King Kong, Lenin and the Ghostbusters’ Marshmallow man meet in Barcelona
Crowds visit famous decorated streets as Gràcia Festival celebrates its 200th anniversary
It is difficult to think of a place where historical figures such as the Russian Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin can be seen next to fictional characters like King Kong, the Ghostbusters’ Marshmallow man and Falkor the Luckdragon from Michael Ende’s Neverending Story — except for Barcelona’s Gràcia Festival, of course.
The streets of Barcelona’s Gràcia neighborhood — which is said to look like a small village within the city — come to life to compete in a contest where the best decorated street will be recognized. Neighbors take the competition seriously: each year, a different theme is chosen by each street and everything is covered by colorful ornaments and characters of all shapes and sizes.
One of this year’s themes is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, chosen by Progrés street, which include hundreds of communist symbols, like the red star and the sickle and hammer, hanging down in the roofless streets. Meanwhile, Llibertat street neighbors decorated their houses with red skulls and scary skeletons. The entrance of this hellish street is a giant monster that threatens to swallow every new visitor.
"We want the decorations to be respected, and that people can combine fun with a little rest”
Eloi Badia · Gràcia's district city councilor
This year, Gràcia Festival celebrates its 200th anniversary. Twenty-two streets are competing in this year’s contest and 990 activities have been prepared by the organizers, such as concerts, cultural events and a competition of the Catalan human towers known as castells. All the activities can be found on the official website.
“Good citizenship is one of the main axes: we want the decorations to be respected, and that people can combine fun with a little rest,” said Eloi Badia, Gràcia’s district city councilor. “We ask people coming from abroad to respect these things as well.”
Gràcia Festival is one of the most crowded events of the year in Barcelona. Last year’s edition attracted more than 2.3 million people. The neighborhood has a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Yet, the City Council says it can still deal with this number of visitors and has recently taken measures such as limiting the number of people in some areas and setting one-way streets. “We’re used to it,” says Badia.