Spain in-depth: Festivals

Las Fallas, Valencia

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Las Fallas, Valencia

They say that the city´s bonfires originated from wanting to burn everything old: branches of the fields and all the bad things from the past year are burnt to start the spring strong with new strength and optimism for the new harvest. Fallas Valencia. These 2 words, like also paella, go together in the minds of Spanish people. Las Fallas, due to is spectacular sculptures is probably the preferred Fiesta by Spanish children. 

Particularly in Valencia city, they say the carpenters cleaned their workshops to have them ready for the San Jose festivities and burned all the remains in big bonfires, that with time got decorated, resulting is the Valencia Fallas. 

Currently, carpenters are no longer just the architects of these structures but real sculptors who create wonderful works of art composed of cardboard and cork with a unique imagination and satire. They depict scenes of social events and politics that they want to be censored and therefore want to be burnt to ashes.

During Las Fallas, held from 15 to 19 March, with the “plantá” taking place the night of 15 to 16, many can be seen in the streets a week before (assembly process) to put on the final touches on the night of the 15th. They get to about 400 scenes, each with a children’s version and some of the larger ones can measure up to 30 meters high.

The fallas are judged depending on expectations, wit and grace and the winning one will get a ninot, which will become part of the museum ninot; a place where you can enjoy the Valencia fallas throughout the year but without the fire. 

During the 18 days of the festival, from the last Sunday in February where the proclamation is celebrated until the 18th, stunning and colorful fireworks are set off every night at 12. The last night ends with the famous “nit del foc” which is the most spectacular and is a prelude of the next night for the “Crema”.

Another event worthy of mentioning for its beauty is the offering to the Virgin that takes place on 17th and 18th of March where the falleros and falleras are dressed in their best costumes and parade through the city streets accompanied by their own band to pay tribute to their patron saint – the Virgin of the Helpless. When they arrive in front of the Basilica, the falleras offer a bouquet of flowers that are carefully placed on the mantle of the Virgin.

We cannot forget the Valencian people´s favourite time of the year which consists of fireworks and firecrackers, and the “mascletá” held at 2 every day in the afternoon in the town hall square.  During the 19 days of the celebration one witnesses an incredible show of noise, smoke, powder and rhythms that lasts for 6 or 7 minutes with different pyrotechnics – making the earth move under your feet.

On March 19 during the festivities of San José, the “Crema” takes places which is the ignition of the Valencia fallas and it is the point where you reach the saddest moment of the celebration; all the work from one year is reduced to ashes meaning the end of the festivities.

There are no Valencia fallas without music and popular bands from each neighborhood to enliven the party; they are part of the cheerful and open nature of Valencian. The numerous auditoriums and theaters are a fine example of their passion for music – the Palau de la Música and the Palau brand of the Arts which is home to the Orchestra of Valencia.

For those who prefer outdoor concerts, there is the Viveros Gardens Fallas concerts which delight viewers for several days with the latest national and international music.

As for food, paella and Valencia water (cava, orange juice, vodka and gin) are the kings of the party. For dessert or as a snack you can get the typical chocolate pumpkin fritters.

Light, passion and noise define Las Fallas, a festival with a deep Mediterranean root. As it is also the case of La Tomatina also in the province of Valencia, it seems valencianos really enjoy to party!