La Merce is a festival celebrating the patron saint of Catalunya. It runs during a weekend at the end of September. This is when the city is truly alive. In 2017 the festival ran from September 22nd – 25th. Throughout the days there were many cultural events to go to, such as the correfoc, a fire run that takes place at “the gates of hell,” and castallers, a competition where they build structures out of people, and so many more. Along with these, there are numerous other things to attend, like concerts, food, and more. The whole city is hosting things, from the beach, to Plaza Espanya, to the Arc de Triomf.
Before the correfoc, I went to a choir performance outside of the cathedral of Barcelona, which was stunning. The sun was setting and the lighting on the cathedral was so beautiful.
The correfoc was my favorite event. I enjoyed the pairing of the drums and fire. Throughout the weekend there were several events, but the biggest was Saturday night. The crowd for the nighttime correfoc is huge, so get there early to get a decent spot. A few hours earlier, we wandered towards where the correfoc was to take place and there was smaller one where I could get as close as I wanted.
On Sunday, I went to Plaza de Jaume and watched a few of the Castellers.
It was truly amazing to watch all these people create a tower out of people. They shimmy up the backs of each other so quickly that you don’t even realize what’s happening. Watching them get down is almost more interesting. The people just slide down the backs of the others. Odds are you will watch at least one tower topple, but don’t worry- they’re all always totally fine. The tower goes up and down in about 3 minutes total, so keep your eye out, it goes quickly!! I also saw the teams practicing beforehand.
The whole festival ends with a firework show in Plaza Espanya.
What amazed me the most was seeing around eight different monuments in one place. Everyone is in the plaza, there’s a fountain going with the music and fireworks, and the castle-turned-art-museum is lit with varying colors. What a beautiful end to an amazing festival.
Anywhere you go, you’re bound to find something going on. If you’re even slightly interested in Catalan culture, this is the festival to attend.
The world awaits…discover it.