If you happen to be in Gràcia neighborhood from the 15th to the 21st of August you will have the chance to admire one of the most amazing events in Barcelona. This year, walking through Gràcia streets, you’ll find yourself immersed in Japan, Paris, an Airport, a very special Museum, the world of Avatar and many other awesome, colorful and creative street decorations.
The street decorations are the main attraction of Festa Major de Gràcia (Gràcia Yearly Festival) and, walking along the neighborhood you’ll be amazed to discover that most of decorations are made of recycled materials that require perseverance, tenacity and long hours of work and a large amount of creativity. Most amazed will you be when you find out that all the decorations are made by the neighbors of Gràcia, non professionals, throughout the whole year.
All the streets which are decorated get funds from the town council to help build the decorations and other funds come from the activities every street commission carries out during the year. But definitely is not the money that makes the decorations possible, but the creativity and the long hours of work. The materials used are cheap ones: cardboard, recycled plastics and other materials that are collected throughout the year. Once the festival has come to an end, the neighbors start gathering and thinking of next year’s decoration. The themes of the decoration are kept in absolute secret and the neighbors work secretly in their commission locals and in their homes. In their free time, they work painstakingly collecting, cutting, painting,… And the day before the Festival starts, they work all night long setting up the decorations on the street. Once they are finished, they fire a firecracker signaling the end of the work so the others know they are ready. Then, it’s time to visit the other streets and find out what the neighbors, and competitors, have done. Next day, a jury will walk through the streets and give their verdict soon, so a sign can be hung at the entrance of the streets announcing to the public which streets are the winners of this year’s decorations contest.
Various prizes are given to the street decorations: the best global decoration, the best entrance, the best illumination, the best roof, the best balcony,… and there is a fierce competition between the different streets commissions to get the first prizes. Pride and honor are at stake.
Gràcia Festival Street Decorations are one of the highlights of the summer in Barcelona, an exhibition of imagination, creativity and community work that is definitely worth a visit.