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Barcelona’s annual festivities attract 1.4 million

Catalan capital’s La Mercè festival ends after tens of thousands turn out all over the city to see concerts, processions and human towers

25 September 2017 07:29 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

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Almost 1.4 million people took part this year in Barcelona’s annual local festival, known as La Mercè. Although the actual feast day of Our Lady of Mercy (La Mare de Déu in Catalan) is September 24, the festivities go on for a few days, from September 22 to 25 this year, attracting a grand total of 1,392,920 attendees, according to local authority figures.

This year’s festival program was less centralized, with events spread out across the city, meaning some local neighbourhoods attracted large numbers of people. For example, the events in Nou Barris attracted 8,000 people, those in Sant Martí some 17,300, while Sant Andreu attracted 28,000 revelers and Sants Montjuic some 35,878.

One of the highlights of the four days was the street arts festival known as Mercè Arts de Carrer (MAC), which attracted some 342,298 spectators who came to see its 100 different artistic events held in different places around the city. Meanwhile, the events in Ciutadella park, including the unique venue of Lluís Companys, attracted 175,106 spectators, and Montjuïc castle got some 35,878 visitors to see the events held there.

Music in the open air

Live music out in the open is one of the main features of La Mercé and people flocked to see the open-air concerts on Bogatell beach (138,800 attendees) and Maria Cristina avenue (114,000). Meanwhile, La Rambla Raval, one of the venues in the BAM music festival that ran alongside La Mercé, attracted some 21,300 people over three nights.

Yet, whether the capital city or a modest fishing village, Catalonia’s annual local festivals are also about traditional culture, and La Mercè is no different. Some 90,000 people turned out to see the lively firework procession known as the Correfoc, while another 80,000 lined the streets to watch the traditional procession known as the Cavalcada, in which giant figures are paraded through the streets. Finally, Catalonia’s unique human castles in Sant Jaume square, where the city hall is located, attracted some 21,500 people.

La Mercè festival ends with the Piromusical, an event that includes fireworks and music, and which this year pàys tribute to the guest city of Reykjavík, the 25th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Barcelona, and the 40th anniversary of the first LGBT demonstration in the city. The city will also remember the victims of the August 17 terror attack.

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  • Human towers during La Mercè festivities (by Júlia Pérez, ACN)