Barcelona is a vibrant city showcasing really interesting cultural events. The correfocs (literal translation would be “fire-runs”) was without a doubt, one of the coolest events I got to see first hand, just off the Gothic Quarter on via Laietana – also one of my favourite thoroughfares in the downtown core.
If I am not mistaken, this visually striking parade has something to do with the Festival of La Mercè – Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of the district of Barcelona. The celebration dates back a good 400 years when Barcelona suffered a plague of locusts. However, I was never too clear as to how the correfocs fit into all of this.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the correfocs, before I get further sidetracked. These can come in different forms during a fantastic parade. In a nutshell, they are small papier maché floats that look like dragons and devils, dancing around the streets at night as bystanders cheer them on. What’s so cool about that? Well, the floats shoot fire!
Perhaps as many cultural traditions in the Iberian Peninsula, the groups are divided in barrios, each with a float of their own. Those who dance along the procession are generally wearing devil masks, blowing fireballs and putting on a fantastic show. Eventually, they make their way to the ocean at Mare Magnum symbolizing the closure of this grandiose event.
There is apparently an even more colourful expression of this Catalan tradition in a place called L’Arboç. In the evening of the feast day, a replica of Hell (as we imagine it would look like) is reproduced on the town square. A bunch of devils burn and dance for hours, shoot fire-jets and other pyrotechnics. A curious tradition indeed but well worthwhile if you make it down there in September.