La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2020Held every year near the end of September, La Mercè Festival is the largest street festival of Barcelona. An immense celebration in which sacred and profane mingle to create an extraordinary event.
The legend about La Mercè
The night of 24 September 1218, the Virgin appeared simultaneously to King Jaume I, Saint Pere Nolasc and Saint Ramón de Penyafort. It was the time of wars of religion, and she asked them to create an order of monks to save Christians imprisoned by the Saracens.
When in 1687 a plague of locusts hit Barcelona, people prayed the Virgin of La Mercè for her intervention. Once the plague had been overcome, the council of the city named the Virgin of La Mercè the Patron Saint of Barcelona.
The annual festivalHowever Pope Pius IX ratified the council’s decision only two centuries later, in 1868. From this year Barcelona began to celebrate its festival in September. But La Mercè actually took off in 1902, under the impulse of Francesc Cambó. From then, every year in September the celebration bids goodbye to summer and welcomes the cooler months of autumn. But through the years the festival became a popular celebration. The long list of events takes place in several public spaces. While its programme centers on Mediterranean culture. But its most traditional activities are a combination of popular culture from all over Catalonia. The Gironese Sardana, the human castles and devils from the Camp of Tarragona, just to name a few!
Correfoc and its devilsCorrefoc are probably the most scenic events of La Mercè. The name means ‘fire run’. And in fact, during the correfoc the devils (dressed up special community groups) run up the streets with firecrackers and handheld fireworks. There are two types of correfoc happening in the same evening. During the “children” version fire breathing dragons roam the streets with the devils. It is a scenic yet safe parade. During the “adult” correfoc, instead, crowds are actually sprayed with flames from the devils. Tips: wear protective cloathing and glasses. Long sleeved tops will protect you from sarks. Also, consider watching the correfoc from afar if fire is not your thing. Where: Via Laietana When: 18:30 – children; 20:30 – adults
CastellersOne of the highlights of the festival, it took place in Plaça de Sant Jaume. Castellers will build a human tower and have a child climb up to the top of it. Quite an amazing sight to see!
Tips: arrive early to have the best view. Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume When: 12:00 p.m.
Los GigantesGiant effigies of kings, queens and nobles march through the streets of Barcelona to the sound of drums. They tower above the crowd, spinning around so that everybody can see them. This parade is a family event, both children and adults will surely have fun. Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume When: 11:00 a.m.
Projection showsDuring each evening of La Mercè, free projection shows take place in Plaça de Sant Jaume. The images are projected onto the side of one of the buildings in the square. Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume When:
- 20 Sept.: 21:15 – 00:00
- 21 Sept.: 20:30 – 23:00
- 22 Sept.: 20:30 – 23:00
- 23 Sept.: 22:30 – 00:00
- 24 Sept.: 20:45 – 22:00