Every September, a huge festival incorporating hundreds of free outdoor performances is organised to honour La Mercè – the patron saint of Barcelona. The festival starts on the 24th, a public holiday in the city, and it goes on all weekend.
Lively street processions of giants, dragons and ‘capgrosses’ – literally, ‘big heads’ – take place on the in the old quarter of the city. This year, two new giants step out, one dedicated to the Polish composer Frederic Chopin and the other to writer George Sand – a pseudonym for French Baroness Aurore Dupin. See if you can spot them!
Another major event is the Correfoc on Saturday night at 8pm. This is a wild procession of devilish fire swinging for which the public are advised to keep a safe distance.
On Sunday at midday, squeeze into plaça Sant Jaume to witness the extraordinary Castellers create human towers. Teams compete to get as high as possible with a brave youngster right at the top!
For this edition of La Mercè, Barcelona is twinned with Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The two cities are brought together in collaborative performances and art projects, such as Africa Camut Band: a lively day performance of percussion and dance that takes place in the Grec Theatre on the 24th and 26th.
A major part of the festival in 2010 is ‘Mercè Arts al Carrer’ or MAC which brings inventive international street performers to the city. Contemporary circus and puppetry is celebrated at the castle on Montjuic; while in Parc Ciutadella there is dance and theatre in the daytime, and spectacular ‘light shows’ at night.