If you have an adventurous heart, that means the crazy, colorful, most impressive festivals all around the world are just for you and visiting Spain is the first thing you should do, as the entire country is famous for its huge public and national holidays, the biggest and most colorful ones of which take place in Valencia. The city seems to be living an eternal festival and just spending your vacation in Valencia is enough to become a participant of its full-swing celebrations.
The amazing “Las Fallas” festival in Valencia places the city several notches higher up the priority list of every globetrotter. The space age architecture seems enough for this city to be considered a tourist attraction, but all the superlatives come together at the “Festival of Fire”. This famous Spanish fiesta is celebrated in the middle of the first month of spring, from March 15-19, while all the preparations and festivities usually take longer, lasting for almost an entire month!
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Las Fallas is a unique celebration of the arrival of spring, accompanied by breathtaking lights illuminating the streets (especially flabbergasting are the lights of Calle Cuba each year), firecrackers awakening the city and majestic fireworks that announce the end of the festival. Each neighbourhood features gigantic tents in the middle of the streets, where the locals spend days and nights of joy and celebrations, preparing the national dish known as paella on huge pans, eating bunuelos and churros with hot chocolate, playing games and then organizing loud disco nights. Be prepared not to sleep a lot, and why would you like to do, when you can actually take part in all these festivities living a life like real Valencian people do!
The unique characteristic feature of this festival is making ninots and then burning them on the last day. Ninots are gigantic puppets or dolls, made from cardboard or wood or other materials and resembling well-known people from show business or political life. All this is done with a complex sarcasm, of course. Each neighborhood also demonstrates a falla infantile, which is a smaller in size ninot that doesn’t contain any satirical theme. The “dolls” are enormous up to the point several cranes move them around the city to install. Every community or neighbourhood creates its own ninots, which usually cost quite a lot of money, sometimes reaching up to $75,000 and having a height of around 20 meters! Then each year the best ninot is chosen and it’s a pride for a community to win this award. The participants also compete with each other, since each year a queen and a princess is selected from the most beautiful women and girls taking part in Las Fallas.
During the festival the city becomes a huge continuous party for five days. The streets are packed with noisemakers, who take their responsibility of waking everyone up very seriously. Actually the wakeup call known as La Despertà is at 8 am every day, when participants of the festival get out to the streets throwing firecrackers accompanied by the brass bands, this way making a huge noise to wake up the locals. It may sound confusing for many foreigners, but that’s it. You can never see so many participants, especially ladies in such fabulous dresses somewhere else. The good news for every tourist is the paella contest, which takes place in the streets, before the official beginning of the festival. Paella is a famous Valencian dish, which is prepared with every kind of ingredient on hand, but rice is the indispensable part of it.
La Mascletà is the next important stage of the event, which is an explosion of colorful fireworks and firecrackers taking place in the city center at Plaza del Ayuntamiento at 2:00 pm every day throughout the festival. The sound of La Mascletà is so high that even from afar you can hear it! The Fallera Mayor makes an appearance in the balcony of the City Hall every day, announcing the start of the crazy fireworks, which literally shakes the ground, while looking beautiful in the air.
March 17 and 18 are especially important days during the entire festival, when men, women and children dress up in beautiful traditional costumes featuring heavy embroidery, jacquard and fine fabrics, and march to Plaza de Virgen accompanied with the brass bands to devote their flowers to the huge 14-meter tall wooden statue to Saint Mary standing there, also “dressing” her in red and white flowers.
The end of the festival is March 19 characterized with the burning of the figurines, which is known as La Cremà. The dramatic aspect of all this is the fact that the work done often takes several months, but they are destroyed within a few minutes without a hint of regret. At 10:00 pm, all the ninots regardless of their size and price get burnt, and the process is accompanied by huge fireworks. Usually, the ninots located in the city center get burnt close to the midnight, while those in small neighborhoods are burnt a little earlier, for the participants have to go to bed earlier to get ready for an ordinary working day following their favorite festivities. Las Fallas come to an end, but a new day and a new life comes from the very next day, gathering the Valencian people together to plan their upcoming Fallas with the same never ending enthusiasm.
The whimsical museum of Las Fallas is also worth visiting. Interestingly, it houses a chronologically arranged collection of ninots from every year and thus represents the evolution of the materials and the design. Whether you take part in the festivities or unfortunately miss them, it’s always interesting to visit the museum to learn the history of Las Fallas.
It’s better to arrange the accommodation beforehand, because the growing popularity of the fiesta results in the shortage of accommodation options. However there are still people who plan to view the festival only for a few hours and then have a rest in their hotel rooms. This means they should avoid staying at the centre, in case they didn’t plan to devote all their time to the festival itself. Besides the festival there is so much, which is considered to be a tourist attraction. That is to say you’ll never run out of things to see or to do here.
If you are a lover of fun festivals, you cannot remain indifferent towards Las Fallas. It will be a lifetime experience, which makes an indelible impression on everyone.