Move over Gràcia, here comes Sants. Our top picks to help you enjoy the neighbourhood festivities
By María José Gómez
Just two days after the end of Gràcia's festival, the Sants Festa Major kicks off. It's another neighbourhood festival, but all are welcome, and you might be able to move a bit more freely through the street than you did during the jam-packed stickiness of Gràcia's. Until August 30, several streets in the barrio are decorated, and there are activities organized activities for residents and visitors. Whats's more, the Espanya Industrial park serves as the setting for te Alternative Festival.
Head over to the Espanya Industrial park fo 7.30pm on Friday the 23rd to catch the dance of the giants, and the Triangle de Sants band, which come right before the opening speeches at 8pm. In case you can't make it to the hundreds of activities and events on the programme for the week-long festival, we've picked some highlights to help you narrow it down.
Most of the streets acknowledge the start of the festival early and with a lot of noise. In C/Alcolea de Dalt, for example, there are fireworks and parades as early as 8am brought to you by the Triangle de Sants band, which will also pass through Plaça de la Farga around 9.45am. From 11-11.30am, take the kids down to the Espanya Industrial park, where they can splash around playing water games.
If you like barbecued sardines, you're in luck because on this first day of the festival, two streets are organizing sardine cookouts: at noon in C/Alcolea de Baix and at 2pm in C/Guadiana. And if you're an ace with dominoes, get involved in the championships organised by the neighbours of C/Robrenyo. Registration is at 2.30pm and games begin at 5pm. If you don't play, it's always impressive to watch.
Later there's more fun for the kids in C/Valladolid, where they're hosting children's activities and bouncy castles from 6pm and a chocolate feast at 7pm. You'll be glad it's not the other way round. At night you can join the botifarra sausage nosh-up on C/Sagunt (free for members, €6 for the rest of us). Once you've got a full belly, keep the night going with concerts from Oliva Trencada and 9son. If you're more into the hits of the '70s, '80s and '90s, head to C/ Finlàndia for 11pm, when friends of La Tapedera, who are also the organisers of the F.E.A. festival, will spin their favourite tunes.
There's even more going on during the second day of the festival. On the streets of Masnou-Premià there's a big Harley Davidson show on from 11am to 6pm, accompanied by live music from country band Maverick. There's also a huge barbecue of ribs and botifarra sausage to fill you up.
If handmade items and crafts are more your thing, head to C/Galileu where there's a crafts fair on all day, as well as live music on. Another midday alternative is the musicalvermouth option, with vermouth tasting and live jazz in C/Santa Cecília (noon).
At 6pm the La Sala company will give a circus workshop with snacks for the kids at the end, and at 10pm look for the video projection mapping on the façade of Casa Mig in Espanya Industrial park.
If you've got kids, nieces or nephews, or friends with kids who are tired of watching you and your mates hog the microphone for hours during karaoke night at home, bring them down to the children's karaoke contest that C/Canalejas is organising from 11am to 5pm. If you're up for some fun yourself, sign up for the family gymkhana obstacle race that starts at 11.30am in C/Finlàndia.
At 1pm there's a foam fight in Plaça de la Farga, and at the same time in C/Robrenyo they're putting on a cooking and baking contest of omelettes, tripes and cakes. Oh my!
Later on in the day, at 6pm the ping-pong championships start off, and foes will face off during the whole week in C/Guadiana. A bit earlier, however, there's a family dance and a costume contest in C/Finlàndia organised by La Tapadera. Later the headliner is the La Troba Kung-fú concert in the Espanya Industrial park at 10pm.
All morning in Plaça de la Farga there will be a load of activities for the little ones: a T-shirt painting workshop (bring a white one), a mud contest and a mask workshop.
And today, like every day during the festivities, C/Finlàndia is the place to be to sip some vermouth around 1pm, and then eat a traditional botifarra sausage with white bean lunch at 3pm in C/Galileu.
If you're over 16 and have a gift on the pitch, join in the football tournament that starts at 5pm in Plaça de la Farga. You'll have to sign up beforehand at Tenor Massini, 58, bajos, in the first days of the festival. As part of the Alternative Festival, at 7pm in the Espanya Industrial park there's a parade with marching band La Banda Patilla, and at night (11pm) don't miss the 30th anniversary celebration of C/Alcolea de Dalt, one of the events highlightd by the Festa Major organisers, so it promises to be a big party.
Starting things off fast on the fourth day of the festival is the running race that starts in Plaça de la Farga at 10am. To get your strength back from running, or just from watching the race, head over to C/Alcolea de Baix, where they'll start serving up paella around 2pm, after having spent the whole morning preparing it.
In the afternoon, it's time to be a joiner rather than a lurker, and you have a couple of options. Try your hand at circus tricks in C/Finlàndia at 6pm or at the bicycle workshop in C/Vallespir de Baix at 6.30pm. If you can't decide between the two, maybe this will help: in C/Vallespir de Baix, an hour later, there's gonna be a big rumba party in the street.
If you're a football fan and somehow you missed the Super Cup between Barça and Atlético de Madrid, or if you just want to relive it with a bunch of like-minded fans, get to C/Galileu, where they'll host a dinner and replay of the match from 10pm.
Stop by the Espanya Industria park for the tribute to the much-missed Oriol Caballero, member of the Catalan rock group Els Surfing Sirles who suffered a fatal embolism in July, leaving us far too soon. The tribute concert (from 10pm) will feature performances by Catalan bands Espectre, Lo Petit Comitè, El Conjunt Badaboc and Rauxa.
Grab your swimsuit and cap when you head out today because in Plaça de la Farga you're invited to splash around all morning in their pool. Later, around 6.30pm, you can take the little ones to C/Sagunt where they can learn how kids played back in a pre-digital world. They can participate in various traditional games, such as sack races, 'romper la olla' (the original piñata!), fishing for sweets, and other Catalan games that might be similar to those you remember from your youth. See if you can get your kids as excited about them as you'll be.
Later have a snack al fresco in C/Robrenyo at the sausage barbecue. And if you feel like staying outside for a while, and see a film at the same time, head to C/Valladolid. The double session includes a movie for kids at 9pm and one for the grown-ups at 11pm.
The 11pm flick has some pretty tough competition in C/Finlàndia: the F.E.A. festival organised by La Tapadera, which is the geekiest, craziest and funnest fiesta during the festival. End the day with a concert by El Niño de la Hipoteca in C/Vallespir de Baix at half past midnight.
All day long in C/Vallespir de Baix they're putting on board game tournaments, and in C/Canalejas the kids can jump around for free in bouncy castles starting from 11.30am. But if you're in more of a party mood and you're not afraid to get dirty, head to C/Sagunt, where you're invited to get wet, cover yourself in flour and bathe in confetti.
Fancy a fideuá? In C/Galileu, you can buy a ticket for a plate of this Catalan noodle dish at 3pm. Later, in the Espanya Industrial park there's a children's concert with Ai'las (6pm), and starting at 7.30pm there's a correfoc for kids, which will go from Plaça Can Mantega to Joan Güell, Miracle, Galileu and Plaça de Sants. A couple hours later, at 9.30pm, the correfoc for adults gets underway. This time the route is from Plaça Osca, to Premià, Autonomia, Muntades, Watt, Masnou, Miquel Bleach and finishing in Plaça de Joan Pelegrí. While things are a bit safer for the kids, adults should remember to wear clothes that aren't your Sunday best, and some locals even tie damp cloths around their neck or head to avoid flying sparks.
The Festa Major de Sants officially ends today, so a lot of the streets will pack up and sign off with a bang. If you can make it to 2.30am, you'll be able to hear the bangers going off in C/Finlàndia.
Although the festival has officially come to an end, there's still a lot to do for a couple more days. For example, today the organisers of the Alternative Festival are sponsoring a historical tour of the workers' co-ops in Sants. It starts off in the Espanya Industrial park at noon. In the same place at the same time there's a paella contest, and around 5pm there will be traditional games, a concert for kids with the La Gralla company and a chocolate feast.
At 9pm, if you're up for a dance, check out the concert featuring BB Bino, The Capaces and Disidencia.
And now the finish line's in sight. And what better way to round off the marathon celebrations than with a bit of sport. At 9am the Cursa popular de Festa Majorrunning race starts in C/Sants and Creu Coberta (between Olzinelles and Moianès streets). If you want to get your runners on and have a go, sign up before the 30th of Augst in the Unió Esportiva de Sants or on their website.
If cycling's more your thing, check out the Cursa Ciclista bike race along the same route from 10.30am to 1.30pm. This one's only for the pros, but spectators are encouraged! If you're in the mood to combine imagination with competitive spirit (and especially if you come equipped to have fun), join in the home-made vehicle race they're holding in the Espanya Industrial park starting at 5.30pm. Anyone can join, as long as you show up with a vehicle you made (or at least modified) yourself.