La Mercè festival

LA MERÇÈ 2013  ( 20 - 24 September ).

Every year close to the end of September Barcelona holds its largest street party, the Barcelona La Mercè Festival.

The celebration of Barcelona’s patron saint, La Mercè has become Barcelona’s biggest and best-attended block party, packed with free activities (more than 600) for all ages and walks of life. For 2013, the festival is scheduled from 20 to 24 September.


Catalan culture at La Mercè

Interested in experiencing some Catalan culture for free? La Mercè is the place to be. The line-up at the festival includes traditional dances, parades, correfocs, and castells.

Hold your breath as castellers form their spectacular human towers, known as castells, at Plaça Sant Jaume in front of Barcelona’s town hall. First documented in 1770, castells have been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Watch crowds of correfocs, or fire-runners, as Catalans disguised as devils run through the streets with fireworks and firecrackers in hand. This event is frantic but great fun. A bit of advice: cover up well as sparks will literally be flying all over the place. A tamer version of the event on Via Laietana is planned for children earlier in the evening; this may also be a better choice for those with a nervous disposition!

Get your camera at the ready for the Caps Grossos, otherwise known as ‘fat heads’ and Gigants that will parade through the city during the festival. These enormous figures representing kings, queens, saints and other members of the Catalan aristocracy are a big deal in Catalonia. They’ll be spinning around to the beat of small percussion groups at Plaça de La Mercè, in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral, and at Plaça Sant Jaume.

Elsewhere, enjoy the spectacle of traditional dancers performing la sardana, a Catalan circle dance or the lively stick banging of the bastoners in the ball de bastons.

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