When it comes to city breaks, Barcelona is a popular destination – and this is especially the case in September, when millions of people descend on the Spanish metropolis for the Festes de la Merce. The annual festival dates back more than a century and takes place over the course of a week, offering hundreds of different cultural events and activities in the process.
It began in 1902, several years after the Pope named the Virgin of La Merce the patron saint of Barcelona. Since then, the Festes de la Merce has drawn crowds of spectators every year keen to see the festival’s famous religious and cultural street parades.
It has expanded over the decades to encompass a wide range of arts disciplines, with exhibitions and performances relating to dance, the theatre, music and art among those taking place across the city. The Festes de la Merce includes several mini-festivals, such as the Barcelona Accio Musical – or Barcelona Musical Action – event promoting new music and the Fire Festival.
Visitors can also enjoy the Barcelona Street Arts initiative and take in a host of performances while out and about in the city, as well as view spectacular aerial acrobatics involving balloons and jets. In addition to the Festes de la Merce, holidaymakers might want to take the opportunity to see Barcelona’s amazing array of sights and attractions.
There are so many that it can be something of a struggle to list them all – never mind see them in the space of a few days – but the main ones include Plaza de Catalunya, the Gothic Quarter, the San Sebastian tower, the Picasso Museum and the various examples of wonderful architecture designed by Gaudi. Other highlights include Barcelona’s many tapas bars, some fantastic shopping and the chance to simply lie back and relax on the beach.
Because the Festes de la Merce attracts up to two million people each year, it might be worth looking into Barcelona hotels as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. If you do manage to secure accommodation for the festival, you can be sure you’ll have a fantastic holiday that you’ll never forget.