The La Merce Festival in the Catalonian capital is a yearly tradition that celebrates the life of Barcelona’s patron saint, the Virgin of La Merce, and provides residents and tourists with the chance to intertwine and have immense fun. Now, this festival commences on September 24 each year which is a work-free day for the whole of Barcelona, and when this date comes close to a weekend, it is a regional tradition to schedule a long weekend. I was informed that this is known as hacer puente, and translates as ‘making a bridge’, so you many, many people lining the streets.
Moreover, most underestimate the sheer size of the festival; hundreds of events occur all over during La Merce and it can be extremely difficult to decide which ones to go to. But, fear not, because you’ll have a whole week to try and navigate your way around the city; this can sometimes mean you don’t have enough time to visit all what you want to visit, so I recommend hiring a car just to get you from A to B faster. There are many car rentals to choose from in Barcelona, and many choose to walk instead because of this, but in my experience renting a car with Holiday Autos did the trick. It meant I didn’t miss any of the action, but of course it’s completely up to you!
Now, once you’re all set up in Barcelona, and raring to get immersed in the La Merce Festival, here are a few things to take note of…
99 Percent of the Events are FREE!
When you think of a huge festival deep in the heart of Catalonia, with all the music, dancing, food, shows and more, you tend to evaluate your budget. So, I was amazed when the majority of the events are completely free, so you can enjoy the thrills and the vibe of the La Merce festival with thousands of others without splashing the cash. Additionally, once you are in the events, the food and drink prices are very reasonable, so no need to starve or go thirsty!
Look After Yourself!
Certain parts of the festival are incredible don’t get me wrong, however they do present some risks to your health. Let me give you an example; correfoc, which is known as the ‘fire run’, see’s dragons, devils and monsters running along Via Laietana letting off a plethora of fireworks without a care in the world. Although it is an adrenaline-pumping moment and is truly crazy to watch, you do need to prepare for the array of flying sparks; wear appropriate clothing that will cover your skin, wear glasses to protect your eyes and wear a hat to protect your head!
Don’t Miss the Castellers or Gigantes!
The Castellers, also known as the human towers, are a fantastic act that climbs on top of each other to form a huge tower in front of thousands of people. Whereas the Gigantes is a huge parade of massive figures of queens, kings, nobles and saints that play the drums and dance along the sound of a flute. Both of these are not to be missed, as you’ll be in and around thousands of people taking in the atmosphere and spectating something special.