Every year, around September 24, the city of Barcelona celebrates its festa major (annual celebrations) known as La Mercè, in honor of the co-patron saint of Barcelona, la Mare de Déu de la Mercè, meaning “Mother of God of Mercy.” La Mercè has been celebrated since 1902 and offers fun activities for the whole family over the weekend, filling the streets of Barcelona with popular Catalan traditions.
Here are five events not to be missed around this time in Barcelona:
- The eagle and the city’s giants. The most symbolic moment of the La
Mercè festivities is when the eagle and the city’s giants go into thePlaça de Sant Jaume to perform traditional dances, accompanied by the Barcelona Municipal Band. In the morning, the giants go out into the streets and each pair of giants perform a dance with their own music and choreography. Six o’clock in the afternoon marks the start of the la Mercè procession, an event which stretches back to the first decades of the twentieth century, in which the giants take the leading role in this parade through the city center.
- Castellers exhibitions. During the la Mercè festivities, groups of castellers (human towers) invited from Barcelona and around Catalonia meet in the Plaça de Sant Jaume, the most important square in Barcelona and home to the City Hall, to build human towers which can reach 10 stories high.
- Traditional dances. The sardana dance is prominently featured during Barcelona’s festa major, with both exhibitions and competitions among the city’s Sardana groups. There is also the ball de bastons, a popular Catalan dance involving sticks. Throughout the morning, all of Barcelona’s bastoner groups give an exhibition of their dance and then encourage you to follow them in a procession which leads to another point in the city. If you are interested in learning traditional Catalan dances, this is your chance!
- The correfoc. One of the most highly-anticipated acts of the la Mercè festivities is the correfoc, one of the most spectacular pyrotechnic displays in the province. This event begins with the arrival of the Mascle Cabró, who, according to legend, heard the devils leaving the Gates of Hell and was able to make them go back to where they came from. The climax of the correfoc is when the Gates of Hell are set alight and opened for the devils, dragons and fire beasts, who embark on a route around the Old Town. The correfoc of La Mercè is composed of over 40 “devil groups” from Barcelona and surrounding areas. If you want to go and see this spectacle, we suggest that you wear suitable clothing to protect you from fire.
- The pyro-musical. The grand finale of la Mercè takes place at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. The pyro-musical consists of a wonderful spectacle of music, water, lights and fireworks which you will be able to see live or on television. There is no better way to round off the festivities!
Welocalize has offices based in the heart of Barcelona and the team will be joining in with the celebrations. We wish everyone fun and happiness during La Mercè!
Based in Barcelona, Adriana Martín is a member of Welocalize Global Marketing Team