I haven’t posted in a while because we have had break, then a few days of class, then break again, but our breaks have been breaks from school, not activities!
I’ll start off by saying that the Las Fallas festival that takes place in Valencia (and that Valencia is famous for) is impossible to describe without experiencing if for yourself. Our professors and administrators tried time and time again to explain it to us students, but it’s impossible.
Basically, the festival began as a welcoming of spring, ending on the day of St. Joseph where the community members burned all of their old things as fertilizer for the spring crops. This developed into parading through the streets and receiving things like old clothes from neighbors and making figures (like political figures etc.) to burn.
This grew and grew turning into each neighborhood making their own ninot, or paper mache sculpture, to display in the streets during las fallas week. Then, it turned into an absolute fiesta!
The previously mentioned Mascletà occurs everyday at 2pm, streets are closed to traffic, bus routes change, people are dressed in traditional Valencian clothing, parties don’t stop until 4am, 5am, 6am, and everyone is woken up again at 8am with the desperta.
Valencia is a completely different city.
Pictured below: Ninot, closed street, castillos de fuegos artificiales at 1:30am.
Honestly one of my absolute favorite parts of fallas was the food! Buñuelos y chocolate, Buñuelos de calabaza/pumpkin y chocolate, and churros con chocolate are where it’s at. (Buñuelos are a fritter type thing, and the hot chocolate is like melted chocolate with a teaspoon of milk)
I got to enjoy the experience with my intercambio, or exchange partner, who is learning English at the University of Valencia.
There are probably 50 or more bands running around the streets getting people exited for fallas and one of my intercabio’s friends is the leader of one of said bands, so we followed them around for a little while. They played traditional songs, newer songs, and even interactive songs where they tell you to lay in the middle of the road (which you can because it’s fallas)
We also saw a light show which featured a street covered in lights changing with the music, much like some of the Christmas light shows we have in the States. Overall, it was really nice to experience fallas with a guide who could answer questions and give inside tips on the experience.
I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do without buñuelos y chocolate…
The ofrenda is a parade of the falleras and falleros (costumed community members from each neighborhood) to a wood skeleton of the Virgin Mary placed near the Cathedral in the plaza de la virgen. They each bring flowers which then fill in the wood skeleton, making one huge flowered statue. This was beautiful to watch and took two days to complete (almost two days of nonstop parade — seriously). It was cool to see the different dresses of the women as well.
Here is the completed statue. There are also a few walls of flowers and huge arrangements that were carried from each neighborhood that sat in the plaza in addition to the Mary statue.
Saturday marks the last day of fallas, with the last Mascletà. These things get bigger and better as fallas goes on, so this was the mascletà to see. The pirotecnico (pyrotechnic) who orchestrated the whole thing is famous for a reason. The mascletà is more to be felt than seen, because everything is covered with smoke from the explosions.
It rained a little, but the photo above is a photo of the air full of stuff that was probably not the best to breath in… The area was so incredible full of people that it took forever to get out of the plaza de ayuntamiento. It was seriously insane.
A fun fact, apparently many/ almost all of Disney’s firework programmers are from Valencia. They are know all over the world for their skills with fireworks.
The last event of fallas happens Saturday night and is called the Cremà, or when they have a firework show really close to houses and buildings that then lights the ninot on fire. Everything is burned. It was so nuts and is so hard to explain now.
Here is a professional video that tires to explain fallas (that still doesn’t do it justice).
I’ll leave you with a photo (that is not mine) of the city during la cremà.