La Mercè festivities 2018: the 6 popular culture activities not to be missed on Friday, 21 September
Barcelona’s festa major begins on Friday evening with the Opening Parade and the reading of the opening speech. The Toc d’Inici or Opening Ceremony will be followed by ceremonial dancing, performed by all the figures from the popular culture parade: the City’s Giants, the Eagle, the Lion… Make sure to see the sardana dancing, accompanied by the Cobla Sant Jordi – Ciutat de Barcelona, and the beasts’ parade, which is being held on Friday this year.
Here is a summary of the day’s popular culture highlights, in chronological order:
- Bell ringing in the Gothic Quarter. 5 pm, at various locations in Ciutat Vella. The Friends of the Pi Belfry Association bring back traditional manual bell ringing. And they bring it to the Mercè Festival to let all the local residents of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter know that the celebrations have begun.
- Opening Parade. 6.45 pm, from the Palau de la Virreina to Plaça de Sant Jaume. If you want to experience the festival from the very beginning, follow the City Eagle, the Lion, the Mulassa, the Ox, the Víbria, the Dragon, the Tarasca, the Giants of Pi, the City Giants, Capgrossos Marcers, Cavallets Cotoners and the Giants of Santa Maria del Mar in their parade from Las Ramblas to Plaça de Sant Jaume. They are accompanied by the Trabucaires d’en Perot Rocaguinarda, Ministrils del Camí Ral and, exceptionally, to celebrate their centenary, the New Giants of the Casa de la Caridad. Before leaving, and to keep hunger at bay in the middle of the parade, the Panàtics platform and the Bakers’ Guild will offer you a chocolate-based snack. Route: Interior of the Virreina, La Rambla, Ferran, Plaça Sant Miquel. Return (9 pm): Ferran, La Rambla, Palau de la Virreina.
- Opening speech of the Mercè 6.30 pm, in the City Hall’s Saló de Cent. This year a Barcelona actress is giving the opening speech at the festival, to which she will not only be bringing her experience as a director and scriptwriter but also her firm defence of women’s rights.
- Opening sardana dancing 7 pm, on Avinguda de la Catedral. Accompanied by the city’s official cobla orchestra, the Cobla Sant Jordi.
- Opening Ceremony. 7.45 pm, in Plaça de Sant Jaume. This year, the Opening Ceremony celebrates the 25th anniversary, but it is also added to the commemoration of the Centenary of the New Giants of the Casa de la Caridad. You can expect new musical adaptations and many surprises. Enjoy watching the figures dance and seeing how they do a last lap of the square before returning to the Palau de la Virreina, while on the roof of the City Hall, the fireworks marking the start of the festival are set off.
- Parade of fire-breathing dragons and beasts. 8 pm, starting and finishing in Plaça de Sant Jaume. The fire-breathing dragons and beasts that you’ll see participating in some of the most awaited activities of the festival have not fully woken up yet, so they will take a first easy stroll around the streets and squares of the neighbourhood. If you want to see them properly, without the firey sparks that usually accompany their public appearances, this is the time.