Festivals in Mallorca are a considerably more boisterous affair than our more reserved British fetes with their Maypoles and cream teas.
I thought the Olympic opening ceremony was an inspiring tribute to all the things that have united our Kingdom and made Britian Great. But, based on the Correfoc (fire run) in the Mallorca beach resort of Santa Ponsa that I visited on Friday, I do feel that if the Spanish ever win the Games they will put on a show few will ever forget.
The fire run is a traditional Catalan celebration that these day takes place during nearly all festivals in Mallorca, this one was part of the Fiesta Rei en Jaime. There's really very little to connect Mallorca's King who conquered the Moors in 1229 to these firey celebrations but it's easy to see why it's so popular. A group of locals dressed as devils and demons follow Lucifer himself as he makes his way through town. They move in procession to the sound of drums and as they dance they set of fireworks and flares, breath fire and cavort lustily with anyone they can get near.
It's like a mixture of Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes night but rather than spectators being asked to remain at a safe distance and all fire works being kept in and old biscuit tin people are encouraged to dance through the showering sparks and bangers are thrown at the feet of spectators. Whilst the fires burn the locals dance in the flickering light heads covered with hoodies, faces wrapped in scarves for protection. But this is not a riot in Croydon, it's a family event!
In Santa Ponsa the procession made it's way along the beach front. A tall devil on a leash led the demons followed by a bastardised bike rigged with skulls and flames. The other devils danced behind the Prince of Darkness breathing fire and scaring tourists. When they reached the end of the promenade the drummers lined up and the demons went to work setting of flares and fire works and dancing through the sparks.
The correfoc is an event that almost has to be seen to be believed. Like the running of the bulls in Pampalona and Seville or the Spanish human towers the emphasis in the festivals here in Mallorca is on spectacle and not health and safety. By the end of the night my ears were ringing, my hair and clothes had the industrial wiff of paraffin about them and there were several little marks on my bare arms from the hot sparks. I'd be surprised if you'd even be allowed to have a party like this in the UK, so if you're coming to Mallorca make sure you don't miss the next one just remember to wear long sleeves and a hat. You might not need safety clothing at a Morris dancers meeting but then you won't see a nine foot demon breathing fire either.
Find the next Correfoc and other up-coming events in Mallorca in our What's On Calendar.