Get Ready to Celebrate Catalonia’s La Diada

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While some cultures focus on celebrating victories, in Catalonia, September 11th, aka, the “Diada” marks the anniversary of a battle lost that ultimately resulted in the abolition of the Catalan’s established government and institutions. Celebrated since the  reinstatement of Catalan Parlament in 1980, as the “National Day of Catalonia” festivities include speeches from politicians and noteworthy Catalans, poetry readings, lectures traditional dances, political protests, and live music, all of which pale in comparison to Barcelona’s massive city-wide block-party, La Mercé. Most events will take place in Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park (Metro: L4 Ciutadella/Villa Olimpica, L1 Arc de Triomf)

Note: Festivities for La Diada, unlike at La Mercé, tend to be somber and serious, about paying your respects to lives lost, not partying. Don’t expect a barrel of monkeys or a bucket of laughs.

To some (especially visiting Americans)  this unlikely celebration seems even stranger in the light of the September 11 attacks on the Word Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, but you’ve got to praise the Catalans’ sense of moxie. After being defeated and cruelly repressed for years, they still manage to make an occasion out of having fought and lost, and finally recovered control over their culture. Serious congratulations are in order for the post-regime comeback, but we find it kind of sad that a bigger deal (with what appears to be a much bigger budget) is made for Barcelona’s city festival, La Merce.

That said, here are some of your options during this year’s Tuesday event:

Brave the crowds and venture out for free events at the city’s Ciutadella Park. The show begins on Tuesday at 11:30am with uniformed Mossos d’Esquadra marching about and a flag-hoisting ceremony, as well as poetry reading, story telling, and live music (mostly classical and traditional). 

From 6pm to 9pm, get your protests in and make a political statement participating in the  ”Catalonia, a New State of Europe” demonstration on Passeig de Gracia.

Yet another “free” possibility with educational value is kicking around the inside of the Catalan’s House of Parliament, open from 10 am to 6 pm.

If you’re open to spending some of your hard-earned euros or that 20 you picked up the other day in the metro, see the inside of the spectacular Palau de la Música Catalana and enjoy some classical music by Catalan composers like Monpou, Toldrá, and Montsalvatge.

Of course, if you want our opinion, you’re better off saving your crowd-tolerance for the more attractive offerings at La Mercé. So settle in at home with a good blacklisted book and a glass of red, or meet up with a friend for a cocktail, and toast to freedom in Catalonia.

Long live the four-day-weekend and visca Catalunya!



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