The Fallas Valencia fiesta is one of the crazy Spanish traditions and festivals that we are really keen to experience for ourselves. Stunning and intricately designed statues are designed, built and then literally set fire to, in the streets.
How crazy is that?
I’ve heard the rumours about Valencian politicians so-called “burning money”, but there is no secrecy to this festival. It takes place in full public view.
As we have not yet managed to visit the Valencia Fallas for ourselves, we have invited the lovely Sarah from My Destination Alicante to tell us little more about this fiery tradition.
Over to you Sarah. Tell is what this crazy festival all about …
Valencia is a noisy city at the best of times, but the bar is raised even further during the fiery Fallas Valencia Fiesta in March.
For a few days leading up to St Joseph’s Day, on March 19th, the streets come alive with satirical, colourful statues standing several storeys high. Some are poking fun at celebrities and politicians, others look like gigantic cartoon characters while a few will be making a political statement.
These papier-mâché statues take all year to build and cost €100,000 or more. But, come St Joseph’s Day, they will be set alight with just a pile of ashes remaining. Thousands of spectators gather as each statue is burnt in turn.
The ‘elf and safety brigade in the UK would be having a blue fit by now. Not only are these giant statues set on fire close to thousands of revellers and near to high-rise buildings, the ceremony also takes place in the middle of the night.
It’s a fabulous fiesta and a great money spinner as tourists head to Valencia each year to enjoy a walk around the statues, called ninots, to stop off at a few bars for a quick refreshment and dance along to the bands leading the parades.
The women are dressed in elaborately-embroidered dresses with hairpieces which look similar to Princess Leia’s hairdo in Star Wars. The dresses are very heavy and the women – and little girls – wear them from morning to night during the fiesta.
Another wonderful part to the fiesta is the mascleta. Twice a day, thousands crowd into the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (town hall square) to see and hear one of the most important events of the fallas.
It’s an incredible show of firecrackers which are let off in sequence to make a thunderous noise, together with the powerful smell of gunpowder and smoke filling the square. It can reach 130 decibels or more with the whole square seeming to vibrant. The windows of nearby buildings can certainly be seen to be shaking.
The fiesta heralds the start of Spring. It hails from humble beginnings in the Middle Ages when the carpenters burned off old bits of wood and furniture during their Spring cleaning. They then started to carve little statues and dress up the sticks before burning them. The statues became bigger and better to turn into the fun festival we know today climaxing on St Joseph’s Day, the patron saint of carpenters.
Valencia is the best place to see the fallas fiesta but other towns also take part including Gandia, Denia and Benidorm.
Sarah Farrell is a journalist living in the Alicante region of Spain. She also runs the My Destination Alicante – www.mydestination.com/alicante – online travel guide and takes HD 360º virtual tours for Business Streetview to be included on Google Maps.
Graham, our colleague at Spanish-Property.net sent us these great pics from the 2015 Fallas Valencia. Which one is your favourite?
Here is a great video from this year’s Fallas that was posted on our Facebook Page 🙂
If you have a local festival near you that you’d like to share with us,
please get in touch and let us share your story 🙂
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