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La Mercè - Top Events Merce Festival Barcelona 2016 E-mail
Written by festivals   

Merce Festival Barcelona 2015

La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2016

La Mercè 2016 - Top Events Merce Festival Barcelona. English guide to highlights of Barcelona's biggest festival. Mercè is also called Les Festes de la Mercè - Fiestas de la Mercè 2016.

Mercè Guide, Mercè programme, maps and Top Events Mercè 2016.Merce Festival Barcelona is Barcelona's biggest festival of the year.

The Barcelona Mercè festival 2016 dates are
Thursday 22nd September to Sunday 25th September 2016. This Mercè Festival 2016 guide in English lists the best things to do and what to see during Barcelona's biggest annual festival.

The Mercè 2016 public holiday is on 24th September 2016. 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.

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

PDF SUMMARY main events Mercè 2016
PDF FULL calendar Mercè Festival 2016
BAM festival concert calendar 2016

Pictures Mercè Festival
Map locations Mercè events
Twitter search #mercè16

Merce Festival Apps

Mercè Festival Iphone App
Mercè festival Android App

Map Mercè Festival locations


Origins of Mercè Festival 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.

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 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 Aragon Crown 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 until1868 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 squarePlaça 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 an military building today. 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 of Les Festes de la Mercè 2016

Les Festes de la Mercè 2016 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 2016 the Merce public holiday is on Saturday 24th 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 2016 Merce festival poster is by Miguel Gallardo. See previous Merce festival posters.

Merce festival metro / bus timetables

Mercè Concerts and music festivals 

La Merce Festival Barcelona

Merce concerts 2016 include artists like Manu Chao and Dubioza Kolektiv who both perform at the Parc Forum on Saturday 24th September. Within 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 2016 BAM concerts

PLAÇA DELS ÀNGELS - Raval area MACBA museum Map link
JOAN COROMINES - Raval area in CCCB cultural centre 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 24th September and Sunday 25th September 2016.Among other big concerts at Merce festival (but not part of BAM) are the concerts at the Parc del Forum on Saturday 25th September starring Manu Chao and Dubioza Kolektiv.  Near Plaza Espanya on Avenida Reina Cristina there are concerts by radio station Cadena 100 on Friday 23rd September and by radio station Europa FM on Saturday 25th September. See all concertsat 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: Thursday 22nd September 2016
Activity: Opening
ceremony procession "Seguici Inaugural" and "Toc d’Inici"
Time: 7pm - 19:00 
Where:Starts atPalau de la Virreina on La Rambla 99 at 7pm and finishes atPlaça 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 featuring medieval mythical figures of bestiari de Barcelona and also giants and bigheads calledgegants i capgrossos in Catalan language. The parade ends onPlaça de Sant Jaume with dances and music from folk minstrels "Ministrers del Camí Ral" who meet just once a year especially for this event.

Date: Saturday 24th September 2016 
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 Ferran, la Rambla, Santa Anna, Portal de l’Àngel, Arcs, pl. Nova, Bisbe and ends at Plaça Sant Jaume
What is it? Parade of fire-breathing dragons and beasts 

: Friday 23rd September 2016

Activity: Parade"Xambanga de Gegants"- Giants’ Xambanga
Time: 9pm - 21:00
Where: Parade start near Maritime museum.Finish atPlaça de Sant Jaume
What is it? The "Xambanga de Gegants" is a "dancing" giants parade. The giants are from many districts and neighbourhoods of Barcelona. 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 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 quarter.

Date: Saturday 24th September 2016
Activity: La Mercé Parade "Cavalcada Mercè" - also called "La Gran Cavalcada de la Mercè"
Time: from 5.30pm to 8pm / 17:30 to 20:00
Start: Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya
Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
Map: Map parade route 
Nearest Metro station: Barceloneta metro station yellow L4 
What is it? Merce's BIGGEST parade called Cavalcada Mercè and often also called "la Gran 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. The procession starts at 18.00 from the Pelai street near Plaza Catalunya, then goes down La Rambla street, 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

Date: Thursday 22nd September 2016
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 25th September 2016
Activity: 66è 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? 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

Date: Sunday 25th September 2016
: 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

Plaça d'Antonio López, Via Laietana street and ends atPlaça 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. There are correfoc activities and workshops all day in front of the Santa Catarina market.

Date: Sunday 25th September 2016
: 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.  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

Date: Saturday 24th September 2016
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 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.

Date: Sunday 25th September 2016
Activity: Matí de falcons -Falcons human towers display and parade
Time: 10.30
Where: Starts Pl Nova by Av. de la Catedralthen Bisbe street to finish atPlaça 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. A young group called the Barcelona Falcons has revived this style of making falcon structures and they performed first at the Saint Eulalia festivities in 2003. Very festive to watch. 

Date: Sunday 25th September 2016
Activity: Festa Castellera - human towers display
"Diada castellera dels convidats"

Time:at 12:00
Where:Plaça de Sant Jaume
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I on Yellow line L4
What is it?
 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 nine or even ten levels in height. Read about castellers traditions

Merce Circ al Castell - Circus Festival
Circus Festival at Montjuic Castle
Dates: Every day during Merce festival
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 Sunday 25th September and the popular annual 10k run Cursa de la Merce on Sunday 18th September 2016. The Merce festival also hosts a beach rugby tournament and a beach vollyball tournament

Festival Pirotècnic fireworks display

 Friday 23rd September and Saturday 24th September 2016 
Mercè 2016 XIX 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

: Sunday 25th September 2016 
: Mercè 2016: 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 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. 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 

: Thursday 22nd September to Sunday 25th September 2016
Mercè 2016: 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. 

Merce Catalan Wine & Cava Festival

Dates: Thursday 22nd September to Sunday 25th September 2016
Activity: Mercè Wine and Cava Festival 2016

Time: 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 by 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 36th edition of this popular wine tasting festival in Barcelona is at the Arc de Triomf monument on Passeig de Lluis Company.  On Sunday 25th September 2016 this festival includes the "Trobada d'Intercanvi de Plaques de Cava Diada 2016" from 10am to 2pm where collectors of Cava bottle top wrappers - called a "Chapa de Cava" meet to buy and sell cava chapas. More information here

Merce Book Fair
- Passeig de Gracia

: Friday 16th September to 2nd October 2016
Activity: 64a 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: OnPasseig 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 "65a Fira del Llibre d’Ocasió Antic i Modern" (Catalan) or "La 65 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 Museums Open Day

: Saturday 24th September 2016 and some other days 
Activity: Museums Open Day
- Free entrance to many city museums
Where: Many top museums in Barcelona
Jornada de Portes Obertes Merce 2016. 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 2016. 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. 


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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