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La Mercè celebration

Barcelona celebrates patron saint with La Mercè festival

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

Barcelona human castle

Bianca Stewart — THE BATTALION

La Mercè festival in Barcelona showcases a human castle

Festivals are fun to attend, however, I don't think I have ever experienced a celebration on such a large scale! La Mercè, or Our Lady of Mercy in English, is the patron saint of Barcelona.

La Mercè lasts three days and includes several concerts on stages throughout the city.

There are parades, firework shows, traditional dancing and street performances. Several acts are repeated each day to offer everyone a chance to enjoy the show. Public transportation even runs all night to allow people from all over the city to come to Barcelona specifically for the festival and celebrate.

During my first Spanish celebration, I visited several different plazas Friday night to check out the music scene. The first venue was a mixture of Latin music where young and old danced all around to the upbeat, energized music. My Barcelona friends and I then walked the narrow streets of Born to Plaza Real where we jammed out to an indie band. This indie band was all the way from Chicago. Just 15 minutes more of walking and we found crazy dance, techno beats being created by several guys on laptops.

The crowds were wild, the metro was crazy but the night was ridiculously fun.

Each year the city of Barcelona hosts another city during this festival.. This year Saint Petersburg graced us with its presence. I am sad to say I missed out on their ballet performance due to the rain that appears every year during the celebration. However, I did get to see the human towers, which was pretty impressive.

Along with exchange student coordinators, a bunch of us took a walking tour around an old castle, where there were skits, vendors and awesome views of the Mediterranean Sea and the entire city of Barcelona. We walked to where the 1992 Summer Olympics were held and ended the night at the Plaza de España, where I witnessed one of the greatest firework shows of my life. The number of people filling the plaza was insanely unbelievable. Thousands of proud citizens of Catalonia gathered to celebrate and watch in awe.

This was my first weekend fully recovered from jetlag and initial culture shock, and I couldn't have asked for anything better. It was so great to witness such pride in one's city and see people of all ages gather to celebrate in so many ways.

Walking the blocked off streets of Barcelona was definitely a great way to initiate and ignite my time here abroad in Barcelona.

Bianca Stewart is a senior marketing major at Texas A&M University. She is studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain for the Fall 2011 semester and is interested in fashion, music, and culture.

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