Have you ever seen a movie with a medieval festival scene? Then you know the feeling. In the middle of the movie you just find yourself willing to join the celebration. It seems so much fun. Maybe, barbaric at some point, but exciting. The music, the fire, the crowd. All these combined awaken your hidden primitive instincts. And you can’t help, but dance to the beat of the drums or to the sounds of a medieval horn.
Don’t worry. All of these feelings can be experienced nowadays. It is time to attend the Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain. It is a traditional celebration that continues for a whole week in the commemoration of Saint Joseph. The husband of Mary, mother of Jesus, but the festival is not a simple chaos and mess (though sometimes it may seem like one).
The Fallas festival has been added to the UNESCO’s cultural heritage of humanity list. So, you are not simply having a fun time, you are also being enriched culturally. Sounds perfect, right?
It is a celebration that the city gets prepared for throughout the whole year. Each neighborhood of Valencia has a special group of people, the Casal faller. They work all year long hosting parties and dinners, raising money for the festival. Each Casal faller creates a construction, a falla, which will be burnt during the celebration.
The Fallas continues for five days and nights. It starts on the 15th of March and ends on the 19th. A lot of time beforehand is spent by the Casal fallers preparing their ninots. They are puppets or dolls. During the four days of the gigantic party each Casal faller takes it’s ninot to the parade and after that it is placed in a special spot in a street of the neighborhood.
Each monument is full of firecrackers. The theme for the creations is picked before-hand. They are usually satirical and of current interest. Often the dolls are quite provocative. During the previous years the Fallas included such characters as Lady Gaga, Barack Obama, George Bush, Shrek etc.
The participants of the Fallas prefer to be more traditional. They dress in medieval historical costumes and play traditional musical instruments. Many even have their own traditional bands.
The Festival Schedule
Each day begins at 8 a.m. with ‘the wake up call’. Bands begin marching down every street playing loud music. The fallers accompany the musicians. They throw firecrackers wherever they go. Good morning!
Every day at 2 p.m. a coordinated firework and firecracker show takes place. It is also a competition for the pyrotechnicians. The one who wins will be providing the final firework show.
Each night there are firework displays in the riverbed. A magnificent sight! The shows tend to get bigger and bigger, with the grand finale on 18th of March.
During the last night all of the fallas are burnt. It is a night of hundreds of bonfires. No wonder It is known as ‘the Burning’. Now it makes sense why the fallas are named so, as they mean ‘torches’. But one of the creations can escape the fire. The best ninot is picked out by the jury. He is declared the winner and will become a city’s attraction.
Important Information about The Las Fallas Festival:
Celebrations and different events start in Valencia from the 1st of March. There are also plenty of events for the kids. Of course, the festival is a great place to try tradi-tional Spanish dishes. Delicious paella and special sandwiches with white sausage and haba beans, for example. For the one’s with a sweet tooth – the Fallas will become heaven on Earth. Traditional churros and donuts without a hole are sold with a chocolate dip accompanying them.
During the festival season Valencia is overcrowded. That’s why try to think ahead and book your hotel and restaurants. Many streets become pedestrian during the celebration, so don’t bother looking for a car or some kind of public transport.
Are you ready to welcome Spring the best way possible? Welcome to the Fallas festi-val!