Is there anything as thrilling as the Correfoc? Literally translated as 'fire run', it's a festivity in which people disguised as devils take to the streets with pitchforks loaded with squealing fireworks.
If you've never seen one before, the madness of it will no doubt leave you open-mouthed. Drums beat, firecrackers blast and the night sky is lit up with fountains of bright white sparks.
Thanks to having a Catalan father, I'm lucky to have been brought up experiencing the Correfoc from a young age in a medieval village in the Catalan Pyrenees. In fact the festivity was first documented in Catalonia in the 12th century but didn't take place in Mallorca until the mid 70s, when the mayor of Palma decided to spice up the festivities of San Sebastian. Nowadays Correfocs are popular on the island and are celebrated in many towns including Pollença, Alcudia, Sa Pobla, Alaró and Benissalem.
Port d'Andratx had been celebrating their Festes de La Mare Deu del Carme (12th - 19th June), and their Correfoc took place on Saturday 18th July. I was curious to see how it might compare to my own childhood experience. Surely a touristic port wouldn't be able to recreate the same terrifying yet exciting experience of an isolated medieval village? Surely the battle of good versus evil would feel diluted?
As soon as the first firecracker went off at 10pm, I felt a shiver of anticipation. Crowds gathered on the main street where a scaffold had been set up, rigged with firecrackers. In the distance the drums could be heard and then we saw the silhouettes of horns. The demons arrived in droves. They looked like they had climbed out of hell, ragged and dirty and ready to reek havoc. I lost count of the times they made me jump!
It was an hour of flames, fireworks and deafening bangs. Every time you thought you'd seen it all, the demons would appear with some new crazy contraption to excite the crowds. Their designs were post apocalyptic. Two demons stepped out wearing huge metal wings, another two rode a devilish bike. Towards the end they reeled out this huge spinning wheel and lit it up. The explosion of fireworks sent the crowds running for cover. The devils came together under the scaffold and with their pitchforks they set every last firework and firecracker alight. The sparks grew so big that for a moment it was as light as day.
Although this festivity looks like a health & safety joke, all the demons are fully trained and there are firemen watching in the wings. Don't bring little children though, as they'll be terrified. In fact, so will some adults. My first experience of a Correfoc in Mallorca was exhilarating and I'll be keeping my eye out for more programmed in the future!
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