Barcelona's "festival of all festivals" La Mercè, celebrating the city's patron saint began on 22 September 2011 and ends on 25 September 2011. La Merce is the pinacle of all Barcelona's festivals offering four days of free activities - free museum entry, music in plazas throughout the city, parades, dances, community meals, games, workshops, beachside firework displays and circus perfomances. And it wouldn't be the bigest Catalan festa major without the human towers and people running through the streets with fireworks.
There are so many events and parties it would be impossible to list everything here. I tried to focus on events that showcase Catalan traditions, such as the human towers and fire-runs, and that are family-friendly.
:: Event Highlights::
Free Entry to Museums: Throughout La Mercè many museums open their doors for free as part of the celebration. Most of the museum offer special events and workshops during the festival - many that are kid-focused. Each museum operates different schedules for "free" days - some are free on several days, others only one day. Check with the official La Mercè schedule for the details of each museum. Below are the museums that I feel are the most interesting for families with children.
- Cosmo Caixa - Hands-On Science Museum, CaixaForum - Art Museum, Museu Picasso, Museu Marítim, MACBA - Contemporary Art, CCCB - Contemporary Art, MNAC - National Art Museum, Museum of the History of Barcelona, Music Museum, Barbier-Mueller Museum, Museu Blau - Natural History and Science Museum, Museum of the History of Catalunya, Monestir del Pedrables - Original Monastery, Olympic and Sport Museum, Fundació Joan Miró, and Labyrinth Park.
Catalan Gegants | BCN.cat
La Mercè Parade / Cavalcada: Kids will love this parade featuring performers, music and the customary Catalan "gegants," ginormous puppets who represent Catalan icons. Kids in Barcelona has the parade route directions in English. The blue line on this map is the parade route. Saturday, 24 September 2011 at 18:00.
Beach Fireworks | Juan Jose Delgado Palacios, La Merce Photostream
Montjuic Castle Grand Circus: From 11 to 19:00 each day throughout La Mercè circus festivities are held at the Montjuic Castle.
Correfoc | Perfect Travel Blog
Correfoc: A serious Catalan tradition where diablo-costumed Catalans run through the streets with various firework and flame-throwing contraptions, such as fire-spitting dragon. For children, or the more faint, there is a infantil correfoc that begings at 18:30 on Sunday, 25 September 2011 on Carrer de Joan Massana passing through Via Laietana ending at Plaça Antoni Maura (black line on this map). The adult correfoc begins later at 20:30, also starting Carrer de Joan Massana, passing through Via Laietana, continuing onto Plaça Antonio Lopex i Consolat de Mar (dark red line on this map). Spectators should definitely wear long sleeves and hats. Children should not attend the adult correfoc and young children may even be spooked by the infantil correfoc.
Castellers: Another Catalan tradtion - building extemely high human towers in which a helmeted kid climbs to the top while the tower wavers with the shaking arms of muscled Catalan men and women. It really is an amazing, hold-your-breath type of moment. Castellers will be competing in Plaça Sant Jauma on Sunday, 25 September 2011 starting at 12 noon.
:: More Information ::
- Official La Mercè Information: All the information for the festival in English, Spanish and Catalan.
- Offical La Mercè Program La Mercè: Available in English, Spanish and Catalan
- La Mercè Map: Parade routes, event locations and information in Google Maps
- La Mercè Places: Events by Neighborhood
- FotoMercè Flikr Photostream