Catalan culture is expressed through very many local festivities that take place year-round and everywhere in Catalonia. Fireworks light up the sky so often that it seems there is always something to celebrate. Back in time, the majority of festivities honoured local patron saints and with time celebrations grew bigger and this is still the excuse for villages, towns and neighborhoods to celebrate with parades, music and dances.
One of the most representative festivities are those in Gràcia, Barcelona, that were declared “Traditional Festivity of National Interest” by the Government of Catalonia.
For a whole week, many activities and a festive atmosphere fill the streets and squares of Gràcia, which are always thoroughly decorated by their neighbours for the occasion. Thousands of people from other parts of Barcelona and Catalonia join the festivities to enjoy the picturesque look and merry mood of Gràcia, a neighborhood with its own personality within the big city.
Every year the street, the square and the balcony best and most originally decorated are awarded a prize. Certainly their residents take this competition seriously. They meet and work to prepare the decorations with recycled materials for months, with the aim to turn their street in a fantasy world during the festivities. Every year a different theme is chosen to inspire the festival but it remains a secret until the celebration begins!
It is definitely a great opportunity to pay a visit to Gràcia, meet local people and enjoy Catalan traditions. Typical food and drinks, local bands, traditional dances and other types of shows, human-towers (“castellers“), blunderbuss parade (“trabucaires“), giants parade and the very popular “correfoc“.
In all traditional Catalan festivities, fire shows are essential. One of the most popular is the “correfoc”, where people disguised as demons and fantasious beasts run among the crowds throwing fire sparks. The crowd also runs and dances under the fire at the sound of drums played rhythmically by groups also disguised.
This shows that combine music, dance and fire date back to the XIVth century in Catalonia. But the “correfoc” as we celebrate nowadays exists since 1979 when several Catalan traditional groups took part in a Fair about “Fantasious Beasts” in Barcelona and it was a great success. Since then in all local festivities around Catalonia the most exciting of the shows is the fire-runs. This will be the only evening when people -no matter how hot it is out in the street- put on a hat and wear long sleeves and pants… Of course, safety first!