Saturday, December 5, 2015
The local festival taking place in our Barcelona neighbourhood this week has a Correfoc, or Fire Run tonight. We went to the Mercé Correfoc in Barcelona the first week of our trip, and I am delighted to have another chance to experience this wild and crazy parade one more time.
Wikipedia’s definition: Correfocs (Catalan pronunciation: [ˌkorəˈfɔks], Western Catalan: [ˌkoreˈfɔks]); literally in English “fire-runs”) are among the most striking features present in Catalan festivals. In the correfoc, a group of individuals will dress as devils and light fireworks – fixed on devil’s pitchforks or strung above the route. Dancing to the sound of a rhythmic drum group, they set off their fireworks among crowds of spectators. The spectators that participate dress to protect themselves against small burns and attempt to get as close as possible to the devils… running with the fire. Other spectators will watch from ‘safe’ distances, rapidly retreating as necessary.
The Children’s Correfoc starts at six pm and we are both very surprised to see little devils actually carrying the fireworks. We had assumed that adult devils would be setting off the fireworks and that it would just be a tamer version of the adult Correfuc we had seen earlier at the Mercé. Some of these little devils look barely four years old.
There is so much excitement that it is palpable! There are drummers, very loud drummers, and the noise from all the firecrackers and the participants and spectators. During the Mercé Correfoc we attended in September we were pretty much stuck in one spot watching everyone go by. Here we are able to walk and run alongside the participants and follow them through the streets. It is so much more fun!
I even get brave enough to participate!
The parade lasted for over an hour winding its way through the narrow streets. We went back to our apartment to have dinner and then we head back out at 8:00 for the adult Correfoc. It took us a while to find the beginning of the route and as we walked down a narrow street we noticed that the shop windows were all covered up with cardboard. We soon found out why, as the parade came straight towards us!
Remember, these streets are very narrow, so we ducked into a shallow doorway as the first devils passed us and we were showered with fireworks! We quickly decided that we needed to get out of this street as there was no where to hide or move away from all the sparks.
Did you notice the string of fireworks above the street on the last two photos? We were very glad that we had decided to move into a nearby open area, as these fireworks were lit as the devils came by and they rained down on everyone below!
It was quite the spectacle, and there were people running, screaming and laughing as they tried to get out of the way.
We are so amazed that all this is going on, and it probably could be quite dangerous but no one seems to think of that. It is totally crazy!! I am sure we would never be allowed to set fireworks off so close to buildings and people back home. Here you can see the devils holding up their firework pitchforks and what it looked like as they were lit.
The participants and many of the people who are watching the parade dress up, and some of the costumes were quite ornate. Notice the flame thrower device in the bottom right picture!
In one open area we watch a Fire Eater, I was quite sure he was going to set himself or someone else on fire!
The parade wound through the streets and we ran alongside, but I decided against participating this time. The fireworks were bigger, hotter, and a bit intimidating. During the children’s Correfoc I got a cinder on the inside of my glasses and it actually burnt a small hole into my lens! I shudder to think what would have happened if it had gone in my eye. I am sure it would have burnt and scarred the surface of the cornea. I learned my lesson, no more fire running without safety glasses.
The monsters make their appearance for the adult parade and they are quite impressive, throwing fireworks all over as they spin and twirl through the streets.
The air is thick with smoke and at times it is even hard to breathe!
There are some very acrobatic devils and they run and climb fences and other structures along the route all the better to shower their fire onto the crowd.
I want to follow the parade right to the end but it has been going for over two hours and I reluctantly agree that we can go home. I am exhausted from all the excitement and following two parades for over three hours! This video of the Correfoc is like the one that we saw in September at the Mercé and it gives an idea of the noise and excitement these parades generate. If you want to see more, just Google Correfoc, Barcelona and there are lots of videos.