Gràcia prepares 400 acts to mark the bicentenary of its local festival

This year’s local festival in the neighbourhood of Gràcia will be something special. Celebrations will not be getting under way in mid-August, as is usual, but instead start on Tuesday 2 May with the inauguration of the first of three exhibitions at the marquee in the Jardins de Salvador Espriu. The bicentenary will last a whole year, until May next year, and offer a wide array of cultural, public and social acts to promote the past, present and future of Gràcia.

Gràcia will be blowing out 200 candles this year, with as many as 400 social and cultural activities planned throughout the year to mark the occasion. The bicentenary of the Festa Major de Gràcia officially starts on the afternoon of Tuesday, 2 May, with the institutional presentation at the Palau Robert and the opening of an exhibition at the marquee in the Jardins de Salvador Espriu, which has been constructed in the 19th century style to regain the type of facility which used to play an important role in the urban landscapes of cities.

The Fundació Festa Major de Gràcia offered a press conference on Wednesday, detailing the bicentenary acts. The first act in Gràcia’s local festival was documented two centuries ago, and corresponds to the first review found in 1817 in the book Muralles enllà, belonging to the series ‘Visions Barcelonines, 1760-1860’ by the historian Francesc Curet.

Three exhibitions are being organised as a central element for celebrations and will be held over different periods between May and August: ‘Envelats, arquitectura singular i símbol de la Festa Major’ [Marquees, singular architecture and symbol of local festivals], ‘Guarnir el món de festa. Espai urbà versus espai humà’ [Decorating the world for festivities. Urban space versus human space] and ‘L’art de guarnir els carrers’ [The art of street decoration]. All three exhibitions will be on at L’Envelat, which aims to act as a site to promote the history of the neighbourhood.

August’s festa major, which attracts the most visitors, will continue to be one of the main events in the programme. The decorations in C/ Gran de Gràcia will be regained this year, with the street once again becoming the entrance to the festival. Members of the public will be helping to decorate the street, with schools and colleges also involved, while in mid-May the winner of this year’s festival poster competition will be announced.

To keep the flame alive for celebrations throughout the year, besides the main acts, a series of conferences are being organised on the role of cultural and public associations and floral decorations. An unusual documentary on the Festa Major de Gràcia in 1935 will also be presented, the last one before the Spanish Civil War broke out.