Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by Christian Heide
Every year during the last weekend of September Barcelona´s major festivity takes place: La Mercé (September 24th). It has grown into a big festival in present days where Barcelonians are out and about in the streets and celebrate.
In 2020 many events had to be cancelled due to the Corona pandamic. There were only a few stages through out the city with an invited audience that was seated taking into consideration safety distances. But since 2023 the festival is back in full swing.
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. According to a legend the latter became so sad that she started crying on the first La Mercé Day – which is an above average rainy day in Barcelona when looking at the 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, however, outside of Barcelona it is not, meaning once you leave the municipality borders you will encounter daily business as usual. La Mercé is a must do in Barcelona!
La Mercé – Main Events
The Correfoc – the so-called fire run – will take place along Via Laietana in the historic center of 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 had been revived and adapted to modern times. You should check this out during your Barcelona trip.
Fireworks in Barcelona
After the Correfoc you can go down to the beach and enjoy a beautiful firework before attending one of the many cultural events all over the city that last until late in the night. For example the Ciutadella Park is a wonderful option. Every year a partner city will co-host La Mercé. In 2017 this was the city of Reykjavik. They organised a projection show on the Neptune fountain in the park. Icelandic artists turned the fountain into an erupting volcano with a life performance of drummers.
The grand final of La Mercé takes traditionally place by the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc close to Plaza España. The fountain was built in 1929 for the World Exhibition. It is the biggest ornamental fountain in Barcelona. The closing event is a pyro-musical spectacle – combining music, lights, water acrobatic and fireworks into a great show.
For more than 30 minutes you will be able to watch a fantastic choreography. 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.
(Photo: Archive dasbcnmagazin.com)
Things to do in Barcelona
The official programme for La Mercé can be found at: https://www.barcelona.cat/lamerce/en
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.