Barcelona’s biggest festival: La Merce

These are festive days in Barcelona.

Starting today and running through Sunday, the streets of the Catalan capital will be alive with the celebration of La Merce, the city’s biggest annual festival. I have never been, but it looks like a great time. They have countless events and activities, including plenty of standard festival fare like music, food, drink, performances and general merry-making.

But La Merce has three special highlights that make it unique.

First you have the gigantes. These are giant figurines that march through the streets, dancing around and spinning. Pretty cool. Could maybe give kids nightmares.

Then there are the castells. I love these. I’ve written about them before. This is a local tradition of human tower building. The goal is to build the highest tower, the one with the most levels (of humans). Castells can reach as high as ten levels, about 50 feet high. You can see castell-building in action here.

Finally there’s the correfoc. This is where a bunch of people dressed as devils run through the streets wielding firecrackers, torches and very intense sparklers. There are normally two such displays, one for the kids (which is a bit more mellow), and then one later in the night for adults where things get really wild. The devils spray the crowd with sparklers and fireworks. They suggest spectators wear hats and sunglasses and protective clothing.

Photo: vosh via Flickr (CC)

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