Monday, August 25, 2014

Scenes from the Festa Major de Gracia

As I've written before, summers in Barcelona can be a bit of a bummer. But the hot and boring days are interrupted every August with the arrival of the neighborhood festivals known as the festes majors. These are enormous block parties organized and carried out by several districts in Barcelona. The festivals distinguish themselves from the average street fair by having elaborate, sometimes totally over the top decorations always within a certain theme. So one neighborhood can be decked out in Super Mario Brothers decorations and another can feature African safari or something. When I say decorations, I don't just mean paper streamers and balloons like at a child's birthday party. I'm talking about enormous structures, made of plastic, wood, often paper maché, and tons of recycled products. These are decorations that the various committees of every neighborhood spend all year working on from one festa major to another. These decorations bring people from all over the city to a specific neighborhood to marvel at the ingenuity of the creators while listening to live music, drinking some beer, and hanging out with their families and friends. Last week, we headed over to the neighborhood of Gracia, which many locals think has the best festa major, to check out this year´s decorations. The themes ranged from Willy Wonka to zombies.

Here are some more we liked: 

This was the Bollywood themed street. Looks fun, right? I loved the vibrant colors. In addition to the lanterns and the jewel toned sashes everywhere, there was a Taj Mahal-like entrance and pictures of famous Bollywood stars (I'm assuming they're famous anyway, I'm not an authority on the subject) and ....

this paper maché elephant! He was set up on the other end of the Bollywood street bidding you farewell. It was huge! The decorators really went all out here, I'd say. There's a contest for best decorated street and this one came in second place.

This Amazon themed street won first prize in the contest. It was decorated with birds, a crocodile which you can see on the right side and tons of fake foliage made of recycled plastic products like water bottles. The best part was that as you exited, water misted down at you which most kids got a huge kick out of-except for Roman who got freaked out. 

These origami cranes were from another street decorated entirely in a Japanese theme. There were paper lanterns, geisha, and samurai swords. The Professor joked that if it only had a sushi station, it would have won his vote. 

When the Professor and I walked into this street, which was called, simply, 'W', we were a bit bewildered as to what the 'W' referred to. There were odd, fantastical decorations all around. We were thinking, Dr. Who for a bit before we saw this chocolate fountain. Then we had a joint a-ha moment- Willly Wonka!

This picture cracks me up a bit. Roman obviously doesn't know how to do a carnival cutout so he was shrieking and squirming as the Professor tried to hold him up and stick his face more or less in the hole. The whole time, I'm calling to him to look at the camera and smile as a line forms behind me. Parents can be pretty crazy, I reflected later. 

So that was our weekend at the Gracia festival. Stay tuned this week for pictures from the Festa Major de Sants, my neighborhood!