Our Second Correfoc!

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. FullSizeRender

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.FullSizeRender

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.

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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!FullSizeRender FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

I even get brave enough to participate!

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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! FullSizeRender

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.FullSizeRender

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!FullSizeRender

It was quite the spectacle, and there were people running, screaming  and laughing as they tried to get out of the way.FullSizeRender

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.Image-1

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!Image-1

In one open area we watch a Fire Eater, I was quite sure he was going to set himself or someone else on fire!  Image-1

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.FullSizeRender

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.Image-1

The air is thick with smoke and at times it is even hard to breathe!FullSizeRender

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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.  Image-1

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.

 

The Mercé Correfoc or “Fire Run”

The highlight of our day Sunday was the Mercé Correfoc, or Fire Run that started at 8:30 with an explosion of fireworks right on the street between the buildings.  We heard people talking about tying up your hair and covering your head and face with a scarf.  We soon found out why.image

The ‘devils’ start to run down the street, accompanied by groups of very loud drummers, and the fire breathing beasts!  These devils carry sticks which have firworks on them that twirl around, spraying fireworks everywhere!   They actually aim them at the crowd on purpose and run by us, at times just beyond arm’s distance!  
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Now we know why we need to cover up.  I had my sarong with me so we used it to cover our heads when the devils run by.  It is total madness!!  There is no way anyone should be doing this and yet here we are, along with thousands of others, caught up in the excitement of it all.
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 It was hard to get pictures, I took a lot but most of them were too blurry and out of focus. When the devils run too close to us we just covered up, and hoped to not catch fire!  We did see one person start smouldering until someone noticed and put out the fire that was starting on their head covering!imageWe stayed until 10:30 and I reluctantly agreed to leave even though there was no sign of the fun ending.  We needed to get home and finish packing as we leave our little Barcelona apartment tomorrow and head for the Monastery at Montserrat. I am playing catch up on these posts as we have not had internet since Sunday, and it was too late to post anything Sunday night when we finished packing.

Dragons and Beasts!

This building was a bullring, but bullfighting was banned in Catalonia in 2011 so now it is used for concerts and other events.  We walked by it on the way to a flea market this afternoon.image We found the flea market and it is huge, two stories and  probably hundreds of stalls.  We decide we will need to come back when we return to Barcelona and have more time to spend looking around.imageWe make our way to Parc de La Ciutadella, to check out the Mercé 2015 Festival activities. There are a lot more people here today than a couple of days ago.  I loved the balloons and the people watching.image

There were some antique rides that were very interesting. Notice the toilet seat…imageAnd the lady in white, she was pushing a lever that made the ride move. image

There were some very good dancers on stage, I think from the ballet company, not sure as all the announcements were in Spanish…there were crowds of people everywhere.image

Next stop was Placa Jaume where the Parade of the Fire Breathing Dragons and Beasts was supposed to start. We had to turn around and approach the square from a different street because the one we were on was completely jammed with people. I have never been in such a crowd before, and I didn’t like it at all. We could barely move, but managed to turn around and make our way to the other side of the square. We were very lucky as this was where the dragons and beasts came into the square. There were people eveywhere, even up all the side streets, but we were in a good spot up against the railing so we didn’t feel as squished as earlier. Here are a couple photos of the crowd.imageimageSoon the Dragons and Beasts emerged, with great fanfare and to the accompaniment of very loud very enthusiastic drumming. Each beast had it’s own group of supporters, who were making a great deal of noise.

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The pictures are a bit blurry because it was so dark and these dragons and beasts moved quite quickly and it was hard to find a spot that didn’t have a camera held up in it! The energy generated in this square was amazing, and very exciting. I loved it. After all the dragons and beasts left, we headed back to Barceloneta Beach to watch the fireworks by Buenos Aires. The show was a bit shorter than last night’s but it was much more spectacular. There were even Happy Face fireworks, but I never managed to get a picture of them. There were also a lot more people out and about watching the fireworks and on all the streets. We head back to our apartment, get home about 11:00, we are both tired as we did a lot of walking today,  but it was a good day.

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