La Mercè Festival Barcelona - Top Events at Mercè Festival 2018

Merce Festival Barcelona 2015

La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2018

Top Events at Mercè Festival

Guide in English what to see and do at Mercè Festival 2018

La Mercè 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. The guest city for 2018 Mercè festival is Lisbon.

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. 

Scroll down this page for Merce highlights.

Merce poster 2018

Mercè 2018 poster by Sònia Pulido

Mercè 2018 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 PDF Merce 2018
PDF main events Mercè 2018
BAM concert calendar 2018
Pictures Mercè Festival
Map locations Mercè events 
Twitter search #Mercè18 


Mercè Festival Apps


Mercè Festival Iphone App
Mercè festival Android App


Mercè transport & metro strike

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 who at the time was in Barcelona and already involved in the ransoming of Christians, who had been taken prisoner by Moorish pirates during the wars of the crusades and the ongoing conflict between the Christian kingdoms of Spain and the Muslim kingdoms of North Africa and southern Spain.

The Virgin asked him to form a sacred order of monks in her name. He did as she asked and formed the Order of Mercèd, which was dedicated to ransoming Christians captives. Pere Nolasc had 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 help came in the form of his Marian experience in the year 1218.

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 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 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 2018


Les Festes de la Mercè 2018 will have several hundred large and small events which showcase popular Catalan and Mediterranean cultural activities. You can see the most popular events below. The Mercè 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.

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 on 16/9 take place before or after the main festival. 


Mercè concerts & music festivals 


La Merce Festival Barcelona


Mercè BAM music festival

BAM dates Friday 21st to Monday 24th September 2018. The Mercè 2018 BAM music festival (Barcelona Acción Musica) is the 26th edition. BAM is an annual indie music festival which takes place as part of the Mercè Festival in Barcelona.

All BAM concerts are outdoor and free. One of the highlights are BAM concerts at the Antiga fàbrica d'Estrella Damm in Eixample area of Barcelona on Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th September 2018. See BAM18 programme and BAM concert venues below:

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
Sala Apolo - night club in Poble Sec area - Map link
Rambla de Raval - in Raval area - Map link



Mercè Parades & Traditional events


La Merce Festival Barcelona giants



Date: Friday 21st September 2018
Activity: Opening ceremony procession 'Seguici Inaugural' / 'Toc d’Inici'
Time: 6.45pm - 18:45 
Where: Starts at Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla 99 and finishes at Plaça de Sant Jaume the Gothic area of Barcelona
What is it? Seguici Inaugural and Toc d’Inici (starting touch). Parade from Las Ramblas #99 to Plaça de Sant Jaume. This is opening procession of La Mercè 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'.


Date: Friday 21st September 2018
Activity:  Passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc - Parade Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beasts 
Time: 10pm - 22:00
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 finish back at Plaça de Sant Jaume
What is it? Parade of fire-breathing dragons and beasts 


Date: Sunday 23rd September 2018
Activity: Parade 'Xambanga de Gegants'- Giants’ Xambanga
Time: 9pm - 21:00
Where: Parade start at Plaça dels Àngels in Raval area. Finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Route: Plaça dels Àngels, Portal de Santa Madrona, 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  giants dance to traditional drums and pipes and even to pop music. This event is especially fun as giants and their groups dress up in their own fancy dress and different costumes.


Date: Monday 24th September 2018
Activity: La Mercè 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? 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 named 'Jaume I' and 'Violant d´Hongria'. This parade also features groups of street artists, dancers and many other traditional Catalan figures and traditions. Worth seeing. 



About Gegants & Capgrossos


Mercè Sardanes dancing


La Merce Festival Barcelona sardanes


Date: Friday 21st September 2018
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 Catalonia region of Spain. The 'cobla' is the band that plays for the sardana dancers.


Date: Sunday 23rd September 2018
Activity: 68è 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. Lovely 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 22nd September 2018
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 22nd September 2018
Activity: Firerun - Correfoc de la Mercè -Porta de l´Infern
Time: 20:30 - 8.30 pm
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 Mercè 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' 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 23rd September 2018
Activity: Diada castellera històrica de la Mercè - Parade and human towers display
What is it? Parade and human towers display. Parade route starts Palau de la Virreina then down streets La Rambla, Boqueria, Avinyó, Ferran, to end at Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic quarter.
Time: 11:30 to 12:00
Where: Parade from Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla 99 to Plaça de Sant Jaume
Time: 12:00 Human towers display 
Where: Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic area
Nearest Metro station: Jaume I on yellow line L4


Date: Monday 24th September 2018
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 local 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: Sunday 23rd September 2018
Activity: Matí de falcons - Falcons human towers display and parade
Time: 10.30
Where: Starts Pl Nova by Av. de la Catedralt, hen Bisbe street to finish at Plaça de Sant Jaume
Nearest Metro station:  Jaume I station on yellow line L4
What is it? Falcons human towers display and parade by Falcons of Barcelona and Falcons of Vilanova d'Espoia. Matí de falcons i cercavila. 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 MAC Festival

Mercè Arts de Carrer (Mercè Street Arts; MAC) Festival
Activity: Street arts festival
Dates: during Merce Festival
Where: Various venues in Barcelona


Mercè sports events

There are many sports events during La Mercè festival including the popular annual 10k run Cursa de la Mercè on Sunday 16th September 2018. The Mercè festival usually also hosts a beach rugby tournament and a beach vollyball tournament.


Mercè pirotècnic fireworks

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

Dates: Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd September 2018
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? 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

Music, fireworks, light and water display at Magic Fountain

Date: Monday 24th September 2018
Activity: Music, fireworks, light and water display
Time: 10pm - 22:00
Admission: Free
Location: Avinguda 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 projeccions façana de l’Ajuntament

Light projections show on city hall


Dates: 21st to 24th September 2018
Activity: light mapping projection show on facade of city hall
Time: see times below
Location: Plaça de Sant Jaume in Gothic quarter
Nearest metro station: Jaume I - Yellow line L4
What is it? 'Ode from the sky' 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 Mercè festival using the facade of the Barcelona's city hall as a giant screen. Light show times can vary according to other events at Pl Sant Jaume.

Every 15 minutes during these times:

Friday 9:15 pm to 11:45pm 
Saturday 8:30 pm to 11:45pm 
Sunday 10:30 pm to 23:45pm 
Monday 8:45 pm to 10:00pm


Mercè Catalan Wine & Cava Festival

The Barcelona Wine Festival 'Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya' wine festival featuring wine and cava from the Catalan vineyards during Mercè festival will once again be part of the Mercè festival in 2018


Mercè Book Fair - Passeig de Gracia

Dates: Friday 21st Sep to 7th Oct 2018
Activity: 67a 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 Mercè 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 Mercè festival
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. Find all free museums participating in open day at Mercè 2018 . Several theatres in Barcelona also offer half price tickets during the Mercè festival.



Mercè - Parc de la Ciutadella

There are many activities for children during Mercè Festival at the Parc de la Ciutadella including the MAC street art festival.


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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 Thursday, 20 September 2018 22:13