During the second half of September, Barcelona celebrates every year "La Mercè", that is, its Fiesta Mayor. A Fiesta Mayor that we could define as a festival of festivals, multitudinous and popular, which in one week brings together between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000,000 people in different public spaces of the city, to follow and enjoy the many cultural, artistic and festive activities.
The city becomes a great stage overflowing with imagination and fantasy. The involvement of a large number of groups and entities is its great secret. Private sponsors and collaborating companies give their support. And, in addition, all the proposals, from the most popular to the most sophisticated and minority, are free.
And what can we see during La Mercè?
- Street theater stands out: dance, circus, brass bands, elite proposals or traveling shows that are grouped under the name of MAC (Mercè Arts de Carrer).
- Large-format night shows: related to light and new technologies through artistic projections on buildings and monuments, or fire and pyrotechnics.
- Traditional activities: "toc d'inici" (opening the festivities), parade of giants, human towers ("castellers"), sardanas, groups of choirs and dances, "correfocs", parades of "bastoners", "grallers" and "trabucaires" that bring together a total of 600,000 people.
- Music also plays an important role during the Festival of "La Mercè". Two proposals are combined: a series of concerts programmed for all kinds of audiences and the BAM (Barcelona Acción Musical), a festival of independent music that brings together the best of the Catalan music scene and the rest of Spain, and some top international figures.
- The ACV (Acción Cultural Viva) festival, which in addition to transgressive, inclusive and experimental musical proposals, offers a Record Fair, a live community radio broadcast, several workshops and performances, and the Discofòrum, a space to listen, share and talk about music.
- La Cursa: a 10 km race that passes through the most emblematic places in Barcelona. It's nice to see it, but in this activity, it's better to participate.
La Mercè 2023
The proclamation and the town crier
This year's pregonera will be the writer Najat El Hachmi, Najat El Hachmi is a prominent writer who was born in Morocco and moved to Vic when she was 8 years old. Her literary work explores themes of identity, migration and multiculturalism, and has received praise for her narrative style and her ability to portray the complexities of the immigrant experience. His novel "El lunes nos querrán" is one of his most recognized works.
The guest city
Each year Barcelona declares a guest city that has special relevance in the selection of events. Kiev is the guest city at La Mercè 2023, so this year's La Mercè will be imbued with the culture and talent of the Ukrainian capital. Kiev will leave its mark on one of the most deeply rooted traditions of Barcelona's heritage andwill present the city with two giants representing its holy princes, Olga and Volodymyr. They will be presented in the Toc d'Inici and will walk as guests in the Cavalcade of La Mercè. From this Eastern European country we will also be able to see their own dances. The group Kyiv Academic Theater of Ukrainian Folklore "Berehynia" will offer a show and a workshop open to everyone. There will also be a contemporary dance performance by Alina Sokulska. Other outstanding events will be the Circus Cabaret presented by Itziar Castro at the Montjuïc Castle, with the participation of Ukrainian artists (September 23, 24 and 25); and the Ukraine Fest at the Palacete Albéniz (September 24), with a fair of artisans and theater, dance and music proposals by artists from the refugee country in Catalonia.
The traditional Mercè
La Mercè is, above all, tradition in its purest form. Through the streets and squares of the district of Ciutat Vella and some of the Eixample you can see parading and dancing the Giants of the City, the Eagle, the Bull, the Mulassa, the Víbria and the rest of the beings of Barcelona's festive imaginary. If you like strong emotions, follow the devils and drummers of the Correfoc through the streets of Barcelona, who have been preparing the gunpowder for days, and do not miss the Castellers day, the mornings of Grallers, the Trabucaires and the Bastoners.
This year, from the stages of La Mercè, you will hear the sounds of the most diverse styles and origins, such as the timeless pop of Selma Bruna, the best variety of Cadena 100, symphonic dances with the Municipal Band of Barcelona and the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra (Texas), festive sounds from Japan, sardanas, BOYE concert at Bogatell beach (electrorap, indie and funk), the Latin music of iLe or the drone show 30 years Vila Olímpica at Bogatell beach.
The BAM (Barcelona Acció Musical)
With the BAM, Barcelona fills up with stages where emerging bands from the Catalan, Spanish and international music scene perform. A program with more than thirty shows that includes musical and artistic proposals of different styles, origins, bodies and cultures. The BAM is a space to enjoy again the representation of the different alternatives that are a reality in today's society. As Kiev is the guest city of La Mercè 2023, the BAM includes two proposals from Ukraine, with the electronica of Poly Chain and the hiphop of Alyona Alyona.
ACV (Acción Cultural Viva)
In this year's edition, Acció Cultura Viva will take place in different spaces in Sant Andreu, placing the main stage in Can Fabra square with a larger, covered stage; and the closing day at Nau Bostik. The program offers participatory activities and workshops, a discussion on music festival models, the Independent Record Fair, several gastronomic spaces, radio programs, small concerts and much more.
The MAC (Mercè Arts de Carrer)
The MAC 2023, Barcelona's festival of theater, circus and outdoor performance installations, will take place in several emblematic venues in the city. The Estació del Norr, Palacete Albéniz, Montjuïc Castle, and other venues will host a varied program that will include contemporary dance, new technologies, puppetry, street theater and more. The festival will feature local and international artists such as Carla Sisteré, UnaiUna, Lali Ayguadé, and renowned companies such as the Kyiv Academic Theater "Berehynia" from Ukraine, offering a unique cultural experience during four days of celebration.
The Ciutadella Park will not be available this year due to ongoing works.
Light and Fire
The International Pyrotechnical Festival and the Pyromusical
Three days of pyrotechnics. On September 22 and 23 with the International Pyrotechnic Festival and on September 25 with the Piromusical, which every year ends the festivities of La Marcè. The International Pyrotechnic Festival will take place on the beach of Barceloneta, where AlBahiya Palace promises to create a unique and dazzling spectacle involving the latest technology. It will be an explosion of colors and special effects in the sky.
Fireworks will once again take center stage during the Piromusical, one of the most important events of La Mercè. There will be a fireworks launch from Montjuïc and a big party for the citizens on the Reina Maria Cristina Avenue. The Piromusical is an emblematic festival of Barcelona that combines fireworks and synchronized music. In this edition of La Mercè 2023, the festival will feature a soundtrack by Sonar to celebrate its 30 years of existence. Pirotecnia Igual, a Catalan company with a long tradition in the manufacture of fireworks, will be in charge of lighting up the sky of Barcelona with an innovative proposal. This collaboration between Piromusical and Sonar promises to be an unforgettable event.
All fireworks shows start at 10:00 pm.
Discounts and paid activities
On September 22, 23 and 24 at 4:00 p.m. the Sagrada Familia organizes open days. You can also visit for free the Santa Monica art center and the Arús Public Library.
From September 19 to 24 the Mercès, and a companion, will be able to enter free of charge to the MNAC. Remember also that the Antiquarian and Modern Second-hand Book Fair is held within the framework of La Mercè.
Sports at La Marcè
During the festival there are classic events such as the Mercè Race, which, attention, is held on Sunday September 17, but there will also be the festival of extreme sports Extreme Barcelona (September 17), an International Senior Masters Softball Tournament (September 22), the Open Water TICB - Barcelona Port Crossing and Aquathlon (September 23), the Inclusive Fitness Festival (September 24), and other sporting events.