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La Mercè Festival Barcelona - Top Events at Mercè Festival 2021

Merce Festival Barcelona 2021

La Mercè Festival Barcelona 2021

Top Events at Mercè Festival

Dates La Mercè festival 2021 are 23rd to 26th September 2021. Kindly note that due to reduced numbers of tourists in 2021, Barcelonayellow will not fully update our Mercè guide until September 2022

Visit the official Mercè festival page for more information about Mercè 2021.

Download PDF Merce Festival programme

Barcelona once again gears up in 2021 for its annual city festival, a celebration of traditions, street arts, circus, dance, music and film. La Mercè festival 2021 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 Havana as the 2021 guest city

Due to Covid restrictions tickets must be reserved in advance for most Mercè 2021 events, but this year's festival hopes revive much loved traditions at the many events.

The music scheduled for the Música Mercè festivities and Festival BAM, along with the music included in the Cultura Viva programme, will be the highlight of a celebration that has had to adapt to current circumstances and that, having been transformed by the effects of the pandemic.


Guide in English what to see and do at Mercè Festival (not updated for 2021)

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

The Barcelona Mercè festival 2021 dates are 23rd to 26th September 2021. 

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 2019 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 2019
PDF main events Mercè 2019
BAM concert calendar 2019
Pictures Mercè Festival
Map locations Mercè events 
Hashtag #Mercè19

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 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 2019

Les Festes de la Mercè 2019 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 20 to 3 September 2019. The Mercè 2019 BAM music festival (Barcelona Acción Musica) is the 27th 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 . See BAM19 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
Moll de la Fusta - Port Vell area Map Link

Mercè Parades & Traditional events

La Merce Festival Barcelona giants

Date: Friday 20 September 2019
Activity: Opening ceremony procession 'Seguici Inaugural' / 'Toc d’Inici'
Time: 7 pm - 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). Opening procession of La Mercè festival featuring medieval mythical figures of bestiari de Barcelona and also giants and big heads called gegants i capgrossos in Catalan language. The parade ends with dances and music from folk minstrels 'Ministrers del Camí Ral'.

Date: Friday 20 September 2019
Activity:  Passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc - Parade Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beasts 
Time: 10pm - 22:00
Where: starts at Plaça Comercial then streets Comerç, Princesa, Montcada, Sombrerers, pl. Santa Maria, Santa Maria, pg. Born, pl. Comercial Bisbe to finish back at Plaça Comercial
What is it? Parade of fire-breathing dragons and beasts 

Date: Monday 23 September 2019
Activity: Parade 'Xambanga de Gegants'- Giants’ Xambanga
Time: 8.45 pm to 10pm - 20:45 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 Bonsuccés, La Rambla and 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: Tuesday 24th September 2019
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 other traditional Catalan figures and traditions. Worth seeing. 

About Gegants & Capgrossos

Mercè Sardanes dancing

La Merce Festival Barcelona sardanes

Date: Friday 20 September 2019
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 22 September 2019
Activity: 69è 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 metro yellow line L4
What is it? Annual sardanes dance competition in front of Barcelona Cathedral. 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 21 September 2019
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 on Via Laietana street to end 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 21 September 2019
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 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 7.45 with "Tabalada infernal" drum display. At 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 22nd September 2019
Activity: Diada castellera històrica de la Mercè - human towers
What is it? Parade and human towers display with invited towers groups Minyons de Terrassa and Castellers de Vilafranca. 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: Tuesday 24th September 2019
Activity: Diada castellera amb les colles locals - human towers
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 local human tower groups on Plaça de Sant Jaume, Barcelona at 12.30. 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 22 September 2019
Activity: Matí de falcons - Falcons style human towers display and parade
Time: 10.30 parade start. 11 tower building on Pl de Sant Jaume.
Where: Starts Plaça Nova by Av. de la Catedral, then 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. 10.30 parade starts at 10.30am and at 11am  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 MAC Festival

Mercè Arts de Carrer (MAC) - street arts festival

Dates: Friday 20 to Tuesday 24 September 2019
Activity: Street arts festival
Dates: during Merce Festival
Where: Various venues in Barcelona
What is it? 150 national and international companies perform hundreds of street art performances at venues Ciutadella Park, paseo de Lluís Companys, parque de la Trinidad, Montjuïc castle, la Llera del Besòs, el Palauet Albéniz and antigua fábrica de Estrella Damm.

Mercè sports events

There are many sports events during La Mercè including popular annual 10k run Cursa de la Mercè on Sunday 29th September 2019. The Mercè festival also hosts a Festa del Fitness - a communal fitness session - on Avenida de la Reina Maria Cristina on Sunday 22 September 2019 

Mercè pirotècnic fireworks festival

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

Dates: Friday 20 & Saturday 21 September 2019
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 firework 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. In 2019 the fireworks are by companies from Beirut and Peru.

Piromusical de la Mercè

Music, fireworks, light and water display at Magic Fountain

Date: Tuesday 24th September 2019
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. In 2019 the show pays tribute to The Beatles, Barcelona opera house and soprano Montserrat Caballe, Glenn Miller and typical music of Beirut , the guest city of Mercè 2019.

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 - Videomapatge de la Mercè

Dates: Friday 20 to Tuesday 24 September 2019
Activity: light mapping projection show on facade of city hall
Time: see times below
Admission: free
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. Light mapping show very 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 midnight 
Saturday 8:30 pm to 11pm 
Sunday 8:30 pm to 11pm 
Monday 10:20 pm to midnight
Tuesday: 8.45 pm to 10pm

Mercè Catalan Wine & Cava Festival

Dates: Friday 20th to Tuesday 24th September 2019
Times: Sep 20 & 23:  4pm to 9pm and Sep 21, 22, 24: 12  to 9pm
Activity: 39a Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya - wine festival
Admission: free. Tastings not free.
New location: Ronda de Sant Antoni near Mercat de Sant Antoni
Nearest metro station: Sant Antoni - Purple line L2
Hashtag: #Mercè19 #BCNwinefestival
What is it? 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 2019. The Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya showcases over 70 top wineries present wines from the twelve Catalan denominations of origin, which include DO Alella, Catalonia, Cava, Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre, Empordà Montsant Penedès Pla de Bages, Priorat, Tarragona and Terra Alta regions. 

Book Fair - Passeig de Gracia

Dates: 20 September to 6th October 2019
Activity: 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
Hashtag: #FiraPGràcia19
What is it? Annual outdoor book fair which coincides with Mercè Festival. The 'Fira del llibre d'ocasió Antic i Modern' (Catalan) or 'Feria del Libro de Ocasión Antiguo y Moderno' (Spanish) is an open air book market of new and old Spanish and Catalan books, and a few foreign books too. It 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. 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 including the MAC street art festival.

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, 25 September 2021 10:41