The main annual festival in Barcelona takes place on September 24th. La Mercè is one of the patron saints of Barcelona. The other one is Santa Eulàlia. It has been an official city holiday since 1871.
During the week from Friday 21st to Monday 24th September there are many events like concerts, sport, activities for children, traditions, fantastic fireworks, etc. All of them focus on popular Catalan and Mediterranean culture.
The Festes de la Mercè are traditionally opened by a celebrity. This opening is called “pregó”. The speaker or the pregoner, which literally means the “town crier”, is traditionally a famous Catalan citizen or artist. In 2012, the pregoner was Lluís Torner, the director of lCFO-Institut de Ciències Fotòniques. The opening speech is always held in the town hall of Barcelona in the Gothic district.
There are a lot of cultural highlights during this special week. Some of them will be explained hereafter.
Correfoc – The Fire Run
There are generally 2 different kinds of Correfoc on the same evening and route. One for the children, which is more calm than the other one, which is for the adults. As you can see, it would be wise not to wear you favorite clothes because often powerful sparkler fireworks are sprayed into the crowds (so if you are afraid or don’t have suitable clothes it would be better to stay in the back). The Correfoc event takes place normally along and around Via Laietana in the city centre of Barcelona. The participants of these fire runs are community groups and they dress up like devils or have different types of dragon costumes.
Castellers – The Human Tower
There is another famous Catalan tradition which can be seen at the fiestas de la Merce – the Castellers , the Human Towers.
This is definitely one of the highlights of the festival. It takes place at Plaça de Sant Jaume and as there are always thousands of spectators, it’s better to come early. So what do the Castellers do? The aim is to build a human tower which a young child will climb up to the top and stand up. Read more information about the Castellers here.
The parade of the Giants
This parade will take place on the Plaça de la Mercé, which is in the Barrio Goticò, on the square in front of the cathedral and at Plaça de Sant Jaume.
These huge figures tower above the crowds and spin around and around so the crowds can see them in all their glory. Often accompanied by small percussion groups which play their own different type of beat and convoy the giants while there are passing by.
The La Mercé festival is a really big party that has something to offer for everyone. If you prefer street artists at its best, live music performance or cultural events like visiting one of the free entrance museums during the biggest and jolly festival of Barcelona. That’s what La Mercé stands for.
If you would like to visit Barcelona during this special week, check out our available accomodations at www.barcelona4seasons.com