Get ready for the festival of festivals in Barcelona! We live in a city that celebrates festivals year-round. After a summer full of neighbourhood fiestas it’s time for the most iconic parade in Europe, La Mercè. It has a rich history and tradition, but what do you know about it? Here are some facts about this annual event in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
What is Festival La Mercè de Barcelona?
From the 23rd to the 26th of September the city will be celebrating La Mercè to pay tribute to the Mare de Deu de la Mercè (Lady of the Mercy), the Patron Saint of Barcelona. The celebration first officially took place in 1902. On this occasion, the city of Barcelona bids goodbye to the summer and welcomes autumn. Concerts, activities and entertainment will fill the streets along with a real party atmosphere. Annually a guest city is invited to join. This year Rome will show off its culture at La Mercè. Especially noteworthy are the street parades. Each day of the festival is celebrated on its own. All the entertainment is free. The metro trains will run all night. The parades are filled with mythical characters and traditional drumming.
Legend of La Mercè
This party celebrates the day that the Virgin Mary (Virgen de la Mercèd) who was commonly mentioned in many miracles related to Barcelona.
“The legend goes that on the night of 24 September 1218, the Virgin appeared simultaneously to King Jaume I, Saint Pere Nolasc and Saint Ramón de Penyafort. She asked all three to create an order of monks dedicated to saving Christians imprisoned by the Saracens. It was the time of the wars of religion
Centuries later in 1687, Barcelona suffered a plague of locusts and placed itself in the hands of the Virgin of La Mercè. Once the plague had been overcome, the Council of the City named her patron saint of Barcelona. The Pope did not ratify this decision until two centuries later, however, in 1868.
After Pope Pius IX declared the Virgin of La Mercè the patron saint of the city, Barcelona began to celebrate a festival in the month of September. La Mercè really took off in 1902, when under the impulse of Francesc Cambó, the festival became the model the those that are currently held all over Catalonia. However, the history of La Mercè would suffer many high and low points that extended throughout the Civil War and the years of Franco.”
As you there's a huge amount of events to attend, we prepared a list of our favourites.
Main events not to miss in La Mercè 2022:
If you want to experience the celebration from the very beginning we recommend joining the Opening Parade. This year the festivities of La Mercè will officially start at 7.45 pm. Different from last years, the Vigil Night where the Gegants de la Ciutat (giant size characters) will go on a parade starting from Plaça de Sant Jaume roaming the streets of Barcelona all followed by a procession of drums and percussion instruments.
Probably the highlight of the La Mercè festival for many is the correfoc. The streets will go wild with firecrackers, fireworks and devils running. We recommend you to take protective clothing such as hats, glasses and thick long-sleeved tops for the reason that flying sparklers will be sprayed into the crowds. Therefore, get ready on Sunday 25th at 5 pm to get a piece of action from Roselló to Aragó.
The Castellers are another must-see during this celebration. Their aim is to build a human tower and have a young child climb to the top of it and stand up. It requires huge teamwork and it is an amazing event to experience. After 2 years of a break due to “you know what it is” this year it will take place on Plaça de Sant Jaume around 1 pm. Due to the number of people attending, we suggest you go there a bit earlier just to make sure you get a nice view of the action.
BAM Music Festival.
The BAM (Barcelona Acción Musica) is a music festival organized by the local council as a part of the La Mercè festival. All the concerts are outdoor and free. The shows will be on stage around these venues: Moll de la Fusta Llobregat, Moll de la Fusta Besòs, Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm and Rambla de Raval. For detailed information about the concerts check the La Mercè 2022 programme here.
Finally, you cannot miss the Fireworks Final, Piromusical de La Mercè. Each year the festival closes with the pyrotechnics display performed in Reina Maria Cristina as an ending to the celebrations. This is a truly breathtaking event that sees thousands of spectators attending. It will be held on Monday 26th September starting from 10 pm.
Now you know what is La Mercè, why it is celebrated and the main events to celebrate it, it’s time to take your agenda out and fill it with the La Mercè events of 2022. If you want to read more about Barcelona or looking for a job in this attractive city check our other blog posts and job opportunities in Barcelona!