Saturday, 27 September 2014

Carrefoc Barcelona

I was lucky enough to be in Barcelona last week and the visit coincided with the La Merci festival that celebrates the city's patron saint. That meant that there were stages set up around town, buildings were used as screens to have art and cartoons projected on them, music all over the place and opportunities to participate. Such a shame that the gods were against the festival and chose last Sunday to send hoardes of demons and dragons to plague the city with fire and destruction.

I won't pretend to understand the history of Carrefoc but there's a childrens' version and an adults' with both involving vast quantities of sparklers, cartwheel fireworks and protective clothing for the participants but not for those that happen to wander out into the street at the wrong time. The festival takes place on Via Laietana in the middle of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona and that just so happens to be on the doorstep of our hotel. So, when I heard explosions outside and glimpsed a dragon going past I had to run outside to be coated in sparkler sparks.

The kids version started around 6:30pm with kids dressed as demons in horns and capes running round with poles covered in sparklers and catherine wheels shooting out sparks into the crowds, troops of drummers making a right racket to keep the spirits high. Luckily, adults were in charge of the fireworks but it was slightly disconcerting to see four and five year olds running round with these mad poles full of fireworks, most of which ended in the crowds. Health and safety would be worried!

Dragons and the odd devil spouted sparks at everyone and moved slowly up the street to the sound of drumming and cheers and general fireworks noises. They moved up to the gates of hell and then the adults emerged from the gates travelling in the other direction, down to the sea. The adults brought on fire-griffins and sea-monsters and I got covered in sparks from a mad green dragon. A dragon breathed on me!

The adults version was a bit more direct and energetic, with people with fireworks on staffs aimed directly into the crowds, covering us in sparks. Ouch! So at that point we decided it was time for dinner and sloped off into the security of the Barri Gotic to find a restaurant for food. And then the terror began as the drums approached and got closer and closer… and then turned off down another street and we were safe!

By the time we got back to Via Laietana most of the parade was over, just a last opportunity to be covered in sparks as the last dragon went past. We went up to the roof of the hotel to watch the parade vanish towards the sea with the clean-up trucks following on behind.

And here's what was left in the road at the end of the evening...

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