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Festival of La Merce

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

Barcelona’s biggest shindig, honouring its co-patron saint of the same name, is a three-day party for all. It features everything from human pyramids (castellers), dances of the gegants (festival giants), enormous processions, circus performances, concerts, theatre, dance, spectacular sound and light shows on historic buildings, and firework-spewing devils and dragons in a frenzied fire run (correfoc), set to the drums.

The festival concludes with a massive musical firework display over Montjuic’s Magic Fountain.

The Castellers

The extraordinary human towers – Castellers derives from the word Castells, Catalan for castles – are a cultural phenomenon unique to Catalonia. The tradition started in the 18th century in the city of Valls, Taronga as a traditional folklore dance. The steps of the dance were accompanied by the flute, which is still played during the tower building. Today, this jaw-dropping spectacle sees participants defy all health and safety sense to climb up to 10 stories high. You can see them on specific dates all over Catalonia. See here for more details on how they are constructed.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 8+
Frequency: annually
When: Late September
Duration: 5 days

Getting there & doing it

Main venues such as the Parc de la Ciutadella, the Forum, Plaça Sant Jaume (for the castellers), Via Laeitana (where the correfocs run), the beaches of Barceloneta (nightly fireworks) are easy to reach by metro. The Castell of Montjuïc, another venue, is linked by funicular and cableway from the Paral-lel metro station. Check the website to find out when and where the popular street events take place, and arrive an hour early to get a good spot. For the 10pm firework display at the Magic Fountain, get there even earlier. Although many events are free, you’ll need tickets for some shows: pick them up at the Tiquet Rambles booth in the Palau de la Virreina at La Rambla, 99.

When to do it

The festival is held on the last weekend of September each year.