If there’s one thing that Barcelona does best, it’s partying! This city has jam-packed year-round calendar of festivals to be enjoyed, particularly during summer. The best-known neighbourhood festival is that of Gràcia, but hot on its tails just afterwards is the lively Festa Major de Sants.
Where is Sants?
One of the lesser-known areas to tourists descending on the city, Sants is a mainly residential area, inhabited by locals. You may know it as being the home of the Sants Train Station, which connects Barcelona with the rest of Spain, and Europe!
Once an independent village before joining the city in 1897, it transformed in the 19th century as a centre for workers as many textile factories were established in the area. Even today, the area has many quirks that differentiate it from the rest of Barcelona, which are also reflected in the festa major, its main festival.
Origins of the festival
The festival is held in honour of St. Bartholomew, the patron saint of Sants. The beginnings of the Festa Major de Sants date back to the mid-19th century when celebrations included Serrallonga and stick dancing. In addition, the main dance of Saint Bartholomew took place, in which costumed dancers of Roman soldiers, angels and a demon would carry a utensil and pretend to beat the audience!
At this time there were already floral wreaths, but it was in 1943 when the first street decoration contest was held in Sants, which is still one of the best parts of the festivities in present day.
Cercavila and ball de gegants
The festival commences with a cercavila procession (which is a big musical parade), on the eve of Sant Baromeu’s feast day, the 24th of August.
The festival giants of the Geganters de Sants, musicians, and drummers make a circuit around the neighbourhood until they reach the Espanya Industrial Park. Once they make it to the park, the gegants dance and the opening of the festival is marked!
Early in the morning, firecrackers are set off around the streets that make up the festival area. The idea is to wake up the local residents to let them know that the celebrations are about to begin! Meanwhile, gegents parade throughout the neighbourhood to encourage everyone to participate in the activities.
Street decorations galore!
Like the Festa Major de Gràcia, Sants also puts on a fantastic decoration of the neighbourhood streets. 16 of the neighbourhoods’ streets compete to be the best decorated street, and residents pull out all the stops to win! There are categories and prizes each year, that are awarded in the Espanya Industrial Park.
Correfoc – a fiery display
Correfocs (fire runs) run for several nights all over the neighbourhood, and in a big closing act of the festival on the last day. They are people disguised as devils who put on a display with music and armed with pitchforks, set off fireworks in the crowd. In the afternoon, the youngest ‘devils’ take to the streets for the children’s fire run, in the main streets of the old village. In the evening, the adult diables perform a big correfoc which bids farewell to the festival until the next year.
At AB Apartment Barcelona, we have a wide range of apartments available to rent in the Sants neighbourhood. Head to our website to discover what is on offer or contact our friendly team who will be more than happy to help you find your perfect apartment in Sants!
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