La Mercè festivities 2018: the 13 popular culture activities not to be missed on Monday, 24 September
The annual festival day is a busy one for festival activities: there are morning parades by graller musicians and trabucaire riflemen, the Giants Morning, the La Mercè Parade, the ceremonial dances by the Eagle and the giants, the human-tower performance by local groups, the big parade… So we have a really intense day ahead of us, full of cultural activities from early in the morning to late at night.
Here is a summary of the day’s popular culture highlights, in chronological order:
- Morning parades by grallers musicians. 8 am, from Plaça de la Mercè to Plaça de Sant Jaume. Let’s make sure everyone knows it: today is the patron saint’s day and the city celebrates it intensely, so no more sleeping. Wipe the sleep from your eyes and open your ears. If you live in the old quarter, if you don’t get up yourself, the sound of the graller players certainly will. Good morning and happy La Mercè! Route: Plaça de la Mercè, Ample, Regomir, Ciutat, St Jaume, Bisbe, Baixada Sta Eulàlia, Banys Nous, Ave Maria, pl St. Josep Oriol, Pl Pi, Cecs Boqueria, Boqueria, Banys Nous, Ferran, Plaça Sant Jaume.
- Galejada trabucaire parade. 9.15 am, from Rambla de Caneletes to Plaça de Sant Jaume. After the graller players, we have… the Trabucaires. These old bandits no longer commit crimes like centuries ago, but they still make noise, a lot of noise. And their trabucs or rifles may not be loaded, but the explosions they produce are still just as intense as they used to be. Route: La Rambla, Ferran, Plaça Sant Jaume.
- Giants Morning: dance performance and parade of dwarves and giants. 11 am, from Plaça de Sant Jaume to Plaça de Castella. Boys and girls from all the neighbourhoods of Barcelona, but also many adults, wait all year round for the exciting moment when all the city’s giants perform their dances in the heart of Barcelona. They’ll arrive on time, because they’ve spent the night at the Casa Gran and, after having been dancing for a while, they’ll go for a walk through streets and squares with their friends and fellow partygoers, the dwarves. Do you want to join in? Parade of Dwarves and Giants: pl. Sant Jaume, Ferran, La Rambla, Cardenal Casañas, Pi, Portaferrissa, Cucurulla, Portal de l’Àngel, santa Anna, Rambla, Tallers, Castella, Montalegre
- La Mercè Parade 12 noon, Plaça de la Mercè to Plaça de Sant Jaume. Barcelona’s popular culture parade will be escorting the authorities, accompanied by the music of the Barcelona Municipal Band and performances from casteller human-tower groups. Afterwards, the Giants of the City and the Eagle perform their ceremonial dances at Plaça de Sant Jaume, in front of City Hall. Route: Plaça de la Mercè, Ample, Regomir, Ciutat, Plaça de Sant Jaume (12.15 pm: Dances of the Eagle and the Giants of the City), inside the City Hall.
- Dances of the Eagle and the Giants of the City. 12.15 pm at Plaça de Sant Jaume. The festival’s most solemn moment comes when, from the balcony of City Hall, the Mayor presides over the dances performed by the Eagle and the Giants of the City.
- Human-tower performance by local groups. 12.30 pm at Plaça de Sant Jaume. Featuring all the city’s human-tower groups: the Castellers de Barcelona, the Castellers de Sants, the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia, the Castellers de la Sagrada Família, the Castellers del Poble Sec and the Colla Jove de Barcelona.
- Folk-dance group performance. 12 pm at Palauet Albèniz. The little palace and the gardens surrounding it fill up with music and dance on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Monday morning because all the folk-dancers invited to la Mercè pass through this venue. Keep your eyes open if you come on Monday morning, because you may see the performances of a dance group from Lisbon, the Ethnographic Group Danças e Cantares do Minho, and another from Turin, Ij Danseur dël Pilon.
- La Mercè Parade. 6 pm, from Carrer de Pelai to Plaça de Sant Jaume. One of the moments Barcelona residents have been waiting for: the La Mercè Parade, where popular culture and performance groups from all over Barcelona pass through city centre streets in a festive parade. Route: Pelai (carrer Gravina), Plaça Catalunya, La Rambla (ascending), Ferran, Plaça Sant Jaume, City Hall.
- Sardana dancing 6.15 pm, in Plaça de la Mercè. Organised by the sardana-dance group Agrupació Cultural Folklòrica Barcelona. With music by the Cobla Marinada music ensemble.
- Official end of the International Folklore Conference. 6.30 pm at l’avinguda de la Catedral. This festival organised by the Association for the Promotion of Folklore (Adifolk), which brings dance, music and a whole world of absolutely fascinating traditions to Barcelona. Do you want an example? Come and see the performances of folk groups such as the Folk Dance Company Ciudad de México, the Association Culturelle Couleurs d’Algérie, the Italian collective Ij Danseur dël Pilon and, of course, some guests from Portugal: the Ethnographic Group Danças e Cantares do Minho, as well as a group from Sri Lanka.
- Choral concert 7 pm, in Plaça del Rei. Singers from the Catalan Federation of Choirs will fill Plaça del Rei with their voices, offering a display of the cultural work carried out by almost 450 associations.
- Toc a plegar. 8 pm, setting off from Plaça de Sant Jaume and arriving at the Palau de la Virreina. The Giants of the City say farewell to the festival and parade back to their usual home, the Palau de la Virreina. If you want to accompany them, you can participate in one of the final acts of the La Mercè this year. Have you ever seen the Counterdance of the Giants of the City? Well this is when they perform it, at the entrance to the Virreina. Route: Plaça Sant Jaume, Llibreteria, Veguer, Plaça del Rei, Baixada de Santa Clara, Pietat, Bisbe, Plaça Nova, Boters, Pi, Plaça del Pi, Cardenal Casañas, Rambla, Palau de la Virreina.
- Concert by the Cobla Sant Jordi – Ciutat de Barcelona. 9 pm in Plaça de la Mercè. The City of Barcelona’s official Catalan music ensemble, the Cobla Sant Jordi, offers a final concert in the La Mercè Basilica, bringing the annual festival to an end.