The Virgin of La Mercè was named patron saint of Barcelona in 1868. From then on, a huge party is organized in Barcelona in her honour every 24th of September.
The big impulse was given in 1902 by Francesc Cambó, who introduced the elements of Catalan folklore: Castellers (human towers), giants paaes and Sardanes (typical dance of Empordà – northern Catalonia).
After various ups and downs and its survival during the difficult time of the dictatorship of General Franco, the celebration is today livelier than ever and the party that every year has the participation of all the citizens and many tourists is very ´rich´. During four days the events invade the whole city: folklore parades, concerts, facilities and shows by all types of artists, day and night.
Summarising, la Mercè is not only a typical party associated to centenary traditions, but a brilliant megaparty which is modern and even more so with the passing of time.
You have to live this experience!
Each district of the city has its own space dedicated to it, and year after year new areas add to the ´Mother of all parties´. Among them, Montjuïc is, generally, for concerts, workshops for children and a circus; the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella is the protagonist of dance. There you will be able to admire young artists and dancers which are well known all over the world.
Every year a new foreign city is invited to participate. It´s Barcelona´s way of maintaining it´s well-known liking for cultural exchange and it´s opening to the world. This year it will be St. Petersburg.
Nearly all the cuisines of the world can be tasted on this occasion (particularly the Asian and Middle Eastern one) in places dedicated to it, above all in the gardens of the Parc de la Ciutadella.
Numerous museums open its doors for free in the afternoon of the 24th of September. Among them are the Castle of Montjuïc, the Aquarium, Maritime Museum, Poble Espanyol and many others.
Actually, the real protagonists are the symbols of popular Catalan culture, as well as Barcelona´s, with the focal point being in the Plaça Sant Jaume – Diables (devils) of Barcelona, Giants, the Àliga (Eagle), Lion, Mulassa… large crowds of young people go to see the numerous concerts and shows of contemporary artists that go on all night.
Before the great moment, that also means the end of summer, many initiatives warm the engines up. Among them, the Race of La Mercè is very popular and takes place on the 18th of September, over a distance of 10 km. Entries are already available.
The entry fee is 5 euros and, like every year, part of the money goes towards UNICEF as support of a solidarity programme in Mozambique.
Don´t miss out, lastly, on the artistic fireworks of the farewell party that, also, appoints the following year.
La Mercè is celebrated this year from the 22nd until the 25th of September.
To see the complete progamme visit its website: http://www.bcn.cat/merce/es/index.shtml
Whether you decide to participate in the race and need a rest, or you decide to spend 4 nights of magic enjoying the great festival, you´ll find excellent accommodation options with apartments in Barcelona