Barcelona is once again celebrating its grand festival, la Mercè. Every 24th September Barcelona dresses up for the occasion to pay tribute to the Mare de Déu de la Mercè, patron saint of Barcelona since 1687. A program full of different activities is planned for all the public, with music, dance, circus and street arts. And not forgetting the giants, dragons, fire beasts, human towers and sardana groups.
The first festival took place in 1871 and since then it has kept on growing. Concerts, activities, entertainments and a real party atmosphere fill the streets.
Les Festes de la Mercè 2019 will have hundreds of events to showcase popular Catalan and Mediterranean cultural activities. You can see the most popular events today. The 24th September is always a public holiday in Barcelona in honour of the city’s patron saint La Mercè.
Some events like La Mercè Parade ‘Cavalcada de la Mercè’, start at Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya and finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
What is it? Mercè’s BIGGEST parade called ‘Cavalcada de la Mercè’. This procession features many of the city ‘gegants’ – giants and is led by the Barcelona giants named ‘Jaume I’ and ‘Violant d´Hongria’. This parade also features groups of street artists, dancers and other traditional Catalan figures and traditions.
At Spanish and Catalan festivals you can often see ‘gegants i capgrossos’ (Catalan) or ‘gigantes y cabezudos’ (Spanish) which means ‘giants and big heads.’
A geganter is the name for a ‘giant-carrier.’ The giants are hollow festival figures usually three or four metres meters tall that show the upper part of the figure and have a skirt covering the lower part. There are around 100 papier-maché giant figures and 1000 giant-carriers in Barcelona.
The ‘capgrossos’ are the festival figures with huge heads that are worn on the head and shoulders and the person wearing a ‘capgrosso’ looks out through the mouth opening. They are made out of papier-maché. Gegants and capgrossosalso can be seen at most Catalan festivals in the ‘cercavila’ parade, which literally means ‘around the village’.
La Mercè will end, as always, with the traditional fireworks and music display, an explosion of light and sound, which has become one of the most expected and acclaimed events for the people of Barcelona and its visitors.