As warm summer gives way to cooler autumn days, it’s only natural to start feeling as if the time for travel is over and there is nothing left in the year but a never-ending sequence of dull, grey, colourless days of chilly winds and rain and snow. Or maybe I simply have a penchant for the dramatic… The best of summer may indeed be behind us, but no one seems to have told that to Southern Europe, where it’s still warm and pleasant even thought it’s almost October.
September is a busy month in sunny Spain. There are no bad times to visit Barcelona – a city alive with culture, history and gorgeous architecture that is at times bizarre, at times lovely, but always mesmerizing – but if you happen to be in Catalonia this week, it’s the perfect time to drop by the City of Counts, just in time for La Mercè Festival. Going back to the late 19th century, La Mercè is a festival held every year on September 24th, but with several days of festivities leading up to it.
Wine aficionados will be glad to know the Festival includes a Catalan Wine Fair, where you will be able to taste some of the wines of the region. There is also a marathon race, a pyromusical event and a special correfoc. The correfoc is a very Catalan tradition, in which a group of people dress up as devils and dance to the rhythm of drums, while setting off fireworks among the crowds. During the day you can admire the castellers dressed in red-and-blue, trying to build the tallest human tower possible. The streets of the Old Quarter will also be filled with street performers, including people dancing the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance.
Driving a car hire in Barcelona during the festivity days, specially in the centre of the city, is ill-advised, as many of the streets will be closed, there will be crowds and parades, and the traffic will be hectic. However, the metro will be open all night, so you won’t be left stranded! Even though it’s still warm in Barcelona this time of year, the nights can be chilly, so be sure to take a sweater. If you plan to watch the correfoc, protective clothing is important, including a hat and glasses, so as to protect your skin and eyes from the flying sparklers that are sprayed at the crowds.
If you’re staying a bit further south and travelling to Catalonia is not a practical option, driving your car hire to Murcia for the Feria de Murcia is another fun option. This festival goes back to the 18th century and lasts most of September. The festival is actually a collection of smaller festivals and events, which include competitions, bullfights, folklore, the Moors and Christians Festival and several others!
Autumn may be starting, but Spain still has much to offer, so pack up your bags and enjoy the new season!