No time to sleep in Barcelona
Barcelona’s biggest festival reaches its crescendo on 24 September, which is a public holiday to coincide with the pre-eminent annual event.
In the preceding 3 or 4 days the city celebrates its regional culture, traditions and arts and you can expect there to be over 600 events and 2000 performers taking part. So you can understand why immediately fell for this remarkable city.
Its mixture of historical and modern, city and coast, tradition and avant garde and its energy and beauty captured me completely. That and the amazing 4-day festival I happened across on my travels in Spain.
While wandering the fascinating medieval streets, I was curious to see stages being built in every square and open space around the Old City. Come nightfall every communal area was transformed into the most eclectic mix of music that I have ever experienced. Opera, punk, reggae, folk, a cappella, classical, funk – you name it, it was there!
Fireworks lit up the streets and sky, the sangria and cerveza flowed, costumed people danced from stage to stage and all with the back drop of this exquisite city.
I wasn’t aware that I had been lucky enough to arrive on the first day of the Festas de la Merce; Barcelona’s festival to celebrate the city’s patron saint. Tradition has it that The Virgin of Mercy was asked to save the city from a plague of locusts. The plague ended and to thank her, she was named the patron saint of Barcelona.
The festival today is made up of various festivals – fire (spectacular fireworks), tradition (human pyramids, the parade of giants, elaborate costumes), sport, food and wine. Needless to say, it is one amazing party, so don’t expect to get much sleep!
Photo: Barcelona musicians by Ben Brown.