Anticipation is building in the city of Valencia as the 9th of October draws near, for it is on this day that the local community will celebrate the national day of their autonomous region – Día de la Comunidad Valenciana – with a public holiday and some extremely enthusiastic festivities.
Every October since 1365, local people have come together to commemorate Valencia’s liberty from Moorish rule. This took place back in 1238 when King James I of Aragon freed the city from more than 500 years of Arab rule and created the Kingdom of Valencia.
This year, the party begins on the evening of 8 October with a concert from the Orchestra of Valencia at the Palau de la Música. Later on, night owls can enjoy a dazzling fireworks display at midnight in the Turia Park. Just make your way to the area between the two bridges – Puente de la Exposición and Puente de las Flores – or follow the crowds. On this night, many parades take place around the region to mark the beginning of the celebrations, with some residents dressing up in medieval costume.
At midday on the 9th October the festivities continue with the lowering of Valencia’s Senyera flag from the Town Hall balcony, accompanied by the joyful sound of the Valencia anthem and some enthusiastic rounds of gunfire. This is extremely significant as the flag is the very same one that was carried by King James.
The Senyera is then carried in a parade to the Plaza de la Reina and down to the cathedral,. After the Christian hymn of praise ‘Te Deum’ is sung, theparade continues to the statue of King James I at Plaza de Alfonso el Magnanimo, where the crowd can lay floral tributes at his Majesty’s feet. The procession continues back around the streets, returning to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for an explosive grand finale.
At 4pm, the traditional mascleta begins – this is a suspense-filled, pyrotechnic event, with a big build-up, intense rhythms and a breathtaking conclusion. The show contains dazzling sound and visual effects, and a stunning fireworks and firecracker display in every colour of the rainbow. There will also be a lively dance show in the Plaza de la Virgen and a festival of traditional Valencia dance and song. This part of the event concludes with the dramatic entrance of local people dressed in costume as the Moors and Christians, ready for battle.
October 9 is also the day of Saint Dionysius, patron saint of lovers, when it is traditional for men to give their partner a Mocaorà. This gift of marzipan wrapped up in silk scarf of handkerchief is named after the Spanish word Mocadorà (meaning scarf) with the marzipan traditionally representing fertility. It’s a busy time of year for the cake makers of Valencia, who produce around 70,000 kilos of marzipan for the men of the region to give their loved ones. This custom is one that dates back many years and completes the patriotic, positive feeling in the city on this day.