There is no better time to visit Barcelona in September when the city goes back to its ancient customs and traditions for few days. La Mercè is the festival of Barcelona, held in honour of the patron saint of the city on September 24, officially took place in 1902 for the first time. It is the time for locals to celebrate the day of Mercè, however, everybody is welcome to participate and enjoy a bit of Catalan traditions. Although the actual feast day is September 24 (also bank holiday), the festivities begin a few days beforehand – starting from 22th of September.
Barcelona is such a festival-friendly city; each neighbourhood holds a festival at least once a year, however, this time it is the festival of the whole Barcelona. You can experience the most potential festival spirit all around; each year almost every neighbourhood of Barcelona is taking part in the festival and contributes to make the celebrations more active and supportive.
La Mercè speciality
During the festivities of La Mercè many events are held and celebrations in the streets of Barcelona. The traditional face of the party is human towers – castellers – devil, hawkers, drummers… main streets and squares of the city will be enlivened by them. The aim of the Castellers is to build a human tower and have a young child climb to the top of the tower and stand up; the avenue for this activity will on Placa de Sant Jaume, starting at midday. Just to mention - since 2010 the Human Towers of Catalunya are part of the Intangible World Heritage by the UNESCO. Before the Castellers arrive, in the same square the Giants will have a show at about 11am. This significant show is the procession of Giants, a parade followed by children and adults. The fire, as always, will be an essential element of the celebrations. They also highlight the Correfoc: fire show, in which demons and dragons spit fire from his mouth, the location is on Via Laietana, starting about 6PM. Of course, the typical dance of Sardana won´t be forgotten on these special days. Another popular tradition of the festival of La Merce is the Fira de Vins, held in the neighbourhood of La Barceloneta, next to the pier of Port Vell; a great chance to taste local wine. There is also a food fair in the central parts of the city, particularly dedicated to the Catalan wines, where you can try different varieties, accompanying the tops of typical tapas and other dishes.
La Mercè of Paris
This year Paris will be a guest city of Merce Festival. Locals and visitors will see the extraordinary skills of Parisian artists in diverse fields: from music to circus and street arts. Ciutadella Park will be the main space of the guest city this year which has invited some great French artists that no one should miss where you can participate in the large cardboard constructions by the artist Olivier Grossetête and see French hip-hop artists sing and dance. At Montjuïc Castle, you will also discover several French artists performing spectacular jumps, staging aerial performances. At Fabra i Coats, you will be able to see Nuage, a suspended artificial cloud upon which some French acrobats will manoeuvre.
La Mercè Closing
La Mercè is also a festival of music, recently, using the newest technological innovation, it became a showcase - audio-visual shows, surprising projections and ... any proposal that applies to the festival with surprising results are already essential elements of the traditions in modern ages. Plenty of free concerts in the main streets and squares of the city, such as Plaça de Catalunya or Plaça Sant Jaume…
Finally, the Piromusical Festival, one of the most famous celebrations of the Festival of La Mercè, which closes the festive week. It is an impressive festival of fireworks and light, which takes place on the mountain of Montjuïc. The Piromusical also coordinates with the spectacle of the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, giving the festival a final unforgettable scene year by year. The combination of these shows comes in a huge burst of fire, light and colour, music and magic.
La Mercè today
Nowadays La Mercè has become genuinely popular festival thanks to the collaboration of the neighbourhoods across the city. Today, La Mercè is a festival which places in the centre of Catalan culture and history. Barcelona will bring together a huge program that will force you to choose: street arts, parades, concerts, traditional dances.
Be careful, the pickpockets will be all around, even though specially-powered security will be provided almost in every corner. Save the data of the festival this year and follow the program through the official website of the events this year: http://lameva.barcelona.cat/merce/en.
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