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La Mercè Festival Barcelona - Top Events at Mercè Festival 2023

Merce Festival Barcelona 2021

La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2023

Top Events at Mercè Festival

Dates La Mercè festival 2023 are 22nd to 25th September 2023.

Visit the official Mercè festival page for more information about Mercè 2023.

PDF programme 

Barcelona once again gears up in 2023 for its annual city festival, a celebration of traditions, street arts, circus, dance, music and film. La Mercè festival 2023 presents over 500 activities and over 1,000 artists in many areas of the city.

La Mercè events will take place in Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Sants-Montjuic, Horta-Guinardó, Nou Barris, Sant Andreu and Sant Martí districts of the city.

La Mercè welcomes Kyiv as the 2023 guest city


Guide in English what to see and do at Mercè Festival 2023

La Mercè is Barcelona's biggest annual festival and often called the "Festival of festivals."

The Barcelona Mercè festival 2023 dates are 22nd to 25th September 2023

The Mercè festival usually includes a music festival, a wine festival, local Catalan traditions, parades, concerts, fireworks, a 10km run and many more events in Barcelona at many locations. 

Mercè is called Les Festes de la Mercè in the Catalan language and in the Spanish language it is called Fiestas de la Mercè.

It has been an official city holiday since 1871, when the city first organized a program of special activities to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè in Catalan. 

The La Mercè celebrations honor the Virgin of Grace (Mare de Déu de la Mercè) who is the patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona, and the co-patroness - with Saint Eulàlia - of Barcelona city.

In the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, you can visit the Mercè basilica dedicated to the Mercè Virgin, where a wooden image of La Mercè is venerated. 


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Scroll down this page for Merce highlights.

Mercè 2023 programme, maps and highlights

The Mercè Festival is Barcelona's biggest festival of the year and known as la festa major de Barcelona. All districts of the city take part in the celebrations.

The Mercè public holiday is on 24th September. Scroll down this page to find top things to do at Barcelona Mercè Festival including concerts, fireruns, fireworks, human towers and much more.

Full program 2023 Merce
BAM concert calendar 2023
Pictures Mercè Festival
Map locations Mercè events 
Hashtag #Mercè23
Metro/bus times Merce 23

Mercè Festival Apps

Mercè Festival Iphone App
Mercè festival Android App

Mercè transport & strikes

The Barcelona metro is open all night during the Mercè festival. FGC trains, Barcelona trams and Barcelona Bicing city bikes (residents only) are usually open 24 hours a day during Mercè or have extended hours during the Mercè festival. Some of the Mercè activities have special buses. See Mercè festival metro/bus timetables. 

Map Mercè festival locations

View FULLSCREEN Mercè map

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 Mercèdes', 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 Mercèd' (Spanish) which means Our Lady of Mercy - or La Mercè for short. 

The words 'Mercè' in Catalan and 'Mercèd' 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 St Pere Nolasc. At the time Nolasc was in Barcelona and involved in the ransoming of Christians, who had been captured by Moorish pirates during the wars of the crusades and during the ongoing conflict between the Christian kingdoms of Spain and the Muslim kingdoms of North Africa and southern Spain.

The Virgin Mary asked Nolasc to form a sacred order of monks in her name. Nolasc did as she asked and formed the Order of Mercèd, which was dedicated to ransoming Christians captives.

Pere Nolasc had already been ransoming Christians since 1202 some 15 years before the Virgin appeared to him, but he constantly prayed for help and divine intervention.

This help came in the form of his Marian experience in the year 1218 and 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 King Jaume 1 of Aragon. The details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy can be seen to this day in the Crown of Aragon archives in Barcelona. Pere Nolasc was canonized as a saint in 1628.

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 chose 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 more success fighting locusts than she did fighting 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 La Diada - which is 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 Mercè 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 Mercè 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 Mercè Virgin and Child from 1361 attributed to the artist Pere Moragues.

Highlights Les Festes de la Mercè 2023

Les Festes de la Mercè 2023 will have hundreds of events to showcase popular Catalan and Mediterranean cultural activities. You can see the most popular events below.

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

Mercè concerts & music festivals 

La Merce Festival Barcelona

Mercè BAM music festival

BAM dates 22nd to 25 September 2023. The Mercè 2023 BAM music festival (Barcelona Acción Musica) is an annual indie music festival which takes place as part of the Mercè Festival in Barcelona.

All BAM concerts are outdoor and free. See BAM23 programme and main BAM concert venues below:

Plaça Reial - Gothic area Map Link
Moll de la Fusta - Port Vell - Map Link
Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm - Eixample area Map link
Rambla de Raval - in Raval area - Map link

Mercè Parades & Traditional events

La Merce Festival Barcelona giants

Date: Friday 22 September 2023
Activity: Opening ceremony procession 'Seguici Inaugural' / 'Toc d’Inici'
Time: 7pm - 19:00
Where: Starts at Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla 99, down la Rambla, Ferran street and finishes Plaça de Sant Miquel
What is it? Seguici Inaugural and Toc d’Inici (starting touch). The Seguici Inaugural featuring medieval mythical figures of bestiari de Barcelona: the City Eagle, the Lion, the Mule, the Ox, the Wyvern, the Dragon, the Tarasca, the Pi Giants, the capgrossos Macers, the Cavallets Cotoners, the Santa Maria del Mar Giants, the Falcons de Barcelona and the stick dancers known as the Ball de Bastons del Seguici, accompanied by the Trabucaires d’en Perot Rocaguinarda, the city’s devils’ groups and the Ministrers del Camí Ral folk minstrels who provide the music for this festive procession.

This year’s Seguici Inaugural also features Olga and Volodymyr, the pair of giants gifted to Barcelona by the 2023 festival guest city of Kyiv.

These figures and the rest of the participants in the Seguici Inaugural will gather in the foyer of the Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla number 99 behind closed doors. At 7 pm exactly the doors of the building will open and the ceremony begins, with a parade of the different groups, the devils’ groups bringing up the rear. Fire, fun, colour and music to get the city’s big annual festival under way.

Date: Friday 22 September 2023
Activity:  Passejada de bèsties - Parade Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beasts 
Time: 10pm - 22:00
Where: Starts at Plaça Comercial,  Comerç, Princesa, Montcada, Sombrerers, Santa Maria del Mar, Santa Maria, Passeig del Born to finish at Pl. Comercial.
What is it? Parade of fire-breathing dragons and beasts 

Date: Friday 23 September 2022
Activity: Parade 'La Xambanga de Gegants'- Giants’ Xambanga
Time: 9 pm to 10pm - 21:00 to 22:00 
Where: Parade start at Plaça dels Àngels in Raval area. Finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Route: Plaça dels Àngels then streets Àngels, Pintor Fortuny, la Rambla, 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 giants dance to traditional drums and pipes and even to pop music. This event is especially fun because giants and groups dress up in fancy dress costumes.

Date: Sunday 24th September 2023
Activity: La Mercè Parade 'Cavalcada de la Mercè' - also called 'La Gran Cavalcada de la Mercè'
Time: 6pm to 8pm - 18:00 to 20:00
Start: Carrer de Pelai, 12 near Plaza Catalunya, then Pl. de Catalunya, la Rambla, Ferran to finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
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? Mercè's BIGGEST parade called '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'. This parade also features groups of street artists, dancers and other traditional Catalan figures and traditions. Worth seeing. 

About Gegants & Capgrossos

Mercè Sardanes dancing

La Merce Festival Barcelona sardanes

Date: Friday 22nd September 2023
Activity: Sardanes inaugurals 
Time:  7pm to 8.40pm 
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 Catalonia region of Spain. The 'cobla' is the band that accompanies for the sardana. Traditionally sardanistes wear special dancing shoes called espardenyes which are made of esparto grass fabric and have two long strips of fabric to tie them

Date: Sunday 24th September 2023
Activity: 73è 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. Lovely to watch with many dance groups competing.

About Sardanes dancing
Pictures Sardanes dancing

Mercè Correfocs - Fire runs

La Merce Festival Barcelona Correfoc firerun

Date: Saturday 23 September 2023
Activity: Firerun - Cercavila de foc dels diables petits - Correfoc infantil - Children's Correfoc
Time: 18:00 - 6 pm
Where: Pg. de Gràcia / Consell de Cent to Pg. de Gràcia / Mallorca - Provença
Nearest Metro station: Passeig de Gracia
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 23 September 2023
Activity: Firerun - Correfoc de la Mercè - Porta de l´Infern
Time: 20.00 - 8 pm
Where: Passeig de Gràcia/Provença until  junction Passeig de Gràcia/Consell de Cent
Nearest Metro station: Diagonal
What is it? The Correfoc de la Mercè is one of the most popular events of La Mercè anc can have 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 gates of hell open at around 7.45 with "Tabalada infernal" drum display. Around 8.25 there is a "Ceptrotada" dance for "Lucifer" from each group of diables and the correfoc firerun itself starts at 8.30

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' devils. He commands his armies to cross through the gates of hell called 'Porta de l´Infern' which separates the real world from hell.

At the end of the correfoc firerun the devils are sent back into hell. About 80.000 firecrackers are used during the Mercè 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.  

Mercè Castellers - Human Tower building

La Merce Festival Barcelona Human Towers

Date:  Sunday 24th September 2023
Activity: Diada castellera de la Mercè - human towers
What is it? Human towers display with invited towers groups - Diada castellera amb les colles locals
Time: 13:00 to 15:00
Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I on yellow line L4

Date: Sunday 25th September 2022
Activity: Diada castellera històrica de la Mercè - human towers
Time: 12:00
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 local human tower groups on Plaça de Sant Jaume, Barcelona at 12.00. Features Castellers de Barcelona, Castellers de la Sagrada Família, Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia, Castellers de Sants and Castellers del Poble-Sec.

Date: Saturday 23 September 2023
Activity: Matí de falcons - Falcons style human towers display
Time: 11:00 tower building on Pl de Sant Jaume.
Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume
Nearest Metro station:  Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? Falcons human towers display. Falcon style tower building on Pl de Sant Jaume. 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 language. 

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 sports events

There are many sports events during La Mercè including popular annual 10k run Cursa de la Mercè on Sunday 17 September 2023. 

Mercè pirotècnic fireworks festival

International Pyrotechnic Festival, part of 'The Mercè festival of light and fire'

Dates: Friday 22 September 2023
Activity: fireworks display on the beach
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? A spectacular firework display 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

Music, fireworks, light and water display at Magic Fountain

Date: Monday 25th September 2023
Activity: Music, fireworks, light and water display
Time: 10pm - 22:00
Admission: Free
Location: Av Reina Maria Cristina by Magic Fountain 
Nearest metro station: Espanya L1 on metro red line 1
What is it? The Piromusical de la Mercè is the grand finale of the Mercè Festival and is always at the Magic Fountain at the foot of Montjuic hill near Plaza Espanya with the Palau Nacional in the background. The Mercè 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. There is no seating and we recommend that you get there around 21.00 / 9pm to get a good standing place. This is a charming and fun event for all ages and truly a treasured tradition and highlight of the Mercè festival. You can see this event live on Catalan TV channel TV3.

Mercè Museums Open Day

Date: Friday 22 September 2023
Activity: Museums Open Day - Free entrance to many city museums
Where: Many top museums in Barcelona
What is it? Jornada de Portes Obertes Mercè. Many museums and Barcelona landmarks take part in the Mercè festival by opening their doors to the public for free on certain days of the Mercè festival. This is called 'Jornada de Portes Obertes' - day of open doors. Some theatres in Barcelona offer half price tickets during Mercè festival.

Mercè - Parc de la Ciutadella

There are many activities for children during Mercè Festival at the Parc de la Ciutadella

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


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Last Updated on Saturday, 23 September 2023 15:52