Thursday, September 4, 2008

La Merce Festival - 24th September

September sees the dreaded return to work of most people, back to school and college and the end of the summer to an extent (although the weather is usually still sunny, just cooler which is a welcome break!). However, September also has a couple of holidays to make the return back not too hard. September 11th is "La Diada" or the Day of Catalan nationalism. This is always a public holiday (well, since 1980), and a good little break, as it's an excuse to nip down to Barceloneta for a Paella.

However by far the biggest celebration in the second half of the year, is the festival week celebrating one of the Patron saints of Barcelona, Our Lady of Mercy - La Merçe. This week long festival embraces the city, and it still very much the people's festival. It is hardly advertised outside Barcelona itself (not even in other parts of Catalunya) and every year the programmes are only printed in Catalan and Spanish (never English) - perhaps another indication of why they want to keep it as exclusive as possible. Events happen all over the city, and "plaças" fill with stages and podiums, bunting and portaloos, and it really is a great time to see some great free concerts. In recent years bands like Travis have performed - in the old Damm factory - for free, and other international as well as local bands and musicians like Jamie Cullum, for example.

The festival also features the always-spectacular human towers we are so used to seeing in other fairs and festivals and there is the fantastic "correfoc" or fire-run, where fire-breathing dragons run through the streets of the Gothic Quarter at night.

So far details are sketchy for the line-ups, so I may well post again closer to the date but early indications seem to suggest another great year with bands such as Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, Kinky Beat and a few others all ready to join in the fun.

Families and friends fortunate enough to co-incide with this week of festivities will not be disappointed, and it's always wise to book Barcelona Accommodation well in advance.


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