La Merce Festival is supposed to celebrate the Virgin Mary, but at times it looks more like a homage to Baalzebub, no more so than at Les Bèsties de Foc Surten al Carrer (The Beasts of Fire Go Out) Parade.
The advice to spectators is to cover up, wear a hat and a scarf (to cover your face) and long sleeves. Synthetics are a no no. This is a clue to what is going to happen.
Fire spitting dragons, Fire Devils and troupes of drummer emerge from the "gates of hell" at the top of Via Laietan, and parade to the Consolat de Mar. Les Bèsties de Foc Surten al Carrer is the night when the devils and dragons are really let off the leash.
The fireworks seem stronger and longer lasting than at other events, the Devils break ranks, and charge the crowd, sending the masked onlookers scattering and tumbling as the gunpowder smoke and drumming fills the air.
The Dragons spray the skies and the ground with torrents of flames and sparks, in which the brave, stupid and drunk dance like dervishes.