The festival that all residents of Barcelona look forward is shortly to arrive in Barcelona. La Merce is a street party like no other and the largest one that takes place in the city. It will be held this year from Thursday 22nd September until Sunday 25th September. It began in 1902 as a way to bid farewell to the summer and welcome in the cooler autumn months. It is held in honour of the Mare de Deu de la Merce who is the Patron Saint of Barcelona.
During the festival hundreds of activities and events take place. The streets say goodbye to cars and hello to people, parades and fire runs (Correfoc in Catalan). There are a few activities in particular that this festival has come to be known for:
Correfoc – Fire Run
Location: Porta Cambo, Avenida Francesc Cambo, Plaza de Antoni Maura, Via Laietana, Plaza de Antoni Lopez and Consolat de Mar
There are junior and adult versions of this event. Fireworks and sparklers are sprayed into the crowd and bangers are let off in the streets. There are fire breathing dragons and plenty of handheld fireworks let off. Protective clothing is advisable.
Castellers – Human Towers
Location: Placa de Sant Jaume
This is something not to be missed so arriving early is imperative. Teams of Castellers stand on each other’s shoulders to create an impressive human tower. A child then clambers to the top and stands up. It’s a magnificent sight to see and highly recommended. Currently the best teams regularly reach 8 or more levels.
Gigantes (Giants Parade)
Location: Plaza de la Mercé, Barcelona Cathedral and Plaza de Sant Jaume
This procession is one of the most popular events at the festival. Huge effigies of kings, queens and nobles are marched through the city accompanied by percussion groups and drummers. The giants tower above the crowd and spin around for all to see.
There are a huge number of other activities and events that take place in Barcelona during this festival. More information and a programme of events can be found at the official website.