Last week I witnessed, for the first time, a week-long community festival of arts, in Gràcia, a bohemian barri of Barcelona, where independant businesses thrive within the cosy confines of narrow backstreets, & spacious, treed plaçes yield bars providing locally produced cuisine & beverages. Gràcia was established as a convent in 1626, called 'Nostra Senyora de Gràcia (Our Lady of Grace)', eventually growing into a town, which, in turn became annexed to Barcelona in 1897.
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La Festa Major de Gràcia dates back to the early 19th century & within 20 years became the most popular festival of all the local towns. It has waxed & waned in popularity over the past almost 200 years of it's existence, peaking around the end of the 19th century with almost 100 streets being decorated for the event anually. This year there were just under 20 streets decorated, each themed differently, & many more provided entertainment including theatre, film, poetry, dance, creative workshops & music. There were also many stages dotted around Gràcia between the streets & plaçes, & live music of all types, from gypsy to punk, reggae to industrial, was performed from 3pm until 2am (when djs took over) every day.
Having an old friend visit for a few days to enjoy the festival with was perfect. So I decided to leave photographing the many aspects of the event up to the numerous capable photographers out there, & just shot the Correfoc, (Catalan for 'fire-run'), which happens on the final night of the festival. The elements of the Correfoc tradition vary between the Catalonian regions. In Gràcia this year, it involved groups dressed as devils walking in procession through the streets holding 'pitchforks', to which endless amounts of fire-spitting fireworks were attached, mercilessly spraying their liquid brimstone over the crowds. Also, there were 4 groups of drummers, each fronted by an effigy of a giant mythical creature, (basilisk, cerberus, cockatrice & dragon), controlled from inside by 1 or 2 persons, which also spat fire furiously over the crowds amassed along the narrow streets, as it spun & lurched with graceless abandon. It was awesome!!!
The following slideshow contains some images I captured during the Correfoc.
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I am a freelance photographer specialising in performance arts.
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