La Mercè

La Merce celebrations in Barcelona

La Mercè – is the most important holiday for the Catalonian capital and the biggest outdoor festival that is dedicated to Virgin Mary of Mercy (Virgen de la Mercè), the Saint Protector of Barcelona.

The official date of this holiday is September 24th; however, celebrations normally continue during the entire week. If you are visiting Barcelona within this time period, then you are really lucky as the festival is your perfect chance to find out more about Catalonian culture and traditions.

La Merce is celebrated for over 100 years and recently gathers around 2 millions of locals over the week of its celebrations in different open-air locations.

All of the activities are absolutely free to citizens and visitors so some of the locations could be quite crowded during the top hours, but since most of them are repeated you could always find the gap and enjoy it.

Celebrations of La Merce in September

This festival of festivals is one of the best places to see different and oldest traditions of Catalunya in one place at one time, but it also welcomes national and international innovations.

It’s a unique fusion of tradition and progress, visitors and locals, and probably best time to be in Barcelona if you’re not only coming to get bronzed on the beach (but hey, the sun is warm and the beach time is still great in September!).

Let’s have a look at the milestones of La Merce.

Castellers

castellers in barcelona

Among the other must-see amusements, we would definitely recommend our famous competition – “Castells”, i.e. people towers. Main events of the competition take place at the Plaça de Sant Jaume, close to Jaume I metro station, in the heart of the Gothic quarter.

It’s easy to reach from any point of the city and worth visiting anyway. Contestants, wearing traditional costumes, create a tower by climbing on each other’s shoulders with the youngest and smallest contestant – on the very top of it.

They usually wear white pants and team coloured shirts, blacks skirts tightening their low back and traditional handkerchief of the team.

Castellers during La Merce

The objective of the competition is, of course, to build the highest tower.

Gegants

Giants show on La Merce

Additional festive entertainment (and a very popular one!) is our Giants parade. Huge figures, representing kings, queens and silk-stocking court nobility, walk along the streets of the Old City, through the Plaça de la Mercè, the Cathedral, and the Plaça de Sant Jaume.

They rise above the crowd in salutations, turning right and left to ensure people can see their dresses and faces. Drummers follow behind and set the pace for the parade.

It is a beautiful tradition and it is especially adored by kids who’d have their imagination flying above the skies.

Correfoc

Correfoc during La Merce

There are some relatively new traditions nowadays to fulfill the festive scheme, and we would like to mention the Catalonian wine exhibition and, of course, Correfoc – the fireworks marathon that takes place in the very centre of Barcelona – Via Laietana Street.

Traffic is stopped during the marathon, and “Devils” become the main characters of the action thrashing about between fireworks and petards, together with dragons spitting fireballs right into the crowd.

traditional correfoc show

People are trying to create as much noise and fire as possible to get rid of daemons in this way. It’s a big fun, but it’s also very important to remember about your own safety. Wear glasses, protective masks, gloves, and cotton hoodies/pants with no synthetic materials.

Video Mappings

Laser show Plaza Jaume

The innovation part of the festival, video mappings or visual projections. They usually take place on Plaça de Sant Jaume in the evening hours when it gets dark and has several sessions on all days of the festival so that more people could enjoy it.

Sagrada Familia Mapping show

Year to year mapping is different as could be different the locations. One of them was actually projected on Sagrada Familia and that was great! What was it, one of the first mappings, the year 2012? We loved it and would like to possibly see more mappings on Sagrada Familia!

Fireshow and music on Plaza España

Farewell to La Merce fire show

“Piromusical” or Fireshow accompanied with music on the last day of the festival is a grand farewell to parties, celebrations, and summer itself.

It is traditionally located on Plaza España, where you could also enjoy Magic Fountains of Montjuic. But this fire show is completely new experience, where fire, water, and music blend together in a mystical dance.

Fire show La Merce

It’s best enjoyed from the Plaza España itself, but if you come just before it starts you will find no place to even stand, so we recommend to come half an hour earlier to get a comfy place, and do not use public transport since its going to be collapsed before and after the event.

If you were not lucky and came just before the party started, don’t worry, Piromusical is seen almost from anywhere, just follow the route uphill to Montjuic or one of the smaller streets and find the comfy spot for you and your friends.

La Merce closing

Get comfortable and get seated, because this fire show will last for an hour! Truthfully, one of the best farewells I’ve ever seen.

Accommodation during La Merce

Looking for an accommodation in late September, you will probably get cheaper rates than during the summer months, you will have more options to choose from and have much better chance to find exactly what you need for your holidays in Barcelona.

Our Casa Dover Apartments are located close to Plaza España, perfect place to start exploring La Merce and enjoy its activities.

From some of the apartments, you will have views to Montjuic and to Piromusical fire show too.

If you’d either like to be closer to the centre and explore more of Correfoc, Mappings, Castellers and other daily activities, you could book one of our Ramblas Apartments. Thanks to its location, you will get to check all of the activities during La Merce and beyond.

Enjoyed this post? Share it with your friends and come together to enjoy La Mercè, the festival of festivals in the city!

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