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La Mercè - Top Events Merce Festival Barcelona E-mail
Written by festivals   

Merce Festival Barcelona 2015

La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2015 

La Mercè 2015 - Top Events Merce Festival Barcelona. English guide to highlights of Barcelona's biggest festival
Also called Les Festes de la Mercè - Fiestas de la Mercè 2015. 
La Merce 2015 dates are Friday 18th September to Thursday 24th September 2015

Merce Festival Barcelona. The Barcelona Merce festival 2015 dates are Friday 18th September to Thursday 24th September 2015. This Merce Festival 2015 guide lists the best things to do and what to see during Barcelona's biggest annual festival.

The Merce 2015 public holiday is on 24th September 2015. Barcelona's metro trains will be open all night during the Merce festival. La Merce is "La festa major de Barcelona" and the biggest city festival of the year in Barcelona.

Scroll down this page to find top things to do at Barcelona Merce Festival including concerts, fireruns, fireworks, human towers and much more. La Merce always has hundreds of wonderful events in the Merce festival, so be sure to check links below for highlights and download the full Merce festival programme. Bones festes de la Mercè!  TWEET THIS PAGE

PDF Festival highlights La Merce 2015 (in Catalan)

PDF full calendar Merce Festival 2015
BAM festival concert calendar 2015

Pictures Merce Festival
Map locations Merce events

Twitter search  #mercè14

Merce Festival Apps

Merce Festival Iphone App
Merce festival Android App

Map Merce Festival locatons


Origins of Merce Festival name

Barcelona's biggest annual festival is the Merce Festival - “Les Festes de la Mercè." This is the celebration of the Patron Saint of Barcelona, the Virgin Mary, who is called “María de las Mercedes”, meaning "Mary of Mercies." She is also called ”La Mare de Deu de la Mercè," meaning “Mother of God of Mercy” in Catalan -  or “Virgin de La Mercè” – Virgin of Mercy - or "Nuestra Señora de la Merced" (Spanish) which means Our Lady of Mercy - or La Mercè for short. The words "Mercè" in Catalan and "Merced" in Spanish, mean "mercy” in English.

The legend of La Mercè 

According to legend on the night of 2nd August 1218 the Virgin Mary appeared to the Catalan knight Pere Nolasc. She asked him to form a sacred order of monks in her name. He did as she asked and formed the Order of Merced, which was dedicated to ransoming Christians, who had been taken prisoner by Saracen pirates during the wars of the crusades and who could not afford to pay their ransoms.
Pere Nolasc had actually already been doing this since 1202,  15 years before the Virgin appeared to him, but he constantly prayed for help and divine intervention and this came in the form of a Marian experience in the year 1218. The Order of Mercy was established on August 10th 1218 with the help of Nolasc's confessor at Barcelona cathedral, Saint Ramón de Penyafort and with support from the King Jaume 1 of Aragon who was also Count of Barcelona.

All the details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy are kept to this day in the Aragon Crown Archives in Barcelona. Centuries later, in 1687, the Virgin of La Mercè came to the aid of the city Barcelona by making a plague of locusts disappear. After the locust plaque the Council of the City elected La Merce as the patron saint of Barcelona and she was later canonised as a patron saint of the city in 1868 by the Pope Pius IX. Since 1687 the city has celebrated La Mercè festival every year in Barcelona and the locust plague has never returned.

La Mercè was also briefly appointed commander of the army during the war of succession in 1714, when the Barcelona was under siege by the French. Virgin of La Mercè had better success fighting locusts than French soldiers because in 1714 Barcelona lost the battle and the city was captured by the French on September 11th 1714. This defeat is now commemorated on September 11th as the Catalunya national day.

La Mercè church in Barcelona - Basilica La Mercè

There is a sculpture of La Merce on top of the church called "Basilica La Mercè" on the square Plaça de la Mercè in the Gothic area of Barcelona near Barcelona's Port Vell harbour and quite close Las Ramblas. This is the only church in Barcelona with a baroque façade. The first church on this location was built in 1267 and it has later been reformed several times. Between 1765 y 1775 the architect Josep Mas renovated the present day church Basilica La Mercè. The building at the opposite end of the plaza was formerly a convent called "Convent of the Mercè," and is an military building today. The fountain on the Merce plaza of Neptune is the Greek god of the sea in Roman mythology. Look up at the basilica La Mercè and you will see the sculpture of the Virgin on the roof. Inside the church you can see a gothic wooden statue of “Virgin and Child” attributed to the artist Pere Moragues in 1361.

Highlights of Les Festes de la Mercè 2015

Les Festes de la Mercè 2015 will have hundreds of big and small events which showcase popular Catalan and Mediterranean culture. You can see the most popular events below. The Merce festival is a festival with a music festival, Catalan traditions, parades, concerts, firework displays, a 10km run and many more events in Barcelona at many locations in the city.

Some events like the 10k Merce run take place before or after the main festival. The 24th September is always a public holiday in Barcelona in honour of the city's patron saint La Merce and in 2015 the Merce public holiday is on Thursday 24th September 2015.

The metro, FGC and trams usually have extended hours during some days of  the Merce festival. Many of the Merce activities also have special buses. Bicing city bikes (residents only) are usually open 24 hours a day during the festival
. The poster for the 2015 Merce festival is by Sean Scully. See the previous Merce festival posters here.

Merce festival metro / bus timetables

Mercè Concerts and music festivals 

La Merce Festival Barcelona

Merce 2015
BAM music festival (Barcelona Acción Musica) 23rd edition of BAM (Barcelona Acció Musical) Bam is an annual indie music festival during the Merce Barcelona city festival. All BAM festival concerts are outdoor and free. The BAM festival is organised by the city of Barcelona and has around over 100 free open-air concerts by artists from many countries on five open air venues in Barcelona. Visit the BAM website to see full festival programme

Locations of BAM concerts

PLAÇA DELS ÀNGELS by MACBA museum  Map link
JOAN COROMINES - in Raval area in CCCB cultural centre  Map link
PARC DEL FÒRUM in Diagonal Mar area   Map link
ANTIGA FÀBRICA D'ESTRELLA DAMM - Eixample area  Map link
MOLL DE LA FUSTA - harbour area  Map link 

One of the highlights of BAM music festival is the street concert at the "Antiga fàbrica d'Estrella Damm" in Eixample on Saturday 19th September 2015 from 19:00 onwards featuring 3 bands headlined by Crystal Fighters. Among other big concerts at Merce are the 40 principales concert at Avenida Reina Cristina near Plaza Espanya. Visit the BAM website and Merce website to see full programme of concerts and artist line-up.

Mercè Parades and traditional Catalan events

La Merce Festival Barcelona giants

Activity: Opening ceremony procession "Toc d’Inici" or
"Seguici Inaugural" 
Date:  Friday 18th September 2015
7pm - 19:00
Where: Starts at Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla then at 7pm and finishes at Plaça de Sant Jaume both the Gothic area of Barcelona
Seguici Inaugural - also called "Toc d’Inici" which means "starting touch." This is the opening procession of La Merce, which features the mythical figures of "bestiari de Barcelona" and giants and bigheads, called "Gegants i Capgrossos" in Catalan language,from medieval Barcelona. The parade ends on Plaça de Sant Jaume, where the gegants and capgrossos perform their dances to the sounds of the traditional minstrels called "Ministrers del Camí Ral" who meet just once a year especially for this event..

Activity:  Passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc - Parade of Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beasts 
Date:    Saturday 19th September 2015
9pm - 21:00

Where: Starts at Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area of Barcelona, then along streets Ferran, las Ramblas, Cardenal Casañas, Plaça del Pi, Plaça Sant Josep Oriol, Palla, Plaça Nova, Bisbe, to finish at Plaça Sant Jaume
What is it? Parade of Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beasts 

Activity: Parade "Xambanga de Gegants " - Giants’ Xambanga
DateWednesday 23rd September 2015
  9pm - 21:00

Where:  Parade start near Maritime museumFinish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
What is it? The "Xambanga de Gegants" is a procession of "dancing" giants from many districts and neighbourhoods of Barcelona. Both the groups and the giants dance to traditional drums and pipes and sometimes even to pop music. This event is especially fun because the giants and giants groups are dressed up in their own fancy dress and different costumes. This parade starts near the Maritime museum on Carrer del Portal de Santa Madrona then goes along street la Rambla, street Ferran to end at Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Gothic area.

Activity:  La Mercé Parade "Cavalcada Mercè" - also called "La Gran Cavalcada de la Mercè"
Date:  Thursday 24th September 2015
from 6pm to 8pm - 18:00 to 20:00
Where:  Map parade route
Start:  Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya

Finish:  Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
Nearest Metro station: Barceloneta station on yellow line L4 
What is it? Merce's biggest parade called Cavalcada Mercè and often called "la Gran Cavalcada de la Mercè." This procession features many of the city "gegants" - giants  and is led by the Barcelona giants called "Jaume I"  and "Violant d´Hongria." There are also groups of street artists, dancers and many other traditional Catalan figures and traditions. This procession starts at 18.00 from the Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya, then goes down La Rambla, turns at Ferran street to finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume

Map "Cavalcada Mercè" parade route

About gegants and capgrossos traditions

Mercè Sardanes dancing

La Merce Festival Barcelona sardanes

Activity: Sardanes inaugurals amb la Cobla de Sant Jordi
DateFriday 18th September 2015
  7pm - 19:00 

Where:  Av. de la Cathedral in front of Barcelona Cathedral
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? Sardanes is the traditional folk dancing of Catalunya. The "cobla" is the band that plays for the Sardana dancers.

Activity: 65è Concurs de Colles Sardanistes – Sardanes dancing competition
DateSunday 20th September 2015

Where:  Av. de la Cathedral in front of Barcelona Cathedral
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? Big sardanes dance competition in front of Barcelona Cathedral. This is a lovely event to watch with many sardanas groups competing.

About Sardanes dancing and cobla music
Pictures Sardanes dancing

Merce Correfocs - Fire runs

La Merce Festival Barcelona Correfoc firerun

: Firerun - Cercavila de Foc - 
Correfoc infantil - Children's Correfoc
Date:   Sunday 20th September 2015 
6.30pm - 18:30
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4

Where: Starts and ends on Via Laietana between Carrer de Joan Massana and Plaça d'Antoni Maura 
What is it?  "Correfoc infantil dels petits diables" is the special children's correfoc firerun with fireworks and firecrackers that are a little less noisy and scary for the kids and with special focus on the children. The children's correfoc is on street Via Laietana. There are correfoc activities and workshops all day in front of the Santa Catarina market.

: Firerun - 
Correfoc - Porta de l´Infern
Date:   Sunday 20th September 2015
20:30 - 8.30pm
Where: Starts at Plaça d'Antoni Maura on Via Laietana then down Via Laietana to Plaça d'Antonio López to end at Carrer del Consolat de Mar
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4

What is it? The Correfoc is one of the most popular events of La Merce with up to 70.000 spectators. About forty groups of "colles de diables" - “groups of devils” from in and around Barcelona, as well as dragons and other "bestiari de foc" -  fire beasts, take part in this festival of fire. The legend of Correfoc is that the  Mascle Cabró (Catalan) or Macho Cabrón in Spanish - a male goat or ram in English - hears the arrival of the "diables" the devils,  and commands his armies to cross the gate of hell called "Porta de l´Infern" which separates the real world from hell. At the end of the correfoc the devils are sent back into hell. The Merce correfoc starts with spectacular fireworks of the "Porta de l´Infern " - "Gates of Hell," which then open and release the "diables" to start the "correfoc"  firerun. About 80.000 fireworks are used during the correfoc so you are advised to follow some basic correfoc safety precautions about practical clothes to wear to see a correfoc. Ear plugs are a very good idea or just put some tissue paper in your ears, because it's very noisy, especially when the "Trabucaires" Catalan "bandits" shoot their blunderbuss guns  There is also a children's correfoc the same day at 18:30 and you can find correfoc activities and workshops all day in front of the Santa Catarina food market in the Born neighbourhood.

About correfoc traditions in Catalonia

Merce Castellers - Human Tower building 

La Merce Festival Barcelona Human Towers

Castellers display - Human castles
"Diada castellera amb les colles locals" 

Date Thursday 24th September 2015

Where:  Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Gothic quarter
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What it is? "Diada castellera amb les colles locals." Castellers display by Barcelona groups of human tower builders on Plaça de Sant Jaume, Barcelona at 12.30. Features all the Barcelona city human tower groups which are the Castellers de Barcelona, Castellers de la Sagrada Família, Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia, Castellers de Sants and Castellers del Poble-Sec.

Activity: Falcons de Barcelona i cercavila - Falcons human towers display and parade
Date:  Sunday 20th September 2015 
at 11:00
Where: Starts at Av. de la Catedral and finishes at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Nearest Metro station:  Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What it is? Matí de Falcons. Falcon Tower building display by "Colla Falcons de Barcelona" and "Falcons del País del Cava." The groups will tour the gothic area from Plaça de Santa Jaume to Barcelona cathedral. This is another form of human tower building called the Falcon discipline named after a Czech tradition called "Sökol," which means falcon. Falcon structures were popular in Catalonia at the beginning of the 20th century, but then fell out of favour. In Barcelona a young group called the Barcelona Falcons has revived this tradtion of making falcon structures and they performed first at the Saint Eulalia festivities in 2003. Very festive to watch.  This is another form of human tower building called the Falcon discipline named after a Czech tradition called "Sökol," which means falcon.

Falcon human tower structures were popular in Catalonia at the beginning of the 20th century but then fell out of favour. In Barcelona a young group called the Barcelona Falcons revived the tradition and peformed first at the Saint Eulalia festivities in 2003. Fun to watch.

Activity: Festa Castellera - human towers display
"Diada castellera de les colles convidades."

DateSunday 20th September 2015
at 12:00
Where:   Plaça de Sant Jaume - Gothic quarter
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I - Yellow line L4
What is it? "Cercavila de castellers i festa castellera" also called "Diada castellera de les colles convidades"  Biggest human towers Castellers display of the Merce Festival. Takes place on Plaça de Sant Jaume, Barcelona featuring top "colles" i.e. groups of castellers invited from all over Catalunya including Castellers de Barcelona, Minyons de Terrassa and Castellers de Vilafranca. Very exciting to watch. Pl Jaume will be very crowded, but generally the crowds tend to loosen and disperse after each tower, so with a little patience you will be sure to see some of these stunning human towers that reach 9 and 10 levels in height.   Read about castellers traditions 

Barcelona Air show - Festa al Cel
Festa al Cel. Barcelona Airshow.
Barcelona Air Show left the Merce festival in 2014 and moved to Mataró beach which is 30 minutes north of Barcelona and easily reachable by train. The Barcelona airshow is on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September 2015. 

Merce Circ al Castell - Circus Festival
Activity: Circus Festival at Montjuic Castle
Dates: During Merce
Where:   Castell de Montjuic on Montjuic hill
What is it? Merce circus festival at Castell de Montjuic during Merce Festival with many local and international artists. The focal point of the circus festival of Merce is the large circus tent in the Santa Eulàlia castle moat.
Programme Merce activities at Montjuic Castle and Circ al Castell

Merce Sports Events
There are many sports events during La Merce festival. At Port Vell marina in Barcelona harbour you can see the traditional Merce open water harbour swim on  the popular 10k run Cursa de la Merce, both on Sunday 13th September 2015. The Merce festival also hosts a beach rugby tournament and a beach vollyball tournament

Festival Pirotècnic fireworks display
Activity: Mercè 2015 Festival Pirotècnic
Dates:  Friday 18th September 2015 and Saturday 19th September 2015 
Time:  10pm - 22:00

Admission:  FREE
Location:   Platja de la Barceloneta - by "Espigó del Gas" breakwater
Nearest metro station: Ciutadella Vila Olimpica L4 - or Barceloneta L4
What is it? El Foc de la Mercè" Festival Pirotècnoc Internacional. Two nights of spectacular fireworks displays at 10pm on the beach of Barceloneta at the Platja de la Barceloneta by the "Espigó del Gas" which is the name of the first breakwater south of Port Olimpic.

Merce Piromusical - Fireworks Magic Fountain
Activity: Mercè 2015: Piromusical - Music, fireworks and Magic Fountain light and water display
Date:  Thursday 24th September 2015
: 10pm - 22:00

Admission: Free
Location:  Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina at Magic Fountain of Montjuic
Nearest metro station: Espanya L1
What is it? The Piromusical is the grand finale of the main Merce Festival and takes place at the Magic Fountain at the foot of Montjuic hill near Plaza Espanya with the Palau Nacional in the background. The Merce Piromusical is a fantastic music, water, fireworks and laser light display centred around the Magic Fountain at Montjuic hill with music and light themes change from year to year. Spectators fill the entire length of the Maria Cristina avenue starting at the twin Venetian towers, so we recommend that you get there around 21.00 / 9pm to get a good standing place. There is no seating. This is a charming and fun event for all ages and truly a treasured tradition and highlight of the Merce festival. You can see this event live on Catalan TV channel TV3.

Mercè 2015 - Light projections show city hall 
Activity: Mercè 2015: light mapping projection show on facade of city hall
Dates Friday 18th September 2015 to Thursday 24th September 2015
Time: from 20.45 to 22:45 - sessions start every half hour
LocationPlaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic quarter
Nearest metro station: Jaume I - Yellow line L4
What is it? Projection light show on facade of Barcelona city hall. Projeccions a la façana de l’Ajuntament. This is a light projection show every evening during the Merce festival which uses the facade of the Barcelona's city hall as a giant screen. Light show times vary according to other events at Pl Sant Jaume. 

Merce Catalan Wine & Cava Festival
Activity: Mercè Wine and Cava Festival 2015
Dates: Saturday 19th September to Thursday 24th September 2015
from 12:00 a 20:00 
Admission: Tickets on sale for tasting. (ticket sales for tasting closes at 21.15)
Location: Passeig de Lluís Companys near Arc de Triomf
Nearest metro station: Arc de Triomf
What is it? "Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya." Wine festival featuring wine and cava from the Catalan vineyards during Merce festival. The 34th edition of this popular wine tasting festival in Barcelona is at the Arc de Triomf monument on Passeig de Lluis Company.  Over 73 wineries present wines from 12 Catalan denominations of origin including DO Alella, Catalonia, Cava, Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre, Empordà Montsant Penedès Pla de Bages, Priorat, Tarragona and Terra Alta regions. On Sunday 20th September 2015 this festival includes the "Trobada d'Intercanvi de Plaques de Cava Diada 2015" from 10am to 2pm where collectors of Cava bottle top wrappers - called a "Chapa de Cava" meet to buy and sell cava chapas.

Merce Book Fair
- Passeig de Gracia
Activity: 64a Fira del Llibre d’Ocasió Antic i Modern
Dates Friday 18th September to 4th October 2015
Time: Monday to Saturday 10.00 to 21.00 and Sunday 11.00 to 21.00
Admission: Free
Location: On "Passeig de Gracia" from Plaza Catalunya up to street of Arago.
Nearest metro station: Passeig de Gracia
What is it? Annual outdoor book fair which also is part of Merce Festival. The "63a Fira del Llibre d’Ocasió Antic i Modern" (Catalan) or "La 63 Feria del Libro de Ocasión Antiguo y Moderno" (Spanish) is an outdoor book market selling new and old Spanish and Catalan books, and a some foreign books too, on "Passeig de Gràcia" street. The outdoor book market starts at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the crossing of the street "Carrer de Arago." 
Organised by El Gremi de Llibreters de Vell de Catalunya

Merce Asia Festival Barcelona
Dates: Friday 18th September to Thursday 24th September 2015
Where: Various locations in Barcelona
What is it? 14th edition of the
Festival Asia Barcelona.  The Festival Asia is a permanent part of the Merce Festival and aims to showcase the cultural richness and diversity of Asia with a range of high quality productions from abroad and the presence of the Asian communities in Catalonia. Visit the Festival Asia website or Casa Asia Twitter for more information.

Merce Museums Open Day
Activity: Museums Open Day - Free entrance to many city museums
Date:   Thursday 24th September 2015 and some other days
Where: Many top museums in Barcelona
Jornada de Portes Obertes Merce 2015. Many museums and Barcelona landmarks take part in the Merce festival by opening their doors to the public for free on certain days of the Merce festival. This is called "Jornada de Portes Obertes" - day of open doors. Find all free museums participating in open day at Merce 2015. Several theatres in Barcelona also offer half price tickets during the Merce festival.

Merce - Parc de la Ciutadella
There are many activities for children during Merce Festival at the Parc de la Ciutadella including the MAC street art festival. See all events at Parc de la Ciutadella during Merce 15


La Merce Festival organisers:
Institut de Cultura de Barcelona - Oficina de premsa

Address: La Rambla, 99 08002 Barcelona
Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: +34 933161069

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