Devils and Demons in Valencia

correfoc Gran Feria de Valencia

Devils spotted dancing on the streets of Valencia!

Valencia on fire!

‘Fire runs’ is a literal translation for Correfocs. the correfoc, a group of individuals will dress as devils and light up fireworks – fixed on devil’s pitchforks or strung above the route and is a street show present in many festivals in Valencia and Catalunya. The ‘devils’ dance to the sound of a rhythmic drum group while they are on fire and run around crowds of spectators. Some spectators that participate, attempt to get as close as possible to the devils, running with the fire. Other spectators will watch from “safe” distances, rapidly retreating as necessary.

This medieval practice, known as Ball de Diables evolved into correfoc, a popular performance where Good and Evil come head-to-head in a spectacular way. A truly impressive, traditional pyrotechnical display.

What is it?

The correfoc, is a type of open-air/street performance where people dress as devils and other monstrous creatures that carry pitchforks and set off fireworks in the crowd. It is relatively safe although it sounds like a health and safety nightmare. Normally, those who come to watch the correfoc usually come prepared with clothing to protect themselves from any eventual burns. And they need all the protection they can get as those participating in the correfoc are expected to get as close as possible to the evil creatures and ‘run with the fire.’

The correfocs come in all shapes and sizes, and each town may have its own customs and traditions about how the correfoc is carried out. Usually, each town will have its own collection of monstrous creations that reappear year after year to the delight (or fright) of the local participants. In larger correfocs, there is usually a central float from which the fireworks are distributed and which serves as the central base for the devils. In smaller correfocs, each devil has their own supply of fireworks and disperses them themselves through the crowd as they wish.

How did it get started?

The ‘Ball de Diables’ is one of the most deeply rooted traditions initially in Catalonia, and later in the Valencian Community and Balearic Islands where it is called “Correfocs”.

This spectacle is believed to have emerged as a spontaneous interaction between spectators and participants in the traditional Ball de Diables or ‘Devil Dances.’ This theatrical performance saw performers dressed as devils recreate the duel between Good and Evil in a spectacular pyrotechnic performance involving many fireworks.

When can I watch it?

The correfoc comes in many forms. Some are simple parades using fireworks and effigies of the devil.

In Valencia, it is to celebrate the closing of la Gran Fira de València held in July. In Sitges, it is common for a crowd to line a street, while participants run through a tunnel of fireworks. In Barcelona, it is run during the Festival of La Mercè in Barcelona. In Tarragona, it is during the Festival of Santa Tecla while in Girona, it is during the Festival of Saint Narcissus.

Although a ‘watch-only’ show where spectators stand back from the show, the smaller versions in a neighborhood or town is another great occasion to get up close and personal with the devils and monsters.

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