Fallas Festival

Fallas festival is a huge festival that occurs every year in Valencia, Spain during the month of March. The festival began as a spring cleaning ritual, where the citizens of Valencia would throw out their trash from the winter, and would burn it. In particular, the carpenters of Valencia had parots, or planks of wood used to hold candles to light their workshops in winter. These miniature bonfires soon became more than just bonfires, as the citizens of Valencia began competing to build large and beautiful fallas to burn in honor of Saint Joseph. Today, every year on March 19th is la cremà, where all of the elaborate fallas are burned at midnight.  

Events:

La Despertà

every day at 8 am is La Despertà, or the wake up call, which is intended to wake up all the revelers from the night before. Marching bands and fallers go through the streets making an incredible amount of noise with music and firecrackers.

La Mascletà
Every day at 2 pm is La Mascletà, which is a huge firework show that lasts for several minutes and is primarily dedicated to the noise of the firecrackers rather than the sights. La Mascletà is begun by the Fallera Mayor who calls out from the city hall balcony, “Senyor pirotècnic, pot començar la mascletà!”  Translation: “Mr. Pyrotechnic, you may commence the Mascletà!”

La Plantà

This is the final day for fallas to enter into the official competiton. Any fallas not completed by the end of this day are disqualified from the city wide competition. 

L’Ofrena de flors

This is a parade of flowers, with all of the casals fallers walking to the statue of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Forsaken. the statue is then decorated with all the flowers. 

 

Els Castells and La Nit del Foc

On the final nights of the fallas festival there are firework displays in the old riverbed in Valéncia. Each night is progressively grander and the last is called La Nit del Foc (the Night of Fire).

Cavalcada del Foc

On the final evening of Falles, at 7:00 pm on March 19, a parade known in Valencian as the Cavalcada del Foc (the Fire Parade) takes place along Colom street and Porta de la Mar square. This spectacular celebration of fire, the symbol of the fiesta’s spirit, is the grand finale of Falles and a colourful, noisy event featuring exhibitions of the varied rites and displays from around the world which use fire; it incorporates floats, giant mechanisms, people in costumes, rockets, gunpowder, street performances and music.

La Cremà

On the final night of the Fallas, around midnight on March 19, these fallas are burnt as huge bonfires. This is known as La Cremà (the Burning), the climax of the whole event, and the reason why the constructions are called fallas (“torches”). Traditionally, the falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento ( The Town Hall ) is burned last.

Many neighbourhoods have a falla infantil (a children’s falla, smaller and without satirical themes), which is held a few meters away from the main one. This is burnt first, at 10:00 PM. The main neighbourhood fallas are burnt at midnight.

Fallas burn quite quickly, and the heat given off is felt by all around. The heat from the larger ones often drives the crowd back a couple of metres, even though they are already behind barriers that the fire brigade has set several metres from the construction.

Away from the fallas, people frolic in the streets, the whole city resembling an open-air dance party, except that instead of music there is the incessant sound of people throwing fireworks around randomly. There are stalls selling products such as the typical fried snacks porres, churros and bunyols, as well as roasted chestnuts or trinkets.

While the smaller fallas dotted around the streets are burned at approximately the same time as each other, the last falla to be burned is the main one, which is saved until last so that everybody can watch it. This main falla is found outside the Ajuntament – the town hall. People arrive a few hours before the scheduled burning time to get a front row view.

Analysis

Fallas is a festival which represent the culture, tradition and history of Comunidad Valenciana. It also has economic values because many visitors pay a lot of money to travel to Valencia to see Fallas. So this festival help the people of Valencia economically. It is famous in Spain because it is the celebration of spring. The Fallas festival celebrates all aspects of Valencian culture and tradition. It has every expression of the Valencian identity. This festival turns Valencia into an open city for visitors who comes to see Fallas from all over Spain. Valencia is always full of crowd and lots of noise during the last day of Fallas.

Our thoughts and experiences:

Rebecca’s thoughts:

The Fallas Festival was absolutely incredible. I went with a pre-organized program through the University of Alicante. We left at 9 am on Saturday morning, were there by 10:30 am, and then didn’t leave until 3:30 am Sunday morning. It was a crazy day. 

We spent the majority of the day exploring the city and looking at the fallas before they burned down. The city was absolutely packed so just going to see the popular fallas was difficult in and of itself. However it was definitely worth it. I had been told the fallas were works of elaborate and beautiful art, but I was unprepared for just how detailed and spectacular they were. Many were breath taking. Many more had me laughing. Still more had me guessing at all the hidden meanings in the designs. 

The food round the fallas was incredible, from the fresh food served out of the stands along the street, to the bunelos and churros available in their carts. Definitely an experience in and of itself. 

I, personally, missed several things in the fallas- I was with a group of people who decided not to see the mascleta in el ayuntamiento. I stayed with the group so I wouldn’t get separated from them for the full day, but ultimately regret not seeing or feeling the mascleta up close. I was also unable to make it to the statue of the virgin to see the flowers, something I wish I had seen. I was unable as well to really get a look at many of the fallas due to time constraints and crowds. 

For next time, I think I would make sure to go for a few days, rather than just on the final day, because while the final day is a must see and the highlight of the entire festival, there is simply too much to see and do and experience about this festival as a whole for only 24 hours.

Some of my favorite parts: La crema (of course), the final firework show, and the churros.

Sianna’s Thoughts

For me this was one of the worst experiences in my life! Definitely I don’t regret because is something that you must see during your stay in Spain. But I will never go again. It was too crowded and too noisy. I couldn’t enjoy any of the fallas because it was so hard to move because there were people everywhere.

I recommend to any of you who  desire to go and see Fallas not to do it the last day because this is the time when everyone ( all Spain ) goes there.

Ayushma’s Thoughts

It was my first time seeing fallas. I just loved the way each neighbourhood of the city created beautiful monuments. It was wonderful watching different monuments which represent the things of the Valencian community. I felt bad though, watching them getting burnt because it takes a whole year to build all those monuments  and just within a second all the hard work gets burned. It was noisy and crowded as Sianna told. It is really hard to move from one place to another. But I really enjoyed the festival.

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