Every festival enthusiast knows that Spain's incredible city of Barcelona offers a large number of some of the best festivals in the world, but you've not seen anything until you've experienced the fabulous La Merce Festival. An official city holiday since 1871, this yearly festival turns the entire city into one big street party that is filled with literally hundreds of amazing events and activities that are fun for those of all ages. While definite dates have not yet been confirmed for 2018, this festival is held each September with around four to seven days of celebration that are typically enjoyed near the end of the month around Sept. 24.
The Origins of La Merce Festival
Like so many of Spain's incredible celebrations, this festival began as a religious celebration that honored the Virgin of Grace along with a few other patron saints. It began in 1687 when Barcelona lost many of its valuable crops to a vast plague of locusts, and a vote was actually taken to seek assistance from the Virgin of Grace. After the locusts had died or moved on, she was credited with delivering Barcelona from this hardship and officially named the patroness of the city. The Pope officially recognized this in 1868, so the festival became a yearly event soon thereafter.
There's never a dull moment during the days and nights of this festival, and many different activities and events are normally going on at the same time so that there's always something to do, see and experience. You'll find festivities throughout the city's parks, museums, streets, squares and plazas, and these are a few of the yearly highlights that you won't want to miss.
Each day of the festival brings a fun new parade through various neighborhoods in the city. These include the parade of dragons and fire beasts, which features these magical creatures coming to life and marching through the city and the parade of giants, which boasts brilliantly colored costumed giants that dance through the streets to the beat of drums provided by percussion groups.
The Correfoc (Fire Run)
This is a lively event that occurs right at dusk and features people dressed up like devils running down the streets with handheld fireworks, and these devils are often accompanied by fire- breathing dragons. The crowd is welcome to join in, but this can be a bit intense because there are a lot of fireworks going off right in the midst of the procession. While this is for adults only, there is a mini fire run just for children before the main event. It allows for a lot of running about and fun without the fire power.
Castellers (Human Towers)
This event is literally made up of people who build a human tower with the biggest and strongest at the bottom and a little child at the very top. Thousands of people come out to see this unique process, and you'll definitely want to take a few photos.
Generally held nightly in Placa St Jaume, this is a brilliant show that projects incredible images on the side of one of the buildings found in the square. Like many of the festival events, there is no charge to attend the projection show.
More Fun at the Festival
These are just a few more fun experiences that await you at the La Merce Festival.
- Catalan Wine Fair
- Live music concerts
- Food trucks
- Street parties
- Fire shows
- Street dances
- Pyro-musical display with fireworks and water fountains dancing to music
- 10 km race
- Street performers
- Special activities for children each day