The festivities of La Mercè

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The giants of the city in Sant Jaume Square.
La Mercè is the annual festival of the city of Barcelona, declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest. Every year for four or five days around September 24 Barcelona becomes a great stage for a multitude of activities, concerts and festive performances. It is a multitudinous and popular festival that congregates between 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 people, which makes it the most popular street festivity in Catalonia.

In 1868 in Barcelona the citizens begin to celebrate religious and popular festivals in honor of the Virgin of the Mercy, patron virgin of the city, to which the believers attribute several miracles. The party becomes official from 1902, when the city council organizes for the first time a program of events to celebrate the Festa Major. The festivities as are known today are born in the 70's of the 20th century.
The festive model is based on the recovery of authentic folk traditions thanks to the collaboration of a large number of groups and entities throughout the city. The most important traditional activities are the parades of bastoners, grallers, dragons and trabucaires, human towers (castells), fireruns, sardanes.

Apart from the traditions, the Mercè is also music, dance, circus, street theater and many more things. The musical program of the major festival includes free concerts deployed in multiple venues throughout the city or the independent music festival, the BAM. The popular marathon and the Swimming crossing of the Port of Barcelona complete the agenda of events.
The La Mercè festival begin at 7pm with two simultaneous acts, the reading of the proclamation and a solemn parade of the inaugural procession through the streets of the Old City, followed by the Start Call show at Sant Jaume square.
At 10am of the central day of the feast, after the celebration of the Mass, some groups of local castellers lift the pillars of honor and make a dance of human towers in the La Mercè Square. Then, when the procession of authorities reaches the Sant Jaume Square and the mayor goes to the balcony of the Town Hall, take place the protocol dances of the Eagle and the giants of the city. After this it begins the Castellers Day (Diada castellera de la Mercè), with the participation of all groups from Barcelona. In the afternoon the cavalcade of La Mercè started.
The culminating moment of the celebrations is the Piromusical, a music and fireworks show that marks the end to the Major Festival of Barcelona.