A shared festival in a proudly diverse city

It's that time of year when we bid farewell to the summer, decking out the city and filling it with life, dancing and happiness over the early autumn nights. Let’s get ready to enjoy some of the most magical and eagerly-awaited moments of the entire year, when the festivities take over our streets and squares and as Barcelona residents we come out to share our city with pride and good cheer.

In these dark times, when the far right and hate speech is on the rise all over Europe, Barcelona is making the most of its festivities, standing out as a proudly diverse city. That is why I wish to express my appreciation for the marvellous poster by María Corte, which illustrates our mixed culture and shows the world that we never close our door to anyone here. We are a welcoming city, built between all of us, people from everywhere, who have loved our city and made it grow: Barcelona would not be the city it is — creative, innovative, loved worldwide — without the diversity that makes it up. And that is why we are also taking the opportunity to express our gratitude for the indispensable humanitarian work being carried out by Open Arms, which is reminding Europe's countries that saving lives is a moral and legal obligation, an unavoidable task if we wish to build a hopeful future for our children.

Many thanks to everyone, to our municipal workers and our cultural entities and associations, for your efforts and dedication. And congratulations to the Colla de Castellers de Barcelona human-tower group, for your fifty years of consistently high-rise performances and for taking us up to the sky with you.

This year's opening speech for La Mercè will be given by an exceptional speaker, Manuela Carmena, who reminds us how we need to listen more and love more. To defeat hate. To put an end to tension. Manuela is not from Barcelona, but she has loved our city throughout her life and especially as Mayor of Madrid, over the last four years. We wish to endorse this love for the city and between our cities as a legacy which we need to look after and preserve between us all.

Our city festival also allows us to view the world through collaboration with a sister city. This year we've got a much-loved guest city, Beirut. It has been destroyed so many times that it is hard to believe it has been rebuilt time and time again. But it was at these extremely troubling times that music and dance brought a ray of hope to its residents, celebrating life as a community and weaving together a better future.

I encourage you to experience the festivities for La Mercè to the full, with family, friends, residents and visitors over the coming days. There are a thousand and one Mercès, but at the same time there is only one: the Mercè that welcomes everyone without distinction. Let’s enjoy it with respect and look after each other. We will not allow any form of gender, homophobic or racist discrimination and we shall show the world why Barcelona is an open, feminist and committed city where love prevails over hate. A city of and for everyone, that is plural and open to the world.

Long live La Mercè!

Long live Barcelona! 



Ada Colau Ballano

Mayor of Barcelona