Programme details for La Mercè 2023

12/09/2023 - 15:55 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

Hundreds of free activities are being organised all around the city, with something for everybody in a programme of live music, street arts and popular culture.

The full programme for La Mercè 2023 can be found on the website Here is a summary of some of the highlights:

Popular culture

The festival’s traditional side will play an important part again this year, with parading giants, traditional processions, early morning gralla pipers and stick dances, sardana dancing, tabalada drumming and havanera singing. Once the opening speech concludes, the Ministrils del Camí Ral figures will be kicking off the fun with the opening ceremony, or Toc d’Inici, where there will be a presentation of Olga and Volodímir, the giants from Kyiv which represent their prince saints. Highlights in the programme of popular culture activities include human towers displays on Saturday and Sunday in the morning, the fire festival, with a children’s fire run and the opening of Hell’s gate on Saturday evening, plus the music and fireworks spectacular which marks the 30 anniversary of the Sònar festival on the night of Monday 25 September.

Besides the activities in Pl. Sant Jaume and Passeig de Gràcia, the other main stages for popular culture during La Mercè 2023 will be Av. Catedral, with the traditional Cors de Clavé choral concert (Monday 25); El Born CCM, with an exhibition of dragon and fire beast figures; Pl. Mercè and the Basilica de la Mercè, with a concert by the Cobla Sant Jordi – Ciutat de Barcelona; La Rambla and the streets of Ciutat Vella, with the giant parade known as the Xambanga, and the Palau de la Virreina, with an exhibition of giant figures.

Mercè Arts de Carrer

The MAC street arts festival offers 61 shows this year, with over 300 functions providing a varied array of the best acts in circus, urban dance, theatre humour and more. The epicentre for this year’s MAC will be the Parc de l’Estació del Nord, offering an ongoing programme all through the day at the different stages. Another new space is the Oasi MAC, set out in the pedestrian area of Consell de Cent, where artists will look for pedestrians to offer them their creations in the street.

The other usual spaces being used again for this edition are the Palauet Albéniz, Montjuïc Castle, with the traditional selection of circus shows, the Parc de l’Aqúeducte, with a clowning programme from Pallassos Sense Fronteres, and the Parc de Joan Miró, for young children and with activities conceived specially for people with autistic spectrum disorders.

La Mercè is also joining in with the commemorations for Picasso Year, marking 50 years since the artist died. The Comparsa Visca Picasso returns, consisting of a set of eight figures that represent well-known elements of the painter’s artistic career, and there’s also a recreation of the house in Plaça de la Mercè where the artist lived for nine years.

Music for all tastes

Over a hundred artists and groups will be filling the city with music of all styles through the programme for the BAM, Acció Cultura Viva and Música Mercè. The best music on the local, national and international scenes will be performing at sixteen different public stages, with free admission. Besides the return of iconic spaces such as the Teatre Grec, Rambla del Raval, Jardins del Doctor Pla i Armengol and Av. Catedral, other spaces will be back and include the stages at the Bogatell beach, the Moll de la Fusta wharf, the Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm, Plaça Major de Nou Barris and the Nau Bostik, as well as new venues such as Pl. Can Fabra, Passeig dels Til·lers and the stage in C/ Menéndez y Pelayo. The classic stage in Plaça Reial also makes a return, marking the 30th anniversary of the BAM. Artists and groups taking to the stage for La Mercè include ZOO, Ginestà, Vicco and many more.

Local talent currently breaking out will be well represented at La Mercè 2023, with artists from the city’s higher music schools and new music projects such as the Sona 9 and the Brot. Música Mercè will be presenting fifty varied and festive acts, with something for everybody in a parity programme combining local artists, such as Rumba All Stars, Anna Colom with Ángeles Toledano and Marina Herlop, along with others from as many as eleven countries, including Pongo (Angola), Ile (Puerto Rico) and Bala Desejo (Brazil), plus the show Mil veus per a Víctor Jara, a concert marking fifty years since the coup in Chile and combining texts with songs performed by young Catalan and Chilean artists.

Symphonic music will be back to transform Pl. Major in Nou Barris into a large auditorium, offering the chance to enjoy music from the Barcelona Municipal band and Symphony Orchestra and the choir from the Gran Tearte del Liceu, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and National Orchestra of Catalonia and Vozes, the project for children’s and young people’s choirs and symphony orchestras for integration and social cohesion. This year’s programme includes longer hours on Sunday and Monday to present two new concerts when it’s time for that aperitif before lunch, with Latin American music. All stages in the Música Mercè programme feature some Ukrainian acts, with artists such as DakhaBrakha, Maryana Klochko, Daria Kolomiec, Poly Chain and Alyona Alyona.

Barcelona Acció Música reaches its 30th edition this year, presenting the current alternative music scene with 55 artists and 4 stages and notable acts including the likes of Baiuca, Mushkaa, EU.CLIDES, The Notwist, Remei de Ca la Fresca and Queen Asher & Rehema Tajiri. For its part, the Acció Cultura Viva sector turns seven with a programme based on an open call which attracted over 600 projects. For three days there will also be a space with participatory activities and workshops, a discussion about models for music festivals, the Independent Disc Fair, various food spaces, radio programmes and much more.

Kyiv as the guest city for La Mercè 2023

Ukrainian culture plays a significant part in the programme for La Mercè 2023. The Kyiv Academic Theater of Ukrainian Folklore Berehyni will be performing traditional Ukrainian dances for the Mercè Arts de Carrer, and also at midday on the final day of festivities in Pl. Sant Jaume. Elsewhere, the Parc de l’Estació del Nord will be exhibiting works by the Ukrainian artist Maria Primatxenko (1909-1997) and the most contemporary and feminist scene will be represented by Alina Sokuslka and Apache Crew. Maryana Klochko, the quartet DakhaBrakha and many other artists from Ukraine will combine with Ukrainian artists living in Barcelona, performing at the Ucraïna Fest at the Palauet Albéniz.

Another example of Ukrainian creativity is the film and video fair at the former building of the Editorial Gustavo Gil on the last two days of the festival, a collaborative initiative between La Mercè and the teams from the biennial art event Manifesta 15, which is being held in Barcelona next year.

Themed spaces

One of the festival’s traditional venues, the Parc de la Ciutadella, will once again be hosting activities this year. One is the Terra i Gust fair, a well-established sustainable food event combining gastronomy with the concert programme. The park will also be hosting Associa’t, a community event where city associations offer a programme brimming with popular culture, play-based activities, games and participatory workshops for people of all ages. This year’s Associa’t is being held in various spaces, with over fifty activities in the Parc de la Ciutadella on 23 and 24 September and music shows in Av. Catedral during the morning of 25 September.