La Mercè is the annual festival of Barcelona and it takes place around September 24th. Our Lady of Mercy (La Mercé) is the Patron Saint of the city since 1868. The celebrations contain a mixture of the best of the city’s cosmopolitan character and its ancient and authentic traditions. We suggest you seven free and must see activities to be enjoyed in the Festival of Barcelona.
The 7 traditions of La Mercè you can not miss!
‘Toc d’inici’ (The Opening Ceremony) – Thursday, September 22 at 19:50. Plaça Sant Jaume
When the opening announcement in the City Council is done, the city’s folk dancing groups, with its figures (giants and cabezudos) and firework runs, gather and dance in the city Main Square (Plaça Sant Jaume). This is the final point of the street parade that they have performed from la Rambla`s Palau de la Virreina to the Plaça St. Jaume. Once at the square the different folk groups offer their dances to the citizens of Barcelona, to the tune of the all-city 40 musicians band, called the Ministrils del Camí Ral (Juglars of the Royal Highway). Right after the dancing, there’s one last walk around the square as fireworks announce the opening of the festival. After the ceremony it’s the turn of Colorama, a projections show on the façade of the City Hall’s building.
Xambanga de Gegants – Friday, September 23 at 21:00. Maritime Museum
This is the newest tradition of La Mercé city festival, despite many people in Barcelona think that it’s been performing for a lifetime. One night before the Dia de la Mercé (city’s Saint Patron day), the folk gangs that walk the Gegants (giants) have a crazy night out and walk the figures in the streets dressed up in funny costumes. Come and see this year ones!!!
Ball de Bastons (Stick Dance) – Saturday, September 25 at 12:00. Plaça Sant Jaume
In Catalonia the stick dance tradition is deeply rooted, but in Barcelona this traditional dance was incorporated last year with a remarkable success. This is a fine example of Catalan folklore and requires high skills from the dancers. The dance is part of the procession of the Virgin of La Mercé.
Diada Castellera – Saturday 24 and Sunday, September 25, 12:00. Plaça Sant Jaume
The Castells (Human Towers) are the most impressive sample of Catalan folklore. During La Mercé Festival there’s two performing days: Saturday the 24th for the local gangs (Sants, Vila de Gràcia, Sagrada Familia and Jove de Barcelona) and Sunday the 25th with two guest groups from other cities in Catalonia (Minyons de Terrassa and Xiquets de Valls).
Cavalcada de la Mercè – Saturday, September 24. 17:30
Citywide entertainment and cultural groups parade throughout the streets of the city centre to celebrate La Mercé with party, light and colour. This is one of the most ancient acts of the Festival. There will be plenty of giants and cabezudos as well as the participant folk groups in the International Folklore Conference. The march starts on the Gravina / Pelai streets jointure, crosses Plaça Catalunya, La Rambla, walks Carrer Ferran and ends up at Plaça Sant Jaume.
Walk of the Dragons and Fire Beasts – Saturday, September 24, 21:00. Plaça Sant Jaume.
During the days of the festival, in the different city neighbourhoods, you can admire all the Fire Beasts there exposed. On Saturday, they all wake up from their rest and march all along the Gothic Quarter in a unique spectacle of sparks and fire.
Piromusical de La Mercè (fireworks and music show) – Sunday, September 25 21:00. Av. Maria Cristina.
A must of the festival. La Mercé fireworks, music and water show is one of the largest performances of this kind held in Europe. The different elements combine together in perfection as the Grand Closing of the festival.