Barcelona is celebrating its patron saint in style this month, with six days packed with culture and tradition. Over two million people took part in last year’s festivities and 2014 is set to be just as busy with more than 600 free events happening around the city. Stockholm is this year’s invited city, so keep an eye out for hot new Swedish talent.
Tradition: The festivities kick off with giants and dragons in Pl. Sant Jaume, and for the following five days the city is filled with fire-breathing dragons, cap grossos (big heads), esbarts (traditional dance groups), bastoners (stick dancers), trabucaires (ancient armed bandits) and giants. You’ll come across all these colourful characters and more in parades and events throughout the city. There will also be plenty of castellers, sardanes and, of course, the correfoc on Sunday 21st. Don’t forget to cover up to protect yourself from flying sparks. Firework displays take place on the 22nd and 23rd.
Music: Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM) is a four-day festival that celebrates the best local, national and international indie music and takes place each year during the Mercè festivities. BAM will be holding 60 free concerts in 10 outdoor venues between September 19th and 23rd. www.bcn.cat/bam. Running alongside BAM is a series of concerts that range from folk and electropop to punk and everything in between, and include new local talent and some big international names. The concerts take place on public stages around the city with Pl. Catalunya and Av. de la Catedral reserved for the biggest crowd pullers.
Performance: The MAC Street Arts Festival showcases the year’s most outstanding shows, and premieres new productions that are starting their season. The festival has two main venues: the Parc de la Ciutadella will host shows devoted to dance, performance and new technologies, and Montjuïc Castle will feature top national and international circus acts.
Free museums: On September 24th the city’s museums and galleries offer free admission.
Open days: Many of the city’s institutions open their doors to the public for La Mercè, including the Ajuntament and the Palau de la Generalitat.
Associations Fair: On September 20th, 21st and 24th, there is a huge fair dedicated to Barcelona’s NGOs. The stalls fill Pl. Catalunya and Pg. de Gràcia, alongside games to keep the kids happy while you’re browsing. www.mostrabcn.cat
La Cursa de la Mercè: One of the city’s most popular 10ks, 17,000 people will put their running shoes on for the Cursa de la Mercè. It takes place on September 28th after the festivities have ended.
Find the complete programme at www.merce.bcn.cat/en