scale! There are circus, dance and theatre performances in Parc de Ciutadella, light installations all over the city, a wonderful wine fair in Arc de Triomf, spectacular firework displays down at Barceloneta and at Placa Espana, traditional parades in El Gotico, correfocs and sardanas almost every day, and castellers from every barrio in the city take part in competitions. The music and theatre component of the festival is also huge, with local and international artists performing in public spaces all over the city. A detailed programme is published on the website nearer the time with full details of all events happening around the city.
Festa Major de Barceloneta – end of September
Rounding off a summer of partying is Barceloneta, the beachfront barrio. You’ll find a lot of the traditional festa major activities, such as gegant parades and correfocs, but the area’s seafaring past is given a nod with activities like the sea shanty performances on the shore, rum tasting nights and a captain touting a cannon through the streets which fires sweets at local children. There are also huge barbecues featuring botifarra, a Catalan favourite, big communal meals and free concerts all over the barrio. Barceloneta has had a troubled relationship with tourists for the last few years so it’s not a bad idea to practise your Catalan before heading along, just to show the locals that you’re making the effort! There’s hardly anything online at the moment but the programme will be published in early September, so keep an eye on the website.