What to do in September: Celebrate La Mercé

Every year during the last weekend of September Barcelona´s major festivities take place: La Mercé (September 24th).

The legend of La Mercé

La Mercé is the Virgin of Grace and has become the cities´ patron saint in 1687.  After a plague of locusts had destroyed the fields and the crops in the Catalan countryside the local population asked for the virgin´s assistance in fighting the pestilence. Miraculously the locusts disappeared and as a thank you she became co-patroness to Santa Eulàlia. The latter became so sad that she usually cries on La Mercé Day – an above average rainy day in Barcelona weather history.

Though La Mercé has religious origins it has nowadays grown into a festival lasting for four days with hundreds of music, cultural, artistic and culinary events. The 24th of September is a public holiday in Barcelona meaning once you leave the municipality boarders you will encounter daily business as usual. La Mercé is a must do in Barcelona!

Main Events

On Saturday, the 21st, the Correfoc – the fire runs – will take place. Along Via Laietana in downtown Barcelona a parade of devils will light impressive fireworks. This tradition originates from the “Dance of Devils” known in Catalunya since the 12th century. After the Franco dictatorship this tradition has been revived and adapted to modern times. You should check this out during your Barcelona trip.

Fireworks in Barcelona

After that you can watch the fireworks by the beach before returning downtown to see a projection show on the Neptune fountain in the Ciutadella Park. Every year a partner city is invited to join the activities. In the past it was for example Reykjavik. So in 2017 Icelandic artists turned the fountain into an erupting volcano with a life performance of drummers.

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On Tuesday, the 24th, we can recommend the grand final of La Mercé. Traditionally, this takes place by the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc close to Plaza España. The fountain was built in 1929 for the World Fair. It is the biggest ornamental fountain in Barcelona. The closing event is a Piromusical spectacle – combining music, lights, water acrobatic and fireworks into a great show.

In 2017 the first moments were dedicated to the victims of the Barcelona terrorist attack that took place in August that year where 16 people were killed.

For more than 30 minutes you will be able to watch a fantastic choreography of water, lights and fireworks. La Mercé is a Barcelona must see event!

Human Towers – Castells

Another big event is the construction of human towers – the so called Castells – a tradition dating back to the 18th century. People build a pyramid by climbing on top of each others´ shoulders. Seven to eight layers is easily possible.

Things to do in Barcelona

  • Correfoc for adults: Saturday, 21st at 8.30 pm in Via Laietana
  • Correfoc for children: Saturday, 21st at 6.30 pm in Via Laietana
  • Piromusical closing act: Tuesday, 24th at 10 pm in Avenida Reina Maria Cristina
  • Fireworks at the beach: Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd at 10 pm at Barceloneta beach
  • Official Programme for La Mercé: https://www.barcelona.cat/lamerce/en

Barcelona Private Tour Tip

Get to know many more traditions and legends during these Barcelona Private Tours:

Explore hidden streets with a friend – Discover more than the usual during this historic walking tour through the center of Barcelona – from little back alleys to magical squares that are difficult to be found on your own.

Gaudí & Barcelona Legends – Immerse with us into captivating legends from the past that can be seen everywhere in the city once you know them. Understand how architects like Gaudí were inspired by them and left a lasting impact on Barcelona.

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