Photo Scoop (no. 14): Wild San Juan Festival


Wild San Juan Festival, The Correfoc

By Nancy Todd

Bonfires blaze all night on plazas and beaches.  Devils run with long poles spewing fire and dance to the sound of drums.  Parades sporadically clomp down the streets with dragons and treacherous creatures.  All this to celebrate the summer soltice, the longest day of the year.  With its pagan roots, traditions vary according to locale.   Scraps of paper with one’s negative thoughts are burned.  Jumping over the fire three times is said to bring a good harvest, whatever your harvest may be.  Or it is used as a cleansing.  Fireworks, music, and food.  Firecrackers crack all through the city and in Barcelona you can hear them for three weeks.  And that is a pain in the ear.  Dates vary from June 20 – 23.

Long prongs on the animals as seen on the animals mouth,  contain explosive material.  They are lit, then animals are carried by a person underneath, swaying down the streets.

Smoke fills the air.  People cough.  Onlookers lunge toward the sparks, taunting the wild creatures daring to be touched by the fire.

Red faced, and intense men light their devil’s forks.  Sparks blast forth, men twirling, dancing and taunting the crowd.

Parades erupt spordically around the cities.  Just hang out at night until you see one.  There are no specific times and if there were, it is Spain and parades would be late anyway.

Earnest drumming bands are usually comprised of teens.  You may hear an occaisional horn.  And, it is very noisy!

I have no idea what this creature is or what the boobs are to represent.  Spain continues to surprise.

Animals are made of paper mache and often 1 1/5 to 2 stories high and people carry the figures on their shoulders.

Swaying, swaggering, and darting into the screaming crowds, the animals movements are unpredictable.

Emergency rooms are filled during the night of the parades.  Onlookers wear hoodies, helmets, goggles, and all kinds of head gear.

I should have had a hoodie but didn’t and couldn’t get as close to the action as I wanted.  The sparks from the animals are like huge sparklers that spew 20 feet.

The big end.  Catch The Spain Scoop on Facebook during San Juan days for more photos of this bizarre festival in Spain.

Related Spain Scoop:  For more wild festivals:  Seville and South,    Barcelona and East,   Madrid

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  1. Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

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  2. Posted July 29, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

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  3. Posted May 11, 2013 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a while, and it’s packed with great information to share, but… This post surprises me because it looks like you are confusing Sant Joan with Correfocs.

    Bon fires and firecrackers (together with eating yummy coca!) are typical for Sant Joan, but Correfocs (the fire runs you are describing with devils and monsters), are not.
    Well, there might be some village where they do them aswell, but it’s not the rule.

    Correfocs can be seen throughout the summer during village and district Festa Major festivals, instead. The best ones in Barcelona city are those of La Mercè in September and Festa Major de Gràcia in August. Oh, and if you are interested, here you’ll learn why the Vibria has boobs: (it’s in Catalan, but I know you are studying it

  4. admin
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Thanks Marta. Yes, more correfocs during La Merce, but also some through the old city for Sant Joan. Here’s a link:

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