September brings with it the back to work, back to school, and this time round a pretty big drop in the temperatures. But fear not, as it's also time for some festivals and one of the best that the city has to offer - La Merçe.
Barcelona actually has a fair few patron Saints, one of them being Our Lady of Mercy, who celebrates her feast day on the 24th September. So in homage to their patron (and for any excuse for a bit of a shindig of course) Barcelona comes alive from the 18th to 26th September with open air concerts, workshops, circus, dances, markets, etc. etc. etc. You name it, La Merçe's got it. The whole city is involved and there are activities for young and old, dotted all the way around the city.
After living here for more than ten years, I've noticed (and have also mentioned before) that it really is the people of Barcelona's festival. Now, I know that might sound daft, but I mean that the difference between some of the city's other festivals like Sonar, Primavera Sound, Grec, and many others is that they have an international appeal and advertise themselves much more to the foreign (tourist) crowd. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that La Merçe doesn't offer just as much talent - not at all. What I mean is that the festival is hardly promoted outside of the city itself (not even in other parts of Catalonia) and for all the years I've been here, I've never once found a program in English (or Spanish for that matter). Full details need to be taken directly from here. Obviously being the modern age of mobiles and smart phones, you can sign up for free mobile updates, too.
Highlights include open days at Montjüic castle and the Frederic Mares museum (which will soon close for restoration work) as well as almost all your other museums on the 24th. There are also the ceremonial beasts on display which is worth a look if you're in the centre, as well as the always-hyped correfoc (fire run) which despite changes in European laws just seems to go out and do the same as always anyway! There also looks to be a tasty little show on the Friday at the Rambla del Raval, with "rices of the world" - different dishes from around the world will be prepared using rice and tasting from 13h to 15h! Mmmmmmm!!!
Guest city this year is Dakar, the Senegalese capital, and first sub-Saharian city to gain the honour of pairing for the week's activities. Expect dance, music, culture and traditions to bring a bit of African magic to this year's affairs. And especially some of the crazy African beats, from the likes of Ntapkeu de Bafia
So, looking forward to this year's Merçe? anything in particular caught your eye? Let me know in the comments! And if you're looking for accommodation in the city, apartments in Barcelona are a great money saver for families and friends!