The popular culture programme for La Mercè is grabbing the bull by the horns for the Saturday of the annual festival, a day jam-packed full of unique events. Some of the events particularly worth highlighting are: the Mercè Dance festival, which is this year dedicated to floral dances; the folk-dance group performance at Palauet Albéniz and the fire run and everything that entails.
Here is a summary of the day’s popular culture highlights, in chronological order:
- Morning stick dancers and street parade. 11 am in Plaça de Sant Jaume, and street parade at 12 noon. The entire city’s stick dancing groups will be showing off their dancing skills for the annual festival. Don’t miss out on the performances of festival groups in the various city neighbourhoods. Route (12 noon): Ferran, La Rambla, Cardenal Casañas, Plaça del Pi, Plaça de San José Oriol, Palla, Banys Nous, Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, Sant Sever, Sant Felip Neri, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, Montjuïc del Bisbe, Bisbe and Plaça de Sant Jaume.
- Mercè Dance: flowers and violets. 11 am, Avinguda de la Catedral. One of the new traditions of La Mercè since the nineties, is this show of “living dances”, traditional dances that are still interpreted in several towns in Catalonia. This year, there will be dances featuring floral elements. These include the dance of the Matadepera tree, the Vilanova i la Geltrú hoop dance, the Rubí gypsy dance, the Tortell d’Esponellà dance, Pinell de Brai dance and the Barcelona Sant Martí Bouquet Dance.
- Folk-dance group performance. 4 pm at Palauet Albèniz. The little palace and the gardens surrounding it fill up with music and dance on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday as all the city’s traditional and popular Catalan dance groups pass through this venue. Come and see the Colla Mare Nostrum sardana dance group (4 pm), the Gaudí dance group (5 pm), the Colla Sardanista Violetes del Bosc (6 pm) and Esbart Ciutat Comtal (6.30 pm) in action. Featuring the group Mediterrània. The dancer Joan Roca will take part in the sardana performances.
- Cors de Clavé Concert. 6 pm, Avinguda de la Catedral. The Choirs of Clavé Federation organises a recital that recovers the tradition of choral singing and invites us to enjoy the talent of some of its more than 5,000 singers. They comprise part of the 160 chorales distributed throughout Catalonia, with a diverse but partially common repertoire that can be heard in this concert.
- Closing of the Mercè Dance and the Galop de la Mercè Gallop. 6 pm at Plaça de Sant Jaume. Come back in the afternoon and you can attend the closing of this festive event, which includes the performance of Galop de la Mercè (7.30 pm). Do you know how to dance it? Don’t worry, you can learn here! Open your ears, the Cobla Sabadell will provide the music.
- Drum session 5 pm, in Plaça Comercial. The drums are sounding: this means that the gates of hell will soon open to let out the devils and the beasts of fire. The drummers who will lead the hellish entourage, before the correfoc fire run begins, will march out of the Born district towards Plaça d’Antoni Maura. At the end (6.15 pm), they’ll stop to offer their traditional concert. Route: Plaça Comercial, Rec, Princesa, Via Laietana, Plaça de Ramon Berenguer, Via Laietana, Plaça d’Antoni López.
- Correfoc fire run for little devils. 6.30 pm in Via Laietana. Why do you like watching the fire run so much? Perhaps, as a child, your parents brought you to this festive event, a celebration of fire and gunpowder specifically designed for the kids. Barcelona’s little ones can come to learn to love tradition… In a safer atmosphere than the adult fire run. Route: Plaça d’Antoni López, Via Laietana, Plaça d’Antoni Maura.
- Correfoc fire run. 8.30 pm in Via Laietana. One of the most special moments of La Mercè shows the street of the city with sparks. You’ll hear the drums as this very special traditional percussion group comes together to kick off the correfoc this year (7.45 pm). Afterwards, you’ll be able to attend the Ceptrotada (8.25 pm), when the devil groups that participate in the festival light their sceptres and, with their banners and forks, begin to advance relentlessly across the asphalt normally reserved for Barcelona residents. Finally, you’ll see the lighting and opening of Hell’s Gate (8.30 pm) and watch out for hellish beasts (Mulassa, Víbria, Tarasca, Sagresaure…) and all the devils who have come from all over the city. Firecrackers, explosions, evil beasts… Enjoy the party, and have an intense, but safe, time. Make sure you don’t take any unnecessary risks and be careful what you do! Route: Plaça d’Antoni Maura, Via Laietana, Plaça d’Antoni López.