Barcelona’s Festa Major de Gràcia may be the most famous of the city’s rowdy neighbourhood fiestas, but the Festa Major de Sants offers a much more authentic insight into modern-day life in the Catalan capital (every August).
Festa Major de Sants dates 2019: 24th August to 1st September.
Understand the Fiestas de Sants
Barcelona is made up of ‘barrios’, or neighbourhoods, each with their own distinct vibe and attractions. And the locals of almost all of Barcelona’s barrios get together once a year to throw a big fiesta – typically in the summer.
The most famous street party in Barcelona is the legendary Festa Major de Gràcia. But although it probably is the biggest and the best, it’s also the most crowded and the most touristy.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s been commercialised, but it has become more of a mainstream event and less of a local gathering.
I lived in Barrio de Sants for around three years and often describe it as one of the last authentic in neighbourhoods in Barcelona.
Historically, Sants was an industrial area, a small town that sat entirely outside of Barcelona. Like many other barrios in city, it only became part of the city’s urban tentacles stretched out far enough to swallow it up.
And this is why I recommend that culturally curious travellers pay it a visit – to observe what little remains of Barcelona that has yet to succumb to (over)tourism.
What to See During the Festa Major de Sants
Celebrations during daylight hours tend to be reserved for locals, with cava-fuelled barbecues and families exploring the psychedelic street decorations. Also expect workshops, puppet shows and quieter live music performances.
You may also spot the death-defying Castellers de Sants building their human castles (see them in Placeta de Ramon Torres Casanova).
The crowds swell as dusk falls and the stages erupt with the sounds of local bands and DJs.
Where to See the Best of the Festas de Sants
You can pretty much just follow the crowds to find the action, but a good starting point would be on and around streets like Carrer de Valladolid, Carrer de Finlàndia and Carrer de Vallespir (where I used to live).
And for the wild, herb-fuelled fiestas that never seem to end, à la summer in Barcelona, be sure to find your way to the main stage in the carpark next to Sants Estacio, and also follow the crowds to Parc de l’Espanya Industrial.
Once you feel overwhelmed and feel the urge to escape the chaos, which you definitely will eventually, I suggest visiting the many little bars and restaurants in my beloved Plaça d’Osca.
Make it Happen
When: Festa Major de Sants dates 2019: 24th August to 1st September.
Nearest Metro: Sants Estacio
Where to Stay in Sants
Where to Eat in Sants
Find out more about the Festas de Sants on the official website.