El Correfoc de La Merce 2011


Close to the end of September, Barcelona celebrates its yearly festival  in honor of  La Merce, the Patron Saint of Barcelona. The festival lasts for 4 full days and the streets of Barcelona will be filled with events, parades, concerts and most obviously, lots of people. 
One of the most exciting festivities during La Merce festival are the fire runs 'correfoc' which takes place in the dusk. I don't know much about the history of this tradition, but the idea of fire run is as follows: kids and adults running down the streets dressed up as devils and holding sticks with spraying fireworks. There are usually 2 correfocs happening at night. The so called "adult" fire run takes place after the "junior" Correfoc... and the main difference between these two is that during the adult event crowds are expected to be sprayed with flames...so in other words it is considered more dangerous and kids should stay at home.
Yesterday, was my first experience in the fire rain and I have to say that it was somewhat scary. Even if we attended the kid version of the party...I was still a bit worried to get my hair in flames and end up with a burnt camera. The best way to describe this event is to see it in your own eyes, and therefore I recommend you to have a look at this video after you've seen my pictures below...
Clearly such party needed lots of preparations as people cannot simply show up and start shooting fireworks. First off, one of the biggest streets of Barcelona was closed for traffic and most people were well prepared by wearing hats and scarfs for protection. Some people, like myself however didn't have any idea what sort of activity this was going to be and clearly didn't even realise that the protection would be needed...
As the Correfoc was a bit behind schedule, especially kids were inpatient to get the fire started. I have to say that once I started hearing the drums getting louder and the air getting filled with sulphur I realised that this party was a bit different that I expected. In fact, some of the photos could as well be from a war zone instead of a festival grounds. Despite the chaos which went through for good half an hour, I got a chance to capture some photos of this somewhat sparkly tradition.
As you can imagine, taking photos wasn't that easy and clearly I wasn't the only to struggle with their cameras. It was actually hilarious to try to get pictures while watching out for running people and avoiding fire cracks. In the end I wore my massive sunglasses and wrapped my head around my boyfriends sweater. Wish someone could have filmed me during this...At least I could take shots of few funny guys who were struggling with their photos! (Especially the guy with the tripod)
In the end I have to say it was a great experience. I would say something between Halloween and New Years Eve. If I ever have a chance to attend such event again, I am sure to do it at night time and with proper clothing and a hat.

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