Festes de la Merçè

Mercè festivities of Barcelona


One more year, Barcelona closes the summer season with its big festival: The Festival of La Mercè. During the days it is celebrated, the streets and squares of Barcelona are filled with people who participate in the hundreds of activities planned, which give this festival that cheerful atmosphere, so characteristic, that everyone loves. The celebration commemorates the feast of the Mare de Déu de La Mercè (Virgin of La Mercè), patron saint of the city since 1687 -when Barcelona suffered a plague of locusts that was eradicated after being placed in the hands of the virgin- and not ratified by the Pope until two centuries later, in 1868. This 2022 the festival will be celebrated between September 23 and 26.

To know the history of this festivity, we have to go back several centuries. Specifically to the night of September 24, 1218, when the Virgin of La Mercè appeared simultaneously to King James I, St. Peter Nolasco and St. Raymond of Penyafort to ask them to create an order of monks dedicated to saving imprisoned Christians.

This festivity, which, therefore, has a religious origin, is also full of cultural traditions of a very popular character, it is characterized by leisure in the streets, which are filled with gegants (giants) and big-heads, fire and demons, human towers known as castells (human towers) and music. But don’t be scared, although it sounds a bit strange, and even dangerous, it is not. The gegants are nothing more than tall figures, with papier-mâché heads and hands, with the rest of their bodies covered with clothes. They have a wooden structure inside and a person is put inside them to make the gegants dance. The cabezudos are large papier-mâché heads that are worn with a matching costume. And just to make it clear, the demons are the name given to the people who make the correfoc (fire-runner), typical of Catalonia. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Rome, the guest city for La Mercè 2022

As every year, Barcelona invites a city on the occasion of the festivities of La Mercè. It was Beirut in 2019 and Havana in 2021, and in this 2022 edition, the chosen one is Rome, a city with a lot of history and a very Mediterranean culture and lifestyle, which is very similar to Barcelona. For this reason, the festival also includes in its program numerous music, dance, and street art shows related to the culture of the Italian city, as well as the viewing of films such as Rome, by Federico Fellini (Saturday, September 24), and La grande bellezza, by Paolo Sorrentino (Sunday, September 25), among others. At the same time, the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA) reopens the remains of ancient Barcino, in honor of the Roman colony that founded Barcelona more than 2,000 years ago.

Free concerts, activities for children, popular races, dances, exhibitions, gymkhanas, photo contests, jugglers, storytellers, and the already popular pyro-musical fireworks show to end the festival. We know how La Mercè ends, but we also know how it begins every year: with a proclamation made by an important personality of Barcelona. This year it will be given by the Catalan filmmaker Carla Simón.

We can not forget either the poster of this year, the work of illustrator David de las Heras, and in which we can see represented three generations of Barcelona women enjoying the party, with fireworks, castellers and flowers around them. In this way, the artist has tried to represent La Mercè as a transversal and intergenerational festival.

Photo by: Miquel Angel Pintanel Bassets

La Mercè festivities: where to stay

If you are looking for accommodation in Barcelona for La Mercè, at MH Apartments we have different options of tourist apartments in Barcelona. Specifically, 11 holiday apartment buildings in the center of Barcelona (Las Ramblas, Eixample and Sagrada Familia).

Don’t forget to check Barcelona City Council’s website to find out everything about La Mercè 2022 program. Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll through the streets of Barcelona and enjoy its people and culture.