Published on March 5, 2012 | by Daniela0
Valencia events: Las Fallas, a warm welcome to spring!
Spain is a wonderful country even because its regular celebrations make it the ultimate partying place in Europe. Chances are that visiting Spain you will get involved in a celebration at any time of the year. If March is the period of your holidays, don’t miss out Valencia’s Fallas.
There are several events in the world aiming to say goodbye to the winter and welcome the spring. In Valencia, this festival is called Las Fallas, and is the second biggest festival in Spain after the Sanfermines in Pamplona. From a Christian perspective, this is an annual event that celebrates the feast of Saint Joseph, but from a… larger perspective, it is – literally – a “Festival of Fire” celebrated with elaborate floats, bonfires, fireworks, food, and dancing, and is attended by millions of people every year.
This year, Las Fallas will run from March 15 to 19. As every year, the Festival revolves around these huge cardboard floats representing gigantic figures that often exceed 20 meters height. The almost 400 Fallas monuments are traditionally built up on the night between March 14 and 15 and then, by the 16, when all Fallas are completed, they are spread all over the city for the festive week. The main theme or issue is usually satiric, although some encapsulate entire scenes from cartoons and fairytales using sets of dwarf-sized figures called Ninots.
The focus turns to religion on the following two days, with a Catholic procession known as La Ofrenda. Saturday March 17, the “Flowers Offer to Our Lady of the Forsaken” starts, and dozens of Falleras in their traditional costumes offer flower garlands to the Virgin, covering the body of a statue which is about 14 meters height. Sunday March 18 they follow the same way at the same time.
All these happenings are punctuated by another of the main elements of this Valencian Festival: pyrotechnic shows. Occurring three times daily, the fireworks kick off with an 8am display known as la Despertà. Bands march down the main streets of the town and firecrackers are burned as peppy music rents the air.
At 2 pm it’s time for La Mascletà, which takes place in the different neighborhoods of the city starting from March 1st – this is a run up to the main event held on March 19 at Plaça de l’Ajuntament. Mascletàs are very appreciated by locals, but are often not very understood by tourists, who rather consider them only a very noisy, invisible firecrackers show. However, we suggest you should be next to the place where they explode, because it is not about seeing, but rather feeling and hearing.
Perhaps the most special of the three is El Castillo, the midnight fireworks display that reaches its height on the final night of the festival, dubbed la Nit del Foc, or “night of fire”.
Finally, the climax of Las Fallas is La Cremà, the night when each of the Fallas monuments is set alight between 10pm and 1am, honouring Saint Joseph. This is a unique experience because it symbolizes the end of Fallas 2012 festival and the beginning of next Fallas.
Photo by ramonbaile