Tuesday, September 15, 2009

La Merce 2009 - Barcelona's Festival Week

La Merce 2009 - Barcelona Sights
September is a great month in Barcelona. The Patron Saint (or one of them) Our Lady of Mercy has her feast day on the 24th September, and this is a great excuse to dust down some Catalan traditions and festival celebrations in a week-long party which involves the whole of the city.

According to the city website, this year celebrates 150 years since Ildefons Cerdà's plans for Eixample were approved, so expect some big goings on in Barcelona's biggest neighbourhood. Plaças and streets are filled with stages and open air concerts, and like other years, the festival embraces other cultures and countries, too. From the official site, it states that

"the Mercè likes to travel without leaving home. That is why this year it has invited Istanbul, which will be Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2010, to offer the people of Barcelona a taste of Turkish culture. And not only the most traditional elements, best represented perhaps by the whirling dance of the dervish Akin Çakmut (Maritime Museum), but also by the newest. Among other events, we will see an exhibition of contemporary artists from Barcelona and Istanbul (La Capella), we will hear the Eastern dub of the Baba Zula, a group that combines the purest oriental tradition with electronic sounds, and we will see the shadow theatre of Gengiz Ozek (Maritime Museum), a renovator of the tradition of what is called karagöz."

Expect the other fireworks displays, fire-runs (said to be under threat due to new EU regulations on the handling of fireworks for minors), dances and castellers, there's a circus up on Montjüic from the 24th to 27th, the Party in the Sky, as well as plenty of live events at the Greek Theatre, and music events all around the city centre. It's impossible to detail all of the events and highlights, especially as there may be some things I would prefer than other readers (like the Hives playing at the old Damm factory, or the magicians for my kids at the circus!) so you can read a full programme here. Unfortunately, like other years, the programme is only in Catalan - and I would pretty much bet that it stays that way. This is a very "local" festival, and whilst everyone is welcome to the celebrations, it's not greatly advertised around and translated into other languages, as other events are. Things kick off this weekend with the Marathon around the city centre, with many streets cut off temporarily during the morning and lunch hour, so if you're thinking of coming in the car, don't!

Coming to Barcelona for La Merçe? Leave a comment and tell us whet you'll be looking forward to seeing! I'd love to hear from you. And if you're still stuck for a place to stay, try these apartments for rent in Barcelona.


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