Revellers, party-goers and all-round lowlifes throng the squares. Bangers and packaged explosives are hurled with great gusto around the streets in a great cacophony of sound. The personnel stagger from bar to bar, some propped against temporary wooden stanchions, or bent double, chests heaving. Great waxy faces, soon to be carbonated, leer from above you. No, it’s not a Chelsea UEFA away leg..its..LAS FALLAS!
Our correspondent in Valencia.
Spain is home to some of the world’s most over-the-top festivals and street celebrations. Don’t miss the most spectacular Fiesta of them all: the Valencia Fallas fire festival . Possibly the greatest of the pagan fire festivals of the Mediterranean, Fallas blows a vast raspberry to the outgoing winter. Begin Spring with a bang, and burn down the winter.
The Fallas street festival is very loud and very outrageous, and you have no chance of sleeping at all…it is the experience of a lifetime. Get to the heart of this superlative early spring festival and follow our guide through firecrackers and bonfires! With a history that dates from the pre-Christian age, Fallas has become one of the major Spanish festivals. Valencia turns into a big theme park where impressive monuments are erected everywhere.
Fallas are massive colourful caricatures that defy the laws of gravity, effigies of politicians, princes, popes, pops stars and punks…set up in the plazas all over the city and all set to go up in a great pagan blaze on the mad, wild nit de foc (that’s night of fire!).
In classic Spanish style, all of these pyrotechnics are also held to venerate a saint (San José – don’t let him play with matches…). Each falla is a large architectural undertaking, some take more than a year to construct, with teams of designers competing for the awards for the best fallas before seeing their work go up in blazes.
Valencia attracts some of the most unstable elements at this time of year: including the world’s most dastardly firework display designers. The noise they make will make you glad you are not sober. Driven by the euphoria, the whole city takes up the offer of a few days out, with sleep cancelled for a week or so (there will be enough days off to recover afterwards). It’s a bit like 7 Hogmanays one after the other, but with decent weather, decent football and cheap beer !
Starting beginning of March, Valencia Fallas includes a series of events, all quite extravagant, from the mascleta (thousands of bangers going off at midday in the main square, reminiscent of a full-scale coup d’etat in a medium-sized Banana Republic), to the world’s most state-of-the-art firework displays. Add to this visits to the sites and main monuments in Valencia (including the beach!), the competition for the best street lighting, la ofrenda (a huge statue of a bemused (still-) Virgin Mary covered with flowers ceremonially offered by falleros), open air concerts, bullfights, vast open air paella-eating ceremonies and much more…
There is so much to see that a good guide will be necessary. Come to our fallas tour which will culminate after midnight the 19th of March with the cremà: the burning of all the fallas.