Here’s a message for all you boys and girls who are coming to stay in Barcelona for a few days any time between September 19th and 28th: You’re in luck!
And I’m not saying this because it’s some kind of special week when it’s actually affordable to have a coffee in Passeig de Gràcia, or anything like that. My reason for saying this is that this is the week when Barcelona celebrates its main annual city festival: the Festival of La Mercè. This is a traditional festival and series of street events during which different institutions, cultural centres and associations make their premises and open spaces available to the general public for the holding of concerts, theatrical performances, poetry recitals, firework displays and all kinds of leisure and artistic activities.
For nearly 10 days, if you wish to, you will be able to enjoy morning, afternoon and night numerous different free events held all over the city which will keep you entertained and, who knows, you may find one or two that you really enjoy.
The most complicated thing about the festival is understanding the official programme. Never before have so many doubts been expressed in such a short space of time as those that arise from reading the Festival handbook. And this isn’t because it’s been badly put together, but rather because the human brain quite simply is not able to choose between so many different things to do.
The festival of La Mercè is also a good opportunity to get to know districts of Barcelona that, due to their location or lack of places of particular interest, tend to go unnoticed both by tourists and Barcelonians who don’t live in the area. During the period of the Festival there will be 35 different locations all over the city where events will be held: go to the Plaça Reial, to the Cathedral and to the Forum, but don’t forget to also take a look at what’s on in Clot, Fabra i Coats and at the ¨SaT!¨ Theatre in Sant Andreu. That way you can be sure that, when you get back home, you’ll have a much better idea of what the people here are really like!
The last thing I wanted to explain was that, as is usually the case at local festivals all over the country here, every year a well-known personality is chosen who for one reason or another is considered to represent values that make him or her a suitable person to make the inaugural speech at the start of the festivities. This year it’s the turn of a gentleman of the name of Jaume Sisa.
Jaume Sisa has at different times been a salesman for electrical goods, a waiter, a bookseller and a fruit-picker in the province of Lleida, but that’s not why he’s making the inaugural speech this year. Jaume Sisa is an inter-galactic singer-songwriter, extravagant, often misunderstood and sometimes ignored. He has, however, also been a breaker of new ground, and has remained a consistent, stubborn and independent character. It’s not his music that I like, but what he represents. One thing that’s clear is that Jaume Sisa also represents an aspect of the Catalan mentality, a certain wildness that doesn’t give a damn about what is politically correct, typical of somebody who has got to the top without trampling over anybody else. For this reason I invite you to access www.youtube.es and to enter “jaume sisa”. Click on the first item, and welcome to Barcelona!
QUESTION: Why Barcelona?
ANSWER: Because they still hold puppet-shows in the street.