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Barcelona: Party like a local (for free) at August “festas”!

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A street in Gracia decorated for Festa de Gracia; photo by Jaume Meneses
A street in Gracia decorated for Festa de Gracia; photo by Jaume Meneses

Barcelona is well known for its lively nightlife. Here the idea of a “festa” may only be surpassed in Spain by Madrid’s infamous “marcha” (literally meaning “to go out on the town”). And if you want to party in Barcelona like the locals, it’s not uncommon to spend between €30 to €40 on a night out—especially if you plan on hitting up a club with a DJ or want to hear live music.

But before you resign to just sit in your hotel room afraid of the costs of painting the town red, consider these 100% free August “fiestas” and events. Most of them are put on by the city government. Leave it to Spain to spend tax money on parties–you gotta love it!

Festa de Gracia
Through August 22, 2009

Most locals agree that this is one of the best parties in Barcelona. It begins on the 15th of August and lasts for one whole week. Expect lots of music including jazz, rock n’ roll, folk and more on multiple stages every night. Gracia is a neighborhood in Barcelona, and the Festa de Gracia is essentially a block party that spans many, many blocks. Residents of the barri (neighborhood) organize all of the festivities and do all the decorating. Neighbors also sell home-made food and drinks in the street at super Cheapo prices.

The decorations beg mentioning in more detail. Each year, different blocks in Gracia compete against one another for the prize for best decorations. This year some blocks are decorated with floating plastic jellyfish or Japanese gardens and lanterns. Half of the fun of the festival is in checking out the outrageous and creative décor.

Of course, the Festa de Gracia is free and a drink and some street food will set you back all of €5. For more info, visit the Festa’s web site.

Outdoor Cinema: Film Fest at the CCCB
Through August 27, 2009

This is one of my favorite Barcelona freebies. During the month of August the art museum CCCB shows films in an outdoor theatre called “Gandules” (which means “lawn chairs”). The films are mostly about music this year, and the event is popular. If you decide to go, make sure to get there an hour early to get a chair. Otherwise, bring your own chair or blanket and pull up a patch of grass nearby. There is beer and wine for €2.50, offered at the venue.

Movies are shown on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 PM and go until around 11:45 PM, just in time to catch the metro after the show. The event ends August 27th.

More info: www.cccb.org

Music in Parc de la Ciutadella on Fridays
August 21 and 28, 2009

This is a great one for families or groups of friends. Grab a picnic and a blanket and pop over to Parc de la Ciutadella on Fridays at 9:30 PM. The music starts at 10 PM and runs for about an hour. Again, this event is popular, so it’s best to arrive early.

Live bands are mostly local groups who play jazz. At times the music is fantastic and at other times it is, admittedly, a bit flat. But that’s half the fun. You never know what you’re going to get, but at least it’s outside and offers a festive vibe. Those who want a closer view can sit in the gazebo, which is really just an extension of the stage. This is one of the nicest places to see music in the city on hot, humid Barcelona nights.

Upcoming acts include the Alejandro di Costanzo trio (August 21) and the Martin Leiton quartet (August 28).

For more info, visit the website.

Festa de Sants
August 22-30, 2009

This fiesta is much like that of Gracia, but it’s located in the more low-key neighborhood of Sants. Beginning on the 22nd of August, the party gets started around 7:30 PM with a family-friendly parade. Expect music, lots of food and drinking.

Sants can be reached by taking the metro and getting off either at Plaça de Centre or Sants Estacio. You’re best bet? Go around 8 or 9 PM to have dinner at the Festa (party) and then stay to wander around and hear Saturday night’s music line-up..

For more info, visit the website.

About the author: Regina W. Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

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