For five days every year, the city of Barcelona turns upside into a huge party from September 20th to the 25th. In addition, the festival is a way to say goodbye to the warm summer months, and hello to the cooler months of fall and winter. It is overwhelming how much there is to see and do during La Merce, and the coordination it must take to pull everything together is incredible.
This fiery feature of La Mercè stems from 'Ball de Diables," a type of medieval street theatre. During the rule of Spanish Dictactor Franco, much of Catalan culture was banned including the Correfocs and even their native language. With Franco's death, the city of Barcelona didn't waste any time and filled the streets with fireworks and celebration once again.
"Dressed in red and black, wearing horns and masks, ‘colles de diables’ (groups of ‘devils’) dance amongst the crowds accompanied by loud music, waving sparklers, firecrackers, and roman candles, spitting fire into the crowd." (Sourec: http://www.anglophone-direct.com/Correfocs)
In addition, there are dozens of "fire beathing dragons and beasts," which spit fireworks in all direction. People love to go up and try to get a picture standing right next to one of them.
It is recommended that you wear long pants, long shirt, hat, and even goggles because you can get burned by the fireworks. As you can see in the video, people are not shy when it comes to the fireworks. This went on for over 3 hours!
At Placa de Sant Jaume, the Human Tower festival occurred around noon. Never thought I would witness this in person, let alone stand next to the formations! The teamwork, concentration, patience, coordination, and insanity needed to construct these towers is mind blowing. I saw about 9 towers get constructed, and I even witnessed one of the towers collapse. It was truly terrifying, as kids and adults were falling upwards of twenty, maybe even thirty feet. No one was seriously injured to my knowledge. They have been doing these towers for over 100 years!
(Video footage on the way)
Click on the link for a comprehensive explanation of the "Castells." I suggest watching the video at the very bottom of the page, the 2x8, it is the most difficult structure to cleanly construct. Look at the pain in the guys faces at the bottom!!! Craziness!