I wrote this at the beginning of October but never got around to posting it since I was busy finishing a paper and getting ready to go to Greece. Now I’m home and no longer writing a paper so here it is 🙂
Well, I guess I’m now recovered from the Mercé festivities. I managed to catch a few of the cultural events during the day and we were out every night to take in a concert or two. By my count there were at least eight stages around the city hosting free evening concerts, some as part of the parrallel BAM festival and some just hosted by the Mercé.
Of the cultural events the best I saw were the Castells and the Correfoc, two events that would never occur in North America for liabilty reasons. Plaça Jamue was filled to capacity to catch a glimpse of this event where regional teams literally climb up each other’s backs to form pyramidal towers of different shapes. Typically the person on top is a small child, I’d guess about 4 or 5 years old, they seem to be the only ones who wear helmets. I feel somewhat less entitled to call myself a climber after seeing this.
The correfoc on the other hand is a firework fuelled display that sees people dressed in ski goggles and bandanas running though a parade of people carrying spinning fireworks. We got stuck near the beginning of the route and missed much of the craziness as we were heading off to see Belle and Sebastian up town. We did take a little video so you can sort of get the idea what was to come.
Another highlight was a chance viewing of a Pakistani artist in Plaça Angel in front of the MACBA. There is a large Pakistani population in Barcelona and the square was packed full of men pulling out their best bhangra-esque moves. Pakistani women were a minority in this audience which made this sharval kameez clad group stand out all the more.
Despite our joint prejudice against fireworks (hello Symphony of Fire) booted it across town to catch the closing event, fireworks set to music. By the time we arrived the 500m road was so full of people that it was impossible to get across it and the crowd spilled from Avinguda de la Reina Maria Crsitina into the closed Plaça Espanya. To my surprise it was really enjoyable. We bought a couple beers from the ever present “cerveza/beer” men and intermittently watched the crowd and the fireworks. The rest of the photos can be seen here.
The cost of this type of event must be staggering considering that aside form a few €2 per question information booths the entire weekend was free. Considering the austerity measures that Spain is facing and the general strike and small riot that happened the following week it’s kind of mental to think how much was spent on essentially a massive street party. Unlike Canada, cultural events are obviously not the first things to be cut from government spending.