La Mercè is the largest city festival of the year, known as the “festival of festivals”, in Barcelona happening on September 21 to the 24. Mercè is known as “Les Festes de la Mercè” in Catalan and “Fiestas de la Mercè” in Spanish. This year, Lisbon will be the guest city joining us for this major street party!
This amazing festival all started in 1868 when La Mare de Deu de la Mercè (the Virgin of Mercy) was declared as the Patron Saint of Barcelona. The people celebrated the festival during September, but La Mercè was only established as a set holiday in 1902. It became a way to kiss the summertime goodbye and welcome the fall. Today, La Mercè is one of the greatest street festivals of the year, known for its dancing, music, light shows, fireworks, and more!
Calling La Mercè an exciting holiday is a bold understatement. This event is so extravagant and filled with countless events you won’t want to miss. A festival this big might make it hard to decide what events you’re most interested in attending, especially if this is your first time experiencing it. We’ll give you some information on the main events at the festival so you can start planning your epic celebration.
Catalan Dancing, or Sardana Cultural Dancing, is one of the festival’s opening events. This traditional dance takes place in front of the Barcelona Cathedral in Avenida de Catedral. The Sardana is truly important to Catalans because it symbolizes unity and pride. For this dance, people usually join hands in a circle and follow the steps of a leader.
The Inaugural Parade takes you through the interior of the Virreina, La Rambla, Ferran, and Plaça Sant Miquel. Music plays while all types of giant characters and dragons wander the streets.
The Projection Show takes place in Plaça St Jaume every night. Different themed images and music are displayed onto the town council, along with images displayed on the sides of buildings throughout the square. Projection shows take place every fifteen minutes and are free for anyone to see!
Correfoc, aka “Fire Runs”
Correfoc, meaning Fire Runs, has become one of the main highlights of La Mercè. There are people dressed up as devils that make appearances at a couple of different festivals in Barcelona, like this one. These Fire Runs consist of devils with handheld fireworks and bangers, fire-breathing dragons, and wild beasts that parade through the streets. There is a less extreme Fire Run named children Correfoc, and an adult Correfoc that’s considered the main event. If you do plan on attending the main event with all of the extremities, beware getting sprayed with flames by the dragons or chased by the devils. Make sure you wear protective clothing such as longsleeve shirts, hats and sunglasses.
Castellers, aka “Human Towers”
Castellers, known in Catalan as castles, is the creation of human towers that can reach 10 meters or more! Just like the Projection Show, you can find this event in Plaça Sant Jaume. Using planning and teamwork, humans use their bodies to build multiple levels and form an actual human tower. The crowd erupts when a child climbs to the top of the tower and salutes the people. The Guest Castellers event consists of some of the best groups around performing in the square, while a different day hosts the Local Castellers event featuring neighborhood groups.
Located on Avinguda de Maria Cristina, the Fireworks Finale symbolizes the end of La Mercè. Thousands of people come together to witness this jaw-dropping firework show. Between the loud music and the fireworks sounding, this final event is the definition of “going out with a bang.”
There’s no denying how incredibly spectacular La Mercè is. While we only highlighted some of the well-known events, there will be loads of activities happening throughout the long weekend. Remember that the metro trains will be running all night during the duration of the festival, so avoid using your car and getting caught in traffic. From all of us at OneCoWork, we hope you have an unforgettable weekend and stay safe!
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Bridget Sleap is the newest member of the OneCoWork team. Originally from New York, she majors in Communications & PR and is launching her career into media and journalism.