La Mercè – Origins, Weirdness, and What to See

La Mercè – Origins, Weirdness, and What to See

Four hundred years ago, a haze of dust and ceaseless buzzing enveloped the sky over Barcelona. To the people of the city, it was an event of Biblical proportions, a plague. There flew a plume of locusts, who devoured and consumed anything the light touched. The Consell de Cent, the leading political council of Barcelona, issued an official order out of desperation: that there be prayer for the Mare de Déu de la Mercè, the Virgin of Grace, so she may deliver the city from the plague. And it seemed she listened, for the locusts parted, and the city partied ever since.

La Mercè, ever after, became the staple celebration of the city of Barcelona. Ending on September 24th, the celebration lasts days and ranges from the traditional (Catholic processions worshiping Corpus Christi) to the very Catalonian (the giant figurines and human towers) to the more contemporary (bands and pyro-musical shows). 

The central Parc de la Ciutadella is typically transformed into an explosion of bright neon lights and esoteric decorations, including glowing human stick figures and psychedelic iridescent water.

Mercè 2017 holds many events. Almost all are musical, but the variety of musical genres and venues, as well as the sheer number of them, means you probably won’t be able to or even want to see them all.

The following is a brief list of particularly interesting or unique events: 

– The BAM Living Culture event recognizes the significance of music and its relation to Barcelona and festivals in general. It examines music in an active way, encouraging participation and audience activity. Keep your eyes open if you’re interested from Friday, 22nd September to the 23rd.

– This Acid Arab Concert sounds pretty crazy and has less fame than some of the other listings – that means it’s got to be unique and unusual, right? We always recommend checking out the unexpected. Check it out on Sunday the 24th.

– In a similar electronic vein, Milkywhale is this Mercè’s top laser show. The Icelandic duo will be hosting the show in the Parc de la Ciudadela at 1 AM every day from Friday the 22nd to Sunday 24.

– Barcelona’s jazz scene came to a start in 1966 when Dave Brubeck himself played at the Palacio de la Música Catalana, and this year’s Mercè holds no exception: the “Barcelona Jazz All Stars” concert will be playing Friday, 22nd, during the evening.

– Of course, the final event, the pyrotechnic fireworks and music display, is the most famous of the season and ends the entire celebration on Monday, 25th September. The fireworks are the most anticipated show in Barcelona and naturally the one we would most recommend seeing.

Don’t forget that from concert to concert you can enjoy various international food trucks.

There’s plenty more not on this list, and by no means do we recommend the above over the any of the rest of the events – these are just some examples that caught our eye.

Above all, La Mercè is best experienced for yourself – and walking around and exploring is better than any list of recommendations we could make. Step out, keep your mind open, be safe, and enjoy Barcelona’s biggest festival, now locust-free.

Linda Giuliano
Creative Marketing Coordinator

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