SO WHAT IS THIS FALLAS THING?
We all know about the Notting Hill Carnival, the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Rio and we ‘west cunree folk’ adore our very own Somerset carnival each year. These carnivals are absolutely great, but none of them compare to the citywide fiesta of Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain.
A typical Fallas you can happen across on many
a street corner
This event covers over 50 square miles on closed streets (you’ll need good walking shoes) and it has a two-week build up. The main fiesta lasts from the 15th of March, when the Fallas statues are placed on the streets, until the feast of St Joseph on the 19th.
THE NON-OFFICIAL EVENTS
Most of the festival occurs around 8:00 pm each night and lasts until 4:00 am in the morning. Valencian lifestyle pauses the day with afternoon siesta …and if you want to take part in Las Fallas you need it I promise you.
A typical Fallas you can happen across on many a street corner. It’s impossible to see it all. There are over 300 Fallas statues erected throughout the city, ranging from the “ninots” (small statues of about 10 feet tall) to gigantic Fallas - figures that are as tall as the buildings in the street, six stories or more. Each of these Fallas are ornately designed, intricately detailed works of art on display for only four days of public viewing.
There are three scheduled daily main events during Las Fallas but outside of these official events there is so much more happening. As you wander around the streets you’ll trip over hundreds of artisan booths, food vendors and mini parades
Each street or district has their own events; one block may have their own masculetas (colourful firecrackers), while another is having a flower presentation to their street’s saint.
It seems to me that every park will have displays of traditional dancing for the public to watch, and you can’t walk half a dozen yards without finding another band or DJ who will invite you to dance on the street. This blends in wonderfully with a nice cold beer and a few tapas from the street vendors nearby.
THE FOUR-DAY MAIN FIESTA
The official events start with an 8.00 am wake-up call. Brass bands begin to march down every street playing lively and very loud music. Close behind them are the Fallers, throwing large firecrackers in the street as they go. So it’s no good trying to put your head under the pillow …it won’t work.
At 2.00 pm each day there is the Masculetas (enormous colourful firecrackers). This is a huge rhythmic firecracker event held in the centre of the City. A 20-foot high fence surrounds the enormous square and huge ‘masculetas’ are hung inside it on what looks like washing lines.
Everyone gathers long before the 10 and 5 minutes warning shots are fired, and once the fifteen minutes display starts believe me you’ll need your earplugs! Approximately 350 pounds of gunpowder is used to create this sensation
At 1:00 o’clock in the morning in the beautiful park Jardin de Turia, (which was a former riverbed on the northeast side of Valencia) a stunning firework display takes place. The streetlights are turned off and for about 30 minutes the sky is filled with various sparkles, colours, streams of light and explosions to dazzle everyone present. It’s truly breath taking.
Next time in part 2 I’ll tell you about the parades, the Virgin flowers and the highlight of the whole fiesta …the burning of the Fallas. This is absolutely the night to be in town.
A night I can guarantee you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
To be continued …