It doesn’t matter how many festivals you’ve been to in Barcelona – if you’ve never been to La Mercè, you haven’t seen anything yet. La Mercè started being celebrated in 1871 as a way to pay homage to the city’s patron saint and eventually it grew to be a gigantic event that attracts around two million people every year.
Happening this year from September 22 to 25, it will feature several different cultural and artistic activities all throughout Barcelona, celebrating both tradition and innovation with equal enthusiasm.
With creativity as the major driving force behind its attractions, the La Mercè Festival includes parades, dancing, circus, street theatre, music and a great diversity of other cultural forms of expression. The festival is divided into 4 main sections/locations:
BAM – A music festival within a festival, Barcelona Acció Musical (Barcelona Musical Action) has over 20 years of history. During La Mercè, its stage will host more than 40 bands, showcasing the best of both national and international independent music. Artists confirmed so far include Jeanne Added, Aquagascallo and Lloyd Cole.
Location: various venues
Montjuïc Castle – The beautiful Montjuïc Castle will provide the scenario for fantastic circus shows and other artistic/athletic exhibitions. Already confirmed to perform are French circus troupes Compagnie SID and Compagnie Retouramont.
Location: Carretera de Montjuïc, 66
Mercè Música – The second musical stage of La Mercè will feature genres as distinct as big band jazz, ska, afro fusion and pop. Big Mama & Big Blues Band, Baaba Maal, La Raíz, La Grand Pegatina, Bachar Mar – Khalifé and Kiko Veneno are the names confirmed so far.
Location: various venues
Parc de la Ciutadella – Probably the most versatile venue of La Mercè, Parc de la Ciutadella will host everything from hip-hop dancing to satirical live theatre, including installation art, choreographies and parades featuring giants and big-heads (costumed paper maché figures).
Location: Passeig de Picasso, 21
Related article: Catalan folk culture and Casa dels Entremesos
Paris as the official guest city
Believing that culture has no borders, the festival organizers are constantly looking for new perspectives and fresh influences – and they found them in Paris, where a rich new wave of artistic talent has emerged in recent years. As a result, the program includes plenty of French performers and groups, as well as artistic concepts that have already been seen (and met with great success) on the streets of Paris.
No tickets needed
Normally, in this section, we’d tell you about ticket prices and where to buy them. Well, in this case, the festival is absolutely free! This also means you have no excuses to stay home – explore Barcelona during the festivities and let yourself be amazed by a unique mix of tradition and forward thinking. As always, feel free to speak your mind using the comment box below. What are you most looking forward to seeing in La Mercè?