Celebrate Barcelona’s La Mercè Festival this September!

If you’re staying in a villa in Barcelona during September, you may be wondering why there’s an extra special atmosphere surrounding the city and why everyone appears to be in good spirits. It’s because of La Mercè, a lively and exciting festival that is one of Barcelona’s most important annual calendar events. The festival takes place on 24th September each year and is not to be missed!

History of La Mercè

Catalans have celebrated La Mercè since 1871, although the celebrations as we know them today were largely introduced during the early 20th century. The event is thrown in honour of the Mare de Déu de la Mercè, or Virgin of Grace, who is believed to have saved Barcelona from a plague of locusts. If you’re staying in a Barcelona vacation rental in or near to the Gothic Quarter, you can visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy, which displays a statue of the Virgin at the top of the church.

Festivities

Street performances, parades featuring giant statues (gegants i capgrossos), and human towers (castellers) are all standard events that take place throughout the festival. However, each year there’s something new and different, including ‘fire runs’, fire-breathing dragons, and light projection shows. The festivities continue well into the night, but don’t worry too much about how to get back to your vacation villa in Barcelona; there are often late night train services in operation.

Catalan Produce

La Mercè is one of the best times to sample some authentic Catalan food and drink, especially at the Catalan Wine & Cava Festival which takes place as part of the event. Beverages from local Catalan vineyards are available to taste and purchase, and they make great souvenirs or gifts to bring back to friends and family from your holiday in Spain.

 


Sant Joan: The most meaningful beach party of the year!

If you´re lucky enough to be taking a Spain holiday in one of our Barcelona holiday rentals on 23 June, then get ready to experience one of the most unforgettable festivals in the world!

The feast of Sant Joan is a truly unique Catalonian holiday that welcomes summer by celebrating the summer solstice. In Catalonia, the sun represents fertility and wealth, thus bonfires and fireworks are on display as symbols of strength and energy for the coming season. The original flame is ignited in the town of Cangió in northern Catalonia, and it is welcomed with different ceremonies as it travels through the districts of Catalonia. Once it arrives in the city of Barcelona, the president of national parliament and other personalities welcome the flame to the city in a formal ceremony.

There are three symbols of Sant Joan: water, herbs, and, of course, fire. Water represents healing, and for that reason it is a great opportunity to bathe yourself in the therapeutic salt waters of the sea. Herbs represent remedy, and it is very common for people to pick herbs during this time of the year. Fire symbolizes purity, which is why fires line the beach during the festival.

Beach festivities of Sant Joan
Beach festivities of Sant Joan

The official food of Sant Joan is the Coca, similar to a special kind of flatbread, and it comes in many flavors, both sweet and savory. The common ingredient in both varieties is anise, which gives the coca a distinct, somewhat spicy flavor. On the day and night of the festival, macaroons and herbs with ice will be handed out for free along the beaches to help celebrate the feast!

Coca de Sant Joan
Coca de Sant Joan

The most famous feature of the Sant Joan festival is the beach party that lasts through the entire night. If you want to admire the festivities in a quieter setting, head up to the top of Montjuïc and admire the amazing celebration from above! The day after the festival, everyone rests and shops will be closed on the regional holiday.

The beaches of Barceloneta will begin filling up on the evening of 23 June, so grab some friends and family, perhaps a few bottles of cava and a blanket, and head to the beach to experience one of the most incredible festivals of the year! If you’ve booked one of our Barcelona holiday rentals, we hope that you enjoy taking part in this amazing feast!

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