It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the festivals of La Mercè, the largest festival during the year in Barcelona where for 4 straight days, all across Barcelona, the city will be changed to the one giant party in honor of the co-patron saint of Barcelona, La Mercè. From Friday the 22nd, when the festivities kick off, until the blockbuster fireworks on Monday the 25th, Barcelona will have something for you to see! When I first moved to Barcelona, La Mercè was my first introduction to how Barcleona celebrated its major holidays. What an introduction is was! Here is my guide to some of the best La Mercè has to offer, from traditional Catalan activities, to concerts that last until late in the night, I have highlighted some important events to check out.
A Little History…
La Mercè is not the only patron saint in Barceona, the other Santa Eulalia, to whom the Cathedral is dedicated, always gets a bit jealous when the people celebrate the La Mercè and it is said the rains that usually come down around the 24th of September are her tears. Eulalia was the sole patron saint of the city before La Mercè was alled upon in the 16th century to help the city against a plague of locusts. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the citizens began to celebrate an actual day (pretty much an excuse for the workers to get out of the factories). Since the Olympics the festival has taken off and all over the city you can see concerts and special Catalan traditions, such as the Castellers of the Gengants (giants).
What to do:
There is so much to offer during La Mercè I have highlighted a few important traditions and main concerts to give you an idea of what to see, for a complete list visit the following website:
18:30 The Festival begins. 4 days of festivities will kick off in the Plaza Sant Jaume.
All afternoon various parades and demonstrations will be held through out the Gothic Quarter, as many of the giants and other characters will be presented, Sardanas (typical Catalan dance) will be done outside of the Cathedral.
19:00 Ring of the Bells of the Gothic Quarter.
19:45 Beginning of the Festival Parade throughout the Gothic Quarter
22:45 Light show in Plaza Sant Jaume on the façade of the Town Hall. Other days to see the show:
23rd at 20:30
24th at 20:45 and 22:00
25th at 20:30
11:00 Saradanas in front of the Cathedral
12:00 Castellers in Sant Jaume
Some of the best and most famous teams of Castellers (Human Tower Makers) will be on display
This is one of the events to see. Basically the gates of Hell are opened and thunsands of demons and creatures spill out and down the Via Laietana towards the sea, marching with firworks spewing out of the mouths, tails, horns, etc. A popular tradition for everyone to get involved and dance under the embers. It really is a treat for first-timers, and something to witness or take part in.
NOTE: It is always recommended to wear proper clothes. Long sleeves and pants, hoods or hats are always suggested to prevent the embers from touring the skin.
12:00 More Castellers in the Plaza de la Mercè
12:15 move over to the Sant Jaume square to catch the Eagle and Giant dances as well as the Castellers
22:00 Head on over to the Plaza Espanya and check out the Fireworks to close the festival
There are a massive amount of musical groups on display throughout the 4 days that La Mercè takes over Barcelona. If you want to catch some of the most famous local groups, Saturday looks like the best day:
Bogatell Beach will have Manel at 21:30 follwed by Txarango at 23:30. After those conclude, head on over to the Forum (concerts every night) to catch Efecto Pasillo at 1:35.