Barcelona’s annual La Mercè is a celebration of Catalunyan culture and features a lot of interesting creatures. In addition to the primary gegantes and other traditional characters (introduced last week in opening parade of the La Mercè), there is a separate cast of dragons and fire beasts, dracs i bèsties de foc, who have their own event better known as the passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc, or “walk of the dragons and fire beasts.”
Given my pretty loose grasp of Catalan, I wasn’t sure I understood the program for the evening. There were two parades listed, inici and final, but only after the last one could I confirm the following:
Unlike my first parade experience, the dragons and fire beast parade starts at Barcelona’s city hall, Ajuntament de Barcelona, cuts through the crowd in Plaça de Sant Jaume, then winds through the streets of Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic, making its way back to Plaça de Sant Jaume to do it all over again.
The crowds are packed in tight, but ready to spring out of the way of a particularly sparkly fire beast, or if one of the many samba bands accompanying the beasts needs a wider berth.
In fact, throughout La Mercè, the crowds took on an organic quality, everyone just seemed to know what to do to keep the fun going. Fun for the whole family, too. Children are an important part of the festivities, marching along with their sparklers.
Unlike the fire run, correfoc, which takes place on the last night of the festival, the dragon and fire beast parade is safe and fun, with no special precautions required. Just be prepared for sparkler dust or being caught in the line of fire of a confetti cannon! Seriously.