A local festa major has to be up there with our favourite events in the annual calendar, encapsulating everything we love about summer in Barcelona – warm nights, quirky Catalan folk customs, street parties and open air dinners. Every barrio in the city hosts its own festa major, a two or three day festival of neighbourhood celebration, with the more famous festes stretching to a whole week. They take place around the city throughout the year, but the most popular are always during the summer – details below!
Festa Major del Raval
El Raval is the most culturally diverse neighbourhood in Barcelona, with over 50% of its inhabitants from outside Spain, and as a result the festa major is one of the most eclectic and multicultural in the city. You’ll still have the traditional Catalan traditions, such as a correfoc (where people run down streets dressed as devils and swinging fireworks around their heads), a diada castellera (where local teams compete to build the tallest and most complex human tower), and a parade of gegants. But alongside these events there are also bhangra DJs playing in plaças, Moroccan rappers performing, food stalls staffed by locals selling Indian and Pakistani delicacies, and a mix of locals, Catalans from other barrios, and visitors all enjoying the party! Get the full programme here.
13th – 16th of July
Festa Major del Poble Sec
Hard on the heels of the festa major del Raval it’s the turn of the neighbourhood just across Avinguda Parallel – Poble Sec. This festa major always has a great musical programme, with local bands and DJs performing across the barrio. The Castellers de Poble Sec are one of the biggest collas or teams in the city, and their diada castellera is always hugely popular with the neighbours as they’re playing on their own turf! The programme has just been announced, so check it out here!
14th – 23rd July
Festes de Sant Roc de la Plaça Nova
The oldest street party in Barcelona, this year the Festes de Sant Roc is 428 years old! The festivities centre around Plaça Nova, the square in front of the cathedral. There isn’t a lot of detail about the festival online, with a slightly mysterious website not giving much away, but it’s a very traditional celebration of all things Catalan, so if you’re a big fan of gegants, bastons and sardenyas then this is the festa for you!
11th – 16th of August
Festa Major de Gracia
The most famous festa major in Barcelona, this festival draws tourists from far and wide. There is a network of streets which transform themselves into enormous art installations each year, competing for the festival prize of best decorated street. There are lots of concerts, DJ sets and communal meals, along with the traditional correfoc and parade. The Castellers de la Vila de Gracia are another massive colla, and their diada is always very busy. The festa major de Gracia is a real spectacle, but in the last few years has become a victim of its own success, drawing enormous crowds, so make sure you check out the decorated streets towards the start of the festival while they’re still in good shape! The festival has its own website detailing all the events closer to the time.
15th – 21st of August
Festa Major de Sants
Sants is a bit of the beaten track, so there are far fewer tourists at their festa major than others in the city – it definitely has more of a local, Catalan vibe, reflecting the neighbourhood. There are a few decorated streets, though not quite on the same scale as the festa major de Gracia. Sants also has a big colla of castellers who put on a big diada that’s worth checking out, and their correfoc is one of the biggest of the summer. Muscially the programme is always very varied. Details haven’t been published yet but keep an eye on their website for a full list of events published shortly before the festival.
19th – 27th of August
Festa Major de Poblenou
This neighbourhood’s industrial past can be seen in the warehouse conversions and workshops that still line its streets, even though today it is home to Barcelona’s tech start up community. Their festa major is one of the least traditional – don’t expect castellers or gegants at this festival. However, the festa major is known for its progressive musical offerings – expect experimental bands, electronic DJs and hordes of young locals from all over the city who congregrate in Poble Nou for a party! Check their twitter account for more info closer to the time!
8th – 17th September
This is the festa major for the whole city, and as such it’s the biggest and best festa around! There are concerts in Plaça Catalunya, theatre and dance performances in Parc de la Ciutadella, a huge correfoc down Via Laietana, firework displays at Barceloneta, a huge diada castellera in Plaça Sant Jaume I featuring collas from all over Catalunya, parades, sardenyas, and a ton of events linked to La Mercè happening all over the city! The programme is extensive and released closer to the time, so have a look at the Adjuntament website at the start of September to get the full list of events.
22nd – 29th September