Heralding the end of summer, the Mare de Deu de la Merce, the Patron Saint of Barcelona, festival is Barcelona’s major cultural event.
Held over five days in September each year, concerts, exhibitions, displays and parades mean that there is sometimes too much to do if you are in Barcelona as a normal tourist, which takes you to see the Gaudi buildings and the Barcelona Markets.
In 2011, we were in coincidentally there (fortunately booking our accommodation very early on in our trip planning) for four of those days of Merce, and I can confirm that the celebrations are extensive and run through the course of each day, well past midnight.
My favourite event was the Parade of Giants. We first came across the giant statues around the corner from our accommodation in the Ciutat Vella. At that stage, we didn’t really understand what Merce was about, but managed to inspect the statues in detail where they were being stored prior to the parade.
On the last day of Merce, there was a huge parade that started from the building where the gians were house. There were people bearing banners and playing lots of drums and other percussion instruments. The Giants depict kings and queens and other important figures from Catalan history. They are mounted on platforms that are steered through the streets, with the drumming calling attention to their presence (it didn’t take much!).
The noise just from the parade was overwhelming, and in fact, the whole week was a highlight of that trip. But if you want to go, book your accommodation early. And take some ear plugs.
This is a more traditional parade story, as part of the A Word a Week Challenge, http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/a-word-a-week-photography-challenge/
Further information: http://barcelona.de/en/barcelona-la-merce.html