Barcelona La Merce
In Barcelona La Merce is the biggest party of the year. As with all these Saint based celebrations, the origins follow a well tested format. Place has a problem. Then religious figure solves problem. People drink lots, dance like loonies and pop into the local church to say ‘gracias’.
In this case, in 1687, a band of roving locusts was terrorising Barcelona. Consequently the ‘Consell de Cent‘ voted to ask the local Virgin (Grace) for some divine intervention. She duly delivered and was named patron saint of the city. It should be noted that the Vatican was a tad slow of the mark with regards to canonisation. It took until 1868 before Pope Pius IX gave Grace the official saintly nod.
Although the local folk celebrated the momentus locust defeat at the hand of Mare de Déu de la Mercè from the middle ages, it wasn’t until 1871 that the 24th of September became an official holiday and the party has been getting bigger ever since. At the turn of the 20th Century the mildly scary papier mache giants were introduced with the hypnotic national dance ‘Sardanas‘. In the post Olympic era there now the stupidly dangerous ‘Corre Foc‘, a 10km running race, the spectacular ‘PiroMusical‘ and more free Barcelona La Merce concerts than you could possibly need in three days.
Spoilt For Choice
Trying to plan your Barcelona La Merce madness is a tough task. Just taking in a smigeon of the official events will have you running wildly around the city like a White House spokesman trying to keep up with a tweeting Trump. But here are a few things you should really have on your ‘cubo’ list.
Corre Foc (23rd 20:00) – Now I know I said it was dangerous, but wear cotton clothes, some sort of hat, hang onto to your ‘cojones’ and join the madness. You only live once and there are loads of fire trucks and ambulances on stand by.
Mañana De Festa Major (24th 08:00) – Meet by the Mercé church and follow the procession to Plaça Jaume and then let the Trabucaire, Giants and Castellers come to you. Take a picnic!
Circus At Montjuic Castle (23rd, 24th & 25th) – If you have children or a clown fetish then head up the hill and knock yourself out. Oodles of activities and entertainment.
PiroMusical (25th 22:00) Catalonia does fireworks. Add in the MNAC back drop, the Magic Fountain and about 25,000 people and it is nothing short of spectacular. Get there super early, take food and don’t plan on getting home too quick afterwards.
BAM (22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th) Barcelona Acción Musical is a city wide live music extravaganza. If you cannot find something you like you are either deaf or dead. You can check the gigs here.
It really is a fabulous few days in Barcelona, so check you life insurance, dig out your selfie stick and get out there and enjoy it!