La Mercè Festival Barcelona - Top Events at Mercè Festival 2018

Merce Festival Barcelona 2015

La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2018

La Mercè Festival Barcelona - Top Events at Mercè Festival
Guide in English what to see and do at Merce Festival 2018

La Merce is Barcelona's biggest annual festival and often called the Festival of festivals. The Barcelona Mercè festival 2018 dates are Friday 21st to Monday 24th September 2018. Mercè is called Les Festes de la Mercè in the Catalan language and in the Spanish language Fiestas de la Mercè. The guest city for 2018 Merce festival is Lisbon. Bem-vindo!

Mercè Guide, Mercè programme, maps and Top Events Mercè 2018.
The Merce Festival is Barcelona's biggest festival of the year. The Mercè public holiday is on 24th September. Barcelona's metro trains will be open all night during the Mercè festival. La Mercè is La festa major de Barcelona and is the biggest city festival of the year in Barcelona.

Merce festival poster 2017 by famous and very talented Valencian artist Javier Mariscal, who designed the Cobi mascot for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games. The star of the 2017 Merce poster is a typical and happy Barcelona neighborhood girl holding a smart phone surrounded by sustainability symbols. See if  you can spot Cobi who also appears in tribute to the 25 year anniversary of the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona.


Scroll down this page to find top things to do at Barcelona Mercè Festival including concerts, fireruns, fireworks, human towers and much more.

PDF Programme/Calendar English Mercè 2017
PDF overview main events Merce 2017
BAM festival concert calendar 2017
Pictures Mercè Festival
Map locations Mercè events
Twitter search #mercè17

Mercè Festival Apps

Mercè Festival Iphone App
Mercè festival Android App

Map Mercè Festival locations


Origins of Mercè name

Barcelona's biggest annual festival is the Mercè 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.

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 Nolaschad actually already been ransoming captured Christians since 1202 some 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. TheOrder of Mercywas established on August 10th 1218 with the help of Nolasc's confessor at Barcelona cathedral, Saint Ramón de Penyafort, and with support from King Jaume 1 of Aragon who was also Count of Barcelona. The details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy can be seen to this day in the Crown of Aragon Archives in Barcelona.
Centuries later in 1687 the Virgin of La Mercè came to the aid of Barcelona by making a plague of locusts disappear. After the locust plague the city council elected La Mercè as co-patron saint of Barcelona although she was not officially canonised as a patron saint of Barcelona until 1868 by Pope Pius IX. Barcelona has celebrated La Mercè festival every year since 1687 and never been plagued by locusts since then.

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

Basilica La Mercè

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

Highlights Les Festes de la Mercè 2017

Les Festes de la Mercè 2017 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 but  in 2017 the Merce public holiday moves from Sunday 24th to Monday 25th September. 

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 2017 Merce festival poster is by Javier Mariscal. See previous Merce festival posters.
Merce festival metro / bus timetables

Mercè concerts & music festivals 

La Merce Festival Barcelona

Mercè concerts. There are many free concerts in Barcelona during the Mercè festival including concerts at Bogatell beach. A large part of the Merce music events is a music festival called BAM music festival (Barcelona Acción Musica) which is an annual indie music festival that takes place 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 international and local artists at four open air venues in Barcelona. Visit the BAM website to see full festival programme.

Venues BAM 2017 concerts

Plaça dels Àngels - Raval area MACBA museum Map link
Plaça de Joan Coromines - Raval area in CCCB cultural centre Map link
Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm - Eixample area Map link
Moll de la Fusta - harbour area  Map link

One of the highlights of BAM music festival are concerts at the Antiga fàbrica d'Estrella Damm in Eixample area of Barcelona on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September 2017. Near Plaza Espanya on Avenida Reina Cristina there are concerts hosted by radio stations on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd September. See all concerts at Avenida Reina Cristina near Plaza Espanya. Visit the BAM website for full programme of BAM festival concerts and artist line-up.

Mercè Parades and traditional Catalan events

La Merce Festival Barcelona giants

Date: Friday 22nd September 2017
Activity: Opening ceremony procession 'Seguici Inaugural' and 'Toc d’Inici'
Time: 7.45pm - 19:45 
Where: Starts at Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla 99 at 7pm and finishes at Plaça de Sant Jaume the Gothic area of Barcelona
What is it? Seguici Inaugural and Toc d’Inici (starting touch). This is the opening procession of La Merce festival featuring medieval mythical figures of bestiari de Barcelona and also giants and bigheads called gegants i capgrossos in Catalan language. The parade ends on Plaça de Sant Jaume with dances and music from folk minstrels 'Ministrers del Camí Ral' who gather only once a year for this event.

Date: Friday 22nd September 2017 
Activity:  Passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc - Parade Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beasts 
Time: 9.30pm - 21:30 
Where: Starts at Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area of Barcelona, then along streets Carrer de Ferran, La Rambla, Carrer de la Canuda, Portal de L’Àngel, Carrer dels Arcs, Plaça Nova, Carrer del Bisbe to end at Plaça de Sant Jaume
What is it? Parade of fire-breathing dragons and beasts 

Date: Saturday 23rd September 2017
Activity: Parade 'Xambanga de Gegants'- Giants’ Xambanga
Time: 6pm - 18:00
Where: Parade start Plaça dels Àngels in Raval area. Finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Route: Plaça dels Àngels, Carrer dels Àngels, Carrer d’Elisabets, Carrer de Bonsuccés, La Rambla & Carrer de Ferran to finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
What is it? The Xambanga de Gegants is a 'dancing' giants parade. The giants are from many Barcelona districts and neighbourhoods. Both the groups and the giants dance to traditional drums and pipes and sometimes even to modern dance music. This event is especially fun because the giants and giants groups are dressed up in fancy dress and costumes. 

Date: Sunday 24th September 2017
Activity: La Mercé Parade 'Cavalcada de la Mercè' - also called 'La Gran Cavalcada de la Mercè'
Time: from 6pm to 8pm / 18:00 to 20:00
Start: Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya
Finish: Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
Map: Map parade route The procession starts from Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya, then down La Rambla street, turns at Ferran street to finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Nearest Metro station: Barceloneta metro station yellow L4 
What is it? Merce's BIGGEST parade called 'Cavalcada de la Mercè'. This procession features many of the city 'gegants' - giants  and is led by the Barcelona giants named 'Jaume I' and 'Violant d´Hongria'. This parade also stars groups of street artists, dancers and many other traditional Catalan figures and traditions. 

Map Cavalcada Mercè parade route
About Gegants & Capgrossos traditions

Mercè Sardanes dancing

La Merce Festival Barcelona sardanes

Date: Friday 22nd September 2017
Activity: Sardanes inaugurals 
Time:  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.

Date: Sunday 24th September 2017
Activity: 67è Concurs de Colles Sardanistes – Sardanes dancing competition
Time: 11:00
Where: Av. de la Cathedral in front of Barcelona Cathedral
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? Annual sardanes dance competition in front of Barcelona Cathedral. Llovely event to watch with many sardanas groups competing.

About Sardanes dancing
Pictures Sardanes dancing

Mercè Correfocs - Fire runs

La Merce Festival Barcelona Correfoc firerun

Date: Saturday 23rd September 2017
Activity: Firerun - Cercavila de foc dels diables petits - Correfoc infantil - Children's Correfoc
Time: 6.30pm - 18:30
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
Where: starts at Plaça d'Antonio López, then down Via Laietana street and ends at 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 less noisy and scary for kids. 

Date: Saturday 23rd September 2017
Activity: Firerun - Correfoc de la Mercè -Porta de l´Infern
Time: 20:00 - 8pm
Where: Starts at Plaça d'Antoni Maura then down Via Laietana street to end at Plaça d'Antonio López
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? The Correfoc de la Mercè 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. He commands his armies to cross the gates 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 Mercè 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 it is a good idea to take some basic correfoc safety precautions about practical clothes to wear for a correfoc. Ear plugs are a very good idea or put some tissue paper in your ears, because it's very noisy, especially when the Trabucaires who are Catalan 'bandits' fire their blunderbuss guns. About correfoc traditions in Catalonia

Mercè Castellers - Human Tower building

La Merce Festival Barcelona Human Towers

Date:  Saturday 23rd September 2017
Activity: Diada castellera històrica de la Mercè - Parade and human towers display
Time: 12:00
Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I on Yellow line L4
What is it? Historic Mercè castell human tower display at Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic quarter.

Date: Sunday 24th September 2017
Activity: Castellers display - Human castles 'Diada castellera amb les colles locals'
Time: 12:30
Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Gothic quarter
Nearest metro station: Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What it is? 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: Castellers de Barcelona, Castellers de la Sagrada Família, Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia, Castellers de Sants and Castellers del Poble-Sec.

Date: Monday 25th September 2017
Activity: Matí de falcons - Falcons human towers display and parade
Time: 11.30
Where: Starts Pl Nova by Av. de la Catedralthen Bisbe street to finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Nearest Metro station:  Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? Matí de falcons i cercavila - Falcons human towers display and parade. Falcon human Tower building display by Colla Falcons de Barcelona. This is another kind of human tower building called the 'Falcon' discipline named after a Czech tradition called Sökol, which means falcon in Czech. Falcon structures were popular in Catalonia at the beginning of the 20th century, but then this kind of structure fell out of favour. In Barcelona a young group called the Barcelona Falcons revived this tradition of falcon human towers and performed first at the Saint Eulalia festivities in 2003. 

Mercè Circ al Castell - Circus Festival

Activity: Circus Festival at Montjuic Castle
Dates: 23rd, 24th and 25th September 2017
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.

Mercè Sports events

There are many sports events during La Merce festival including the popular annual 10k run Cursa de la Merce on Sunday 16th September 2017. The Merce festival also hosts a beach rugby tournament and a beach vollyball tournament.

Mercè Pirotècnic fireworks

Dates: Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September 2017
Activity: Mercè 2017 XX Festival Pirotècnic Internacional
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? 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

Piromusical de la Mercè

Fireworks at Magic Fountain

Date: Monday 25th September 2017
Activity: Mercè 2017: Piromusical - Music, fireworks and Magic Fountain light and water display
Time: 10pm - 22:00
Admission: Free
Location: Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina by Magic Fountain 
Nearest metro station: Espanya L1
What is it? The Piromusical de la Mercè is the grand finale of the 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. In 2016 the music will include a homage to David Bowie and Prince. 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 projeccions Colorama

Light projections show on city hall - Projeccions a la façana de l’Ajuntament

Dates: 22nd to 25th September 2017
Activity: light mapping projection show on facade of city hall
Time:  from 21.15 to 23.45 - show starts every half hour
Location: Plaça 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: Colorama. This is a light projection show every evening during the Merce festival using the facade of the Barcelona's city hall as a giant screen. Light show times vary according to other events at Pl Sant Jaume. (There is also a light projection show on the fountain in the park l'a Cascada del parque de la Ciudadela' in the Ciutadella Park.)

Mercè Catalan Wine & Cava Festival

The annual 'Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya' Wine festival featuring wine and cava from the Catalan vineyards during Merce festival will not be part of the Merce festival in 2017 and will take place in October instead

Mercè Book Fair - Passeig de Gracia

Dates: Friday 22nd September to 8th October 2017
Activity: 66a Fira del llibre d'ocasió Antic i Modern
Time: Monday to Saturday 10.00 to 21.00 and Sunday 11.00 to 21.00
Admission: Free
Location: On Passeig de Gracia street from Pl 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 'Fira del llibre d'ocasió Antic i Modern' (Catalan) or '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.

Mercè Museums Open Day

Date: certains days during Merce festival
Activity: Museums Open Day - Free entrance to many city museums
Where: Many top museums in Barcelona
What is it? Jornada de Portes Obertes Merce. 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 2018 . Several theatres in Barcelona also offer half price tickets during the Merce festival.

Mercè - 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 and a fabulous light projection show on the fountain in the park l'a Cascada del parque de la Ciudadela.'


La Mercè 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

© Copyright
Do not copy text or images on this page without permission.  
All rights reserved.


This page sponsored by
Stepbac® from Smoking
- a new method to quit smoking

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 July 2018 12:30