Las Fallas is a spring festival that takes place every year from March 15 to 19. Strictly speaking, even until March 20, because in the morning hours of this day, the final event takes place. The event happens in the Spanish city of Valencia, which is in a festive mood during these five days.
The organizers do everything they can to ensure that locals and guests can enjoy themselves during these five days and experience something unique. Thus, the entire city centre is closed to cars.
The festival is named after and recognized by large papier-mâché figures. They are called the Fallas and stand in every major square during this time. At the end of the festival, the figures are burned. But before that, there is a big party.
The custom of Las Fallas dates back to the 18th century. It is believed that at the beginning of spring, the carpenters and joiners of Valencia burned the no longer needed holders for the candles and open lamps that were in use at the time. This took place centrally in the squares of the city. Later, the day for the burning was set on St. Joseph's Day, March 19.
It is important to know that St. Joseph is the patron saint of all carpenters in Spain. The holders soon became straw dolls. At the beginning of the 20th century, straw dolls turned into figures made of papier-mâché. These were erected into unique works of art.
If you visit Las Fallas, you will encounter figures, some of which are as tall as houses. Their value is often up to 100,000 Euros. Today, the figures are made of wood, plaster and cardboard. Some artists work on a falla for up to a year.
The elaborately decorated figurines have a special theme every year. Accordingly, the figures are made with great attention to detail. Las Fallas is of course a celebration for the whole family. The program naturally also includes children's fallas. These often depict fairy tales, and in more recent times also comics. Las Fallas also includes a prize, which is awarded for the best falla and the best children's falla, as well as for the best individual figure.
The fallas are built by special fallas associations. These are located in all districts of Valencia. This is very important because each club builds its special falla in the square of its neighborhood. The falla is presented by the members of the association who wear traditional costumes.
The classic Las Fallas includes not only figures but also fireworks. From March 1, there will be daily firecrackers in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento at 2 PM called "mascletá". In addition, there are fireworks every day from March 15 to 17 between midnight and 1:30 AM. They are held on the banks of the river Turia. On March 18, the "Nit del Foc" (The Night of Fire) takes place at 2 AM. This is the culmination of the fireworks days and is a special kind of fireworks show.
The pyrotechnicians, who are celebrated like pop stars in Spain, have their own parade on the afternoon of March 19.
One of the classic program items of Las Fallas is the Ofrena de Flores, the flower parade. It takes place on March 17 and 18 and is held in honour of the city's patron saint. The patron saint of Valencia is the Virgen de los Desamparados (Virgin of the Defenceless). More than 100,000 people participate in the flower parade every year. The women and girls wear colourful, beautiful dresses, mostly made of silk and brocade. The hairstyle of girls and women is striking. The hair is pinned up in a classic hairstyle reminiscent of a snail. The men and the boys dress in traditional suits.
It is also a tradition that the women wear a bouquet of flowers in the parade. This must be of one colour. The flower parade ends at the Plaza de la Virgen, right next to the cathedral. Here is the wooden statue of the Holy Virgin. From the bouquets of flowers, a so-called Madonna dress is made for the patron saint. Music is an integral part of the parade. This is provided by numerous bands, which play either Spanish songs or songs specific to the region.
At the end of Las Fallas, on the night of March 20, all Papier-mâché figures are ceremoniously handed over to the fire. The ritual starts at 10 PM. First, all the children's Fallas are burned. Half an hour later, the winners of the children's Falla category are burned. Around midnight, almost all the large Fallas are also lit. The best Falla gets a place of honour and is burned at 00:30.
You can imagine what a spectacle this is. Of course, such a big fire in a city is not done without security measures. Since some of the squares are very narrow. Sometimes the houses are covered with wet clothes.
Las Fallas are long-awaited festive days in Valencia. During the March days, you can see and experience a lot here. The city is worth seeing even without the Las Fallas. It is important to see as many Fallas as possible. An absolute must is the flower parade. There are music concerts on several stages, mostly by well-known Spanish artists.
If the weather is particularly nice, you have the opportunity to have a picnic in the dry riverbed of the Turia. This is something you will definitely not forget. The great thing about Las Fallas in Valencia is, without a doubt, that this event is not so well known yet. Mostly locals and Spanish people come to the Las Fallas in Valencia. However, Still lot of people visit the city during these and hotels are quickly booked up, as spring is also a popular time to travel in Spain. It is worth planning and booking a trip to Las Fallas early.
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