La Merce Barcelona and Correfoc Fire Run
La Merce is the highlight of September in Spain. The annual catalan festival, featured as “La Merce Barcelona 2015” is planned from 18th to 24th September 2015. If you are planning a trip to Spain in order to enjoy the festival this year, I am writing my trip report of La Merce 2014 here. This report will get you a feel of what to expect at La Merce.
Regular readers would know that I was in Spain last year for La Merce. I purposefully delayed this trip report for one complete year to bring you this post at the right time when you need it most.
If you wish to know more about this festival of festivals, location of various venues and how I planned my trip to Barcelona, you may read our planning guide on La Merce Barcelona 2014. We recommend you to stay at TOC Hostel, if you can grab a suite or dorm bed because it is within walk-in distance of all venues of La Merce. On top of it, its a really trendy hostel.
La Merce Barcelona- “How it feels report”
Rather than a long and detailed “we did that…..we did this” type report, I bring to you a “Bang-on how it feels” report. The type of events you can afford to miss and the types you can’t. La Merce is a week-long festivals and most of us certainly can not take out the entire week out for it. When you are at Barcelona, you would obviously like to marvel at its Gaudi architecture, beaches, football museum etc. other than the festivities. So if you have to pick two days for the festival, pick the weekend i.e. Saturday and Sunday in the festival week.
Even if the detailed event schedule is unavailable, you can safely assume that main events like Parade and Correfoc are going to happen on a holiday i.e. weekend. In 2015, the main events are likely to take place on 19th and 20th September. The major events in order of their “not -to-be-missed” potential are:-
- Correfoc – Fire run
- Parade of the Fire Breathing Dragons and Beasts
- Castells – Human Pyramids
- Sardana Dancing
- Projection Show – Attend any one
Carrefoc – Fire Run at La Merce
This is the most popular event of La Merce for the travelers. Its intriguing, adventurous, dangerous, funny, unique and awesome. If you are going to be there at La Merce, make sure you don’t miss this. It starts from one end of the road called Via Laietana and finishes at the seaward end of the road, where all the fire is doused. And yes, you have to actually “run in the fire”. Please make sure you reach at least an hour prior to the event so that you can get a good place at the street, where the opening celebration of Correfoc is held. They design a gate full or fireworks, which spits fire in all angles. Later various teams come out from the gate. Here’s a video of opening ceremony
Don’t be disappointed even if you are not able to find a great viewing place for opening ceremony because of the crowd. The main event of “Fire Run” is held over the entire road “Via Laietana” where various teams sequentially parade from one end to other. The event goes for more than three hours and you will surely have more than your share of fun. Each parade team consist of three groups. he first video in the blog showed the first team – The Devils.
This team consists of people dressed in devil-like attires holding Tridents and fire-spitting sticks. They will have “fire spirals” fitted on the top of the sticks. So when they light it up, it becomes like an umbrella spitting sparkles. So, you have to just go as near to the person holding the stick and dance alongside him. The nearer you are to the center of the umbrella, the safer you are from fire sparkles. If you are not the adventurous kind and standing on the sides and simply watching the event, there are few people in this team, which hold a fire spitting sticks which creates a “fire rain”. So they will dance around and come near to the ” standing and watching at ease” kind people and get you the feel of fire rain.
After the first part of the team, comes their fire breathing dragon, which spits the fire sparkles. the team will periodically light them up and create a fire rain over the spectators.
The third part of the team are the drummers and dancers. This one is really lovely and if you have been standing at the sides because of fire, this is the time you can come to the center of street and dance along with the teams.
Like I said earlier, there are many teams one after the other in the parade. You can be at one place and enjoy each one of them or you can simply walk the road with the one you like the most.
The people at Carrefoc are really friendly and sporty. please don’t be afraid of the fire if you have decided to be at Carrefoc. The teams want you to enjoy and dance with them. To get your initial fear of crackers out, they come and spray fire at you because they know you came for this only at Carrefoc.. If you have followed the basic safety norms, you will certainly enjoy the Carrefoc
To keep the post short, I am going to cover only Carrefoc in this post and will be writing another post soon for other events.
Have you been to La Merce and participated in Correfoc? How was your experience? Has this post got you excited about the event? Did this post inspire you to add “La Merce” in your bucket list. Did you like the videos of the event? Have you got specific queries on La Merce? Let me know more on this through comments below.