September in Barcelona means it’s time to party! Every year, the city gets ready for its city-wide festival, Festes La Mercè. Several days long, this festival is packed with activities and excitement! Here’s your guide to all the fun going on during the Festes La Mercè in Barcelona!
About Festes La Mercè
La Mercè takes place in late September and is a celebration of Catalan culture and Barcelona’s identity as a city. The first festival took place in 1871 when the city council decided to prepare special activities to mark the Catholic feast day of La Mercè. While the actual celebration day is September 24th, there are several days before and after that are packed with events for the public to enjoy.
For five days, the Barcelona city council has a jam-packed agenda full of fun, cultural events for residents to enjoy. Throughout the week, you can catch traditional, Catalan activities that are an important part of the region’s heritage. Some highlights include:
- Castellers: human castle towers. Castellers are people who are part of a team or club and practice year-round to build incredible human towers. Think a cheerleading pyramid on a much grander scale. The castellers perform during the Festes La Mercè in Barcelona to amaze crowds and show off a tradition that’s been around since the late 1700s.
- Correfoc: “fire-run” in English. At night, devils and dragons run through the streets, shooting sparks and firecrackers and playing music. Sounds crazy, right? But the tradition of correfoc, which comes from a Medieval tradition, is a spectacle to be seen. This impressive display of pyrotechnics, costumes, and mayhem is a thrilling way to experience a real Catalan celebration.
- Gegants: giant figures. Gegants are another Medieval tradition that are used to tell stories. These large figures are actually costumes and are contolled by a person inside. They dance to music in the street in parades as they recall Catalan folklore.
- Sardanes: age-old style of Catalan dance. Groups of people join hands in circles and dance to music, usually horns or oboes. What flamenco is to the south of Spain, sardanes is to Catalonia.
In addition to traditional music in the streets from the correfoc and sardanes, the city puts on free concerts across Barcelona. Concert venues include Parc de la Ciutadela, CCCB, Montjuïc Castle, the Gothic Quarter, and so many more. All concerts are free to the public and cover a variety of genres. There is music every night of Festes La Mercè in Barcelona, so be sure to check out the official program to get the full lineup!
What’s a party without some delicious food? Festes La Mercè in Barcelona does not disappoint when it comes to gastronomy. Food trucks set up shop in different corners of the city, showing off some of the city’s best cuisine. Some of Barcelona’s best restaurants participate in the festivities and serve up mouthwatering street food. Additionally, there are opportunities to sample Catalan cuisine in the city’s public barbecues. Food typically includes butifarra (Catalan sausage), fideua, and grilled sardines. These events are not free, but they are tasty opportunity to eat like a local!
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