Festes de la Merçè

Mercè festivities of Barcelona


Barcelona puts an end to the summer season with its great local festival every year: La Mercè. During the days when it all takes place, the streets are filled with people who participate in the hundreds of activities planned, that give to this festival the characteristic Mediterranean vibe everybody loves. It celebrates the festivity of the la Verge de la Mercè (the Virgin of the Mercè), patron of the city from 1687, and not ratified by the pope until two centuries later, in 1868. This year 2017, La Mercè will take place between the 22nd and the 25th of September.

As we just mentioned, this festivity has a religious origin, and it is full of cultural traditions: the city streets are filled with gegants (giants) and capgrossos (big-heads), fire and demons, “human towers” known as castells and music. But don’t be scared, even though it sounds a bit weird, and even dangerous, it is not. The giants are tall figures, with paper maché head and arms, that have the rest of the body covered in clothing. They have a frame inside and people get under it to make the giants dance. The big-heads are oversized paper carton-pierre heads that are worn with a matching costume by a person. And just to make it clear, the demons is the name that receive the people that do “fire-runs”, typical from Catalonia. Sounds like good fun, doesn’t it?

Photo by: Miquel Angel Pintanel Bassets

Free concerts, activities for children, popular races, dances, exhibitions, gymkhana, photo contests, jugglers, storytellers, and a very popular musical-firework display (piromusical) to put an end to the festival. We know how the Mercè finishes, but we also know how the festival starts every year: with an announcement done by an important personality of Barcelona. This year, it will be done by Philosopher Marina Garcés, known for her critical thinking.

It is still early to know all the shows and activities planned for the festival, since the programme of La Mercè 2017 has not been released yet. However, we already know that, just like every year, the Catalan capital counts with a guest city, and Reykjavik is the chosen one for this year’s edition. The capital of Iceland will bring a lot of music and innovative visual projects to Barcelona this September. Some of the Icelandic bands that will be playing during the festival will be Samaris, Kiasmos, Grísalappalísa, and Glowie amongst many others. You may not know them yet, but we are sure you’ll love them by the end of the month.

It is also worth talking about this year’s poster. Why? Because it has been designed by the artist Javier Mariscal, the creator of Cobi, the famous mascot of the 1992 Olympic Games. The poster shows the portrait of a girl named Merche, who’s proud of being from Barcelona, and she is surrounded by some of the most characteristic features that represent the city.

Make sure to check the Barcelona’s Council website soon to find out everything about La Mercè 2017 programme. Do not miss the opportunity to wander through the streets of Barcelona and enjoy its people and its culture.

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