Thursday, September 20, 2012

A few Tips for Enjoying La Merçe with Kids.

So as most of you know, I have 2 kids. 5 and 6. Barcelona is a pretty good city to explore and live in with 2 kids, considering it's a big city. Fortunately we live fairly close to the Port and the beach and also the green oasis of Montjüic, so it's not like pure cement high rises. So I'm always keen for them to join in any activities that the city celebrates  - or indeed each festa del barri - work and schedule permitting. Personally, I've often found that things geared towards kids seem to start far too late (!) but now mine are older, we get out and about a lot more.

So this weekend is La Merçe Festival - only a 4 day affair this year as the crisis looms large, but there's no reason to skimp of fun, which is free!! There are plenty of events for kids over the next few days and with Monday being a public holiday, then let's hope the weather stays fine the whole weekend!!

I wanted to offer a few hints and tips for people either visiting the city with kids, or parents with wee-uns who are venturing out this weekend in search of fun. First off is the Gegants presentation in Plaça Sant Jaume. In a word, don't bother. The Plaça gets rammed with people and tourists and it's almost impossible for children to see anything - I've swapped my kids from ground to shoulders many a time to no avail - much easier to wait for the parade which goes all the way down Las Ramblas, as children can get much closer and shout and chat to the people as they go past (like the photo above). And if they want a really close look, some of the best ones are on permanent display outside the festival.

Another area almost exclusively dedicated to the kids, is up on Montjüic. There is a circus each year in the amazing gardens of the castle, and then various puppet shows and marionettes and clowns from different countries all speaking the universal language of laughter. This year sess French, Catalan and Czec Republic back to wow the crowds. Access is easy via the funicular at Paral·lel station or buses up there, too. Full details can be seen here.

I've been up there two years running, and my big tip is go early. Take a packed lunch and plenty of water and try and get in the queues for the shows. We made the mistake last year of having an early lunch and going up after that. It had rained the previos 2 days, so I think everyone did the same as us, and we ended up (well, I ended up) queuing up for 2 shows, both of which we missed, and then the third one started at around 20h after that, so a total wash out!! There were some small theatrical performances outside while we were waiting, any maybe the weather played a part, but my tip is to go early to avoid disappointment.

Anyone else have any specific tips ? Anything not to miss ? The kids correfoc ? Free entrance to Sagrada Familia ? Please let me know in the comments below!

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