La Mercè Fire Run was started in 1979 as the Display of Fantastical Beasts as part of the project to revive and expand participation in the city’s annual festival. It soon was attended by throngs of people and spread all over Catalonia, making the fire run an essential part of any festival. This year, it will be held on Saturday 23 September on Passeig de Gràcia between Carrer de Provença and Carrer del Consell de Cent for the third year in a row. This 600-metre stretch has become the place for fire, a site where the groups of devils and the fire beasts of Barcelona will fill the street with fireworks and smoke.
The first activity at 5 pm will be La Tabalada [Drumming Session], which will summon the percussion players from the groups of devils (both children and adults) and the dragons and fire beasts to the intersection of Passeig de Gràcia and Carrer Provença. Once they reach Carrer Consell de Cent at 6:30 pm, the Children’s Fire Run will begin, with almost 30 festival groups from Barcelona who will take the same route in the opposite direction: from Consell de Cent to Provença.
And right here, near Carrer Provença, is the Porta de l’Infern [Hell’s Gate], which will mark the start of the La Mercè Fire Run at 8:30 pm. The Ceptrotada is where each group’s most spectacular sceptres, pitchforks and banners are all lit together, which will be the prelude to the Lighting of Hell’s Gate, which starts when the pyrotechnics end and leads to the devils, dragons and fire beasts.