September means it is time for the city’s annual festival again. The various traditional folk groups have been getting ready for months and the moment has now arrived to show themselves in all their glory to the Barcelona residents who take to the streets to enjoy the festival.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the festival in its current form. The return of democratic local councils in 1979 was accompanied by a revival of its folk side. Since then lots of festive figures have been created by city neighbourhoods and associations. And La Mercè is when most of Barcelona’s beasts and giants can be seen because tradition has established they are put on display a few days before the festival in three exhibitions: the “Exposició del Seguici Popular”, the “Mostra de Dracs i Bèsties de Foc” and the “Mostra de Gegants”.
The Seguici Popular (People’s Retinue) moves to City Hall
The main new feature this year is that the Exposició del Seguici Popular, is moving to City Hall after 25 years, because the Palau de la Virreina is undergoing alterations. So, from 14 to 24 September, City Hall visitors will be able to see the Capgrossos Macers, the Gegants de la Ciutat, theÀliga, theLleó, the Mulassa, the Bou, the Drac, the Víbria, the Tarasca, the Cavallets Cotoners, theGegants del Pi and the giants of Santa Maria del Mar. The Seguici, or Retinue, created in 1993, comprises the most representative figures of the city’s festival history, which play a symbolic and essential role in the celebrations. Also part of it are the Ball de Bastons del Seguici and, from this year, the Falcons de Barcelona.
The Retinue exhibition can be seen from 10 am to 8 pm.
A Mostra de Gegants (Giants Exhibition) that includes a new giant
The second exhibition to be inaugurated will be the Mostra de Gegants, which is returning to the Pati Manning at the Casa de Caritat (C/Montalegre, 7) and it comes with a new giant’s debut. At 5 pm on Sunday 15, the Gegants de la Ciutat (City Giants) will leave City Hall for the traditional walk “To the Festival”, accompanied as always by some Barcelona giants celebrating their anniversary. This year it will be the Gegants Vells de la Casa de Caritat o del Carnestoltes, the Old Casa de la Caritat or Carnival Giants, about to become 160 years old.
After they reach Pati Manning and perform their dances, there will be an unusual event: the unveiling of a new giant: Normag, the first giant with learning difficulties in Catalonia. The €15,000 needed to create this figure was raised by crowdfunding. Other giants adapted for people with disabilities taking part in the unveiling will be Frida Kahlo, a female giant from Tarragona, Martí, from Premià de Mar and the Ocellaire de l’Eixample (Eixample Bird Fancier).
You will be able to see the hundred Barcelona giants every day of the week between 10 am and 8 pm.
The Mostra de Dracs i Bèsties de Foc (Dragons and Fiery Beasts Exhibition) includes parallel activities
Barcelona’s fiery beasts feature once again in the Mostra de Dracs i Bèsties de Foc, marking time as they wait for the festival. This year they will be back at the Born Cultural and Memory Centre, from 10 am to 8 pm between 17 and 25 September (closed Monday).
For the first time, two parallel activities have been added to the exhibition. At 7 pm on Tuesday 17 there will be a roundtable discussion entitled “Popular Culture and Children”. And, at 6 pm on Thursday 19, beast enthusiasts will be able to attend the talk “Festive Beasts in Europe”.
Exhibitions at Casa dels Entremesos
During the festival, the general public will be able to see various temporary exhibitions: