You just got to Barcelona and are already struggling to make yourself feel like home, without missing any ESN activity, meeting dozens of new friends and of course trying to remember every talk you’ve been given at uni. And yet your new city has much more to offer in your first weekend in the city - have you heard about La Mercè? Learn how to live it like a local!
“Patrona” of Barcelona
September 24th is “Saint Mercè”, who became the second patron saint of the city after Barcelona was miraculously saved from a plague of locusts back in 1688. Legend has it “Saint Eulàlia”, the original “patrona” of the city, cries every September 24th because her main position was taken, therefore causing rains during the celebrations. Regardless, La Mercè has become the perfect festivity to give end to our Catalan summer and show our love to the wonderful city of Barcelona!
Because we want to “celebrate our city”, the City Hall opens the main buildings and museums for its citizens: go inside the City Hall and Palau de la Generalitat or visit MNAC and MUHBA to learn about our history and art. All for free! You should expect long queues, but we’re sure it will definitely be worth it!
European Mobility Week
September 22nd is the “Day without Cars” and Barcelona encourages a sustainable mobility in order to improve the quality of its air and recover the public space. Yoga, tai-chi, swing lessons or a recycling workshop will be some of the activities around the city. Join our bike tour and be part of the change!
And this is where the real activity starts: on September 24th you’ll be able to enjoy one of the biggest “diada de castellers”, which means the meeting of human tower groups (or “colles” in Catalan) of the city of Barcelona: Sants, Gràcia, Sagrada Família… Join the hundreds of people who gather at Plaça Sant Jaume and cheer up those from your own new neighbourhood - you don’t want to miss such an incredible show!
Cavalcada de la Mercè
Giants, dwarfs, effigies, “big heads”... it’s not a fantasy movie but rather the very different kinds of figures you’ll find walking around the city center on the big parade of La Mercè. They’re all part of our Catalan tradition and each village in Catalonia has its own. Discover more about them and dance to the recognizable sound of the “gralla” on September 24th in the afternoon!
Estrella Damm Concerts
Of course, there’s no celebration without music. For the last few years, Estrella Damm, the famous beer of the Mediterranean Sea, offers a stage with the biggest international and national bands. Dig in the local music and enjoy the songs by La Iaia, Els Catarres, Doctor Prats or Love of Lesbian by the sea.
And if you prefer international alternative music, the Barcelona Acció Musical stages are your place. 3 different squares next to Raval and MACBA will host smaller bands from every corner of the world, with the special participation of several Portuguese artists, the guest country of 2018.
Besides castellers and gegants, there’s one more tradition Catalans love - and that’s fire! Get under the fireworks of our “colles de dimonis” (demons) and dance and jump like a kid. Don’t forget to bring a sweater, scarf and even goggles if you don’t want to get burned. It will indeed be an amazing experience!
Finally, if you’d rather enjoy the fire from a further distance, piromusical is your place. An excellent show of fireworks and music will end the festivities until we meet again next year. Meet us to enjoy it together on September 24th and let us know what’s been your favourite event during La Mercè! You won’t regret it!
ESN Barcelona UPF Team
Photo 1: Museu del Disseny de Barcelona (via guia.barcelona.cat)
Photo 2: MNAC (via Crónica Global)
Photo 3: Bicicletada
Photo 4: Castellers a la Mercè (via Castellers de Vilafranca)
Photo 5: Cavalcada de la Mercè (via Ticketea)
Photo 6: Concerts de la Mercè (via catorze.cat)
Photo 7: Correfoc (via shbarcelona)
Photo 8: Piromusical (via Time Out)