Olga and Volodymyr, princess and prince in Kyiv, giants in Barcelona

The capital of Ukraine is the guest city for the 2023 La Mercè Festivities.

The culture, history and traditions of Ukraine, a country that unfortunately continues to suffer the effects of war, will be present throughout the La Mercè programme. In an invitation approved unanimously by all Barcelona City Council municipal groups a year ago, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, will be the guest city for Barcelona's annual festival in 2023. 

In gratitude for the invitation, Kyiv will leave its mark on one of the most firmly rooted traditions in our heritage, by presenting Barcelona with two giants that represent their princely saints of Olga and Volodymyr. The giant figures will be presented at the Toc d’Inici opening ceremony and will be guests in the La Mercè procession, alongside the city’s beasts and figures. 

We will also be able to discover dances from this Eastern European country. Ukrainian popular dance is a tradition that dates back centuries. All its national characteristics are concentrated in its rhythm, while its movements reveal a wealth of genres and styles. The Kyiv Academic Theatre of Ukrainian Folklore “Berehynia” will be visiting Barcelona and offering a show and a workshop open to all. Spectators can also enjoy the contemporary dance of Alina Sokulska.

Another highlight will be the Cabaret de Circ on 23, 24 and 25 September, presented by Itziar Castro at Montjuïc Castle, with Ukrainian artists taking part. Meanwhile, the Palauet Albèniz will be the venue for the Ucraïna Fest on 24 September, with a crafts fair, as well as theatre, dance and music productions by Ukrainian artists who have taken refuge in Catalonia.

Speaking of music, La Mercè includes performances from various artists, including Maryana Klochko (electronic and experimental), the DakhaBrakha quartet (world music), and Ivan Sai and Dudu Alves (traditional, electronic and ambient music). If exhibitions are more your thing, the Parc de l'Estació del Nord will be hosting an exhibition of work by the Ukrainian artist Maria Primatxenko (1909-1997), the self-taught author of traditional art who worked in the mediums of paint, embroidery and ceramics.

The Gustavo Gili Publishing House old headquarters offers an Ukrainian film and video exhibition on September 24 and 25, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. curated by Tatiana Kochubinska, a specialist in Ukrainian art, and Oleksandr Teliuk, head of the State Archive of Ukraine and Kiiv Cultural Center. A collaboration of the art biennial Manifesta 15 and La Mercè 2023. All films are broadcast on VOS in Catalan.

Olga i Volodímir, prínceps a Kíiv, gegants a Barcelona