Girona Sant Narcís Festival-Correfoc

The CorreFoc is a feature of Girona’s annual city festival known as the St Narcis Festival in late October. It’s several days of fun, festivities, various cultural activities and the mayhem that’s Correfoc. Loosely translated into ‘fire-runs’ but charmingly referred to as ‘running the devil out of Girona’. They pop up in various forms in many Catalan and Valencian festivals. Participants dress as devils and light fireworks which are fixed onto devil’s pitchforks. Spectators also follow them closely, maybe too closely.

Visitors and onlookers might like to reinterpret that as something along the lines of ‘I’d better get out of the way of this ensemble of amateur arsonists’. No one it seems throughout the whole spectacle has probably ever heard of the ‘Firework Safety Code’ that we abide by when messing around with fireworks in the UK.

An unmissable event in my opinion, it starts late, around 10pm within the confines of the old town, and charts a route that eventually ends up near the university buildings (the old part). We usually catch it somewhere just after the starting point, like near the steps of the old convent La Merce. Street lights are extinguished, which signals the beginning. As part of the large participant/spectator entourage, drummers start a slow rhythmic beat. Also in a pyrotechnic tandem joined by loud bangs, and red and white flashes.

Seeing this marauding band approaching you along the dark, narrow, cobbled alleys shrouded in a red haze is quite a sight. It’s also wise to move away, to retreat up the steps of La Merce to a safer vantage point. Thinking we were okay up here we were joined by this guy in green.

The official participants are dressed in various devil-themed overalls, masks, headgear and goggles, for obvious protection from the sparks and the smoke. A necessity but with such little attention to the safety of the constant whirring fireworks, bangs and booms makes it look wholly unorganised and unsafe. Here are another two characters who look like they’re enjoying themselves.

This riotous smoke-filled rabble continued on their merry way for at least another 45 minutes. Long after passing, the old town alleyways still reverberate and echo to their distant sounds.