July is a month-long party in Valencia as the city celebrates its annual feria (fair). Concerts, al fresco cinema, stand-up comedy, fireworks displays, folk dances, parades, street markets… the programme of the Great Valencia Fair 2017 includes 150 events in 50 different locations so you are really spoilt for choice!
The summer celebrations start with full energy and pomp on Valencia’s seafront. The Malvarrosa beach hosts sailing and rugby competitions, as well as the Taronja Games, a fun sporting event where athletes compete on several beach activities. And at the Moors and Christian Festival (7 July this year), troops of men and women in spectacular costumes land on the seafront promenade and parade through the streets of the Cabanyal neighbourhood. But that is just the beginning…
Nights of music and gunpowder
The Jardines de Viveros park becomes an open air stage for a series of concerts which, this year, will include artists such as Jamie Cullum, Chick Corea and UB40, as well as renowned Spanish and Latin artists. Another event not to be missed during the Fair is the Grand Night or Gran Nit de Juliol, on 22 July, with musical performances in many spots in the city, paella tastings and the museums open until dawn.
The Palau de la Música is another focus point for the July Fair in Valencia, hosting its 21st annual Jazz Festival with classic Jam Sessions and free concerts in different points throughout the city such as the Central Market square (12 July).
Being in Valencia, fireworks always take centre stage and not less so during the July Fair. There are fireworks displays every Saturday after midnight at different points across the city. The most spectacular of all is a display set to music at the Marina de Valencia, which takes place on 15 July.
A battle in full colour
The Fair concludes with the colourful Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers), honouring a custom that has been acknowledged for 125 years. The Batalla event sees a parade of brightly coloured floats and horse-drawn carriages gliding their way down the Paseo de la Alameda. Men, women and children in lavish, traditional and elegant dress (huertano) sit atop the floats, tossing flowers out into the cheering crowds as they make their way through the sea of flowers. Many elderly members of the community are given a privileged position atop the floats, in order to be at the centre of the festivities.
The intricacy of the costumes gives the festivities an extra special feeling, making the streets of the city appear almost like a film. And it’s not called a battle for nothing! The crowd come well prepared, with crates full of flowers to throw back at the floats and the most coveted flower-throwing spots reserved weeks in advance.
When the Batalla de Flores was established in 1891, it was primarily used as a grandiose way for the bourgeoisie, royalty and aristocracy to demonstrate their power and prestige. Over time, it has developed to become a way for everyone to celebrate, enjoy themselves and welcome the August holidays. It’s also a great way for the city to share its best-loved traditions with tourists, who can get a privileged look at the real heart and spirit of the Valencia community.
This year, the Batalla de Flores will be held on Sunday 31 July at 8pm in the Paseo de la Alameda. The battle is expected to last for around an hour, and there will also be live music, bullfights and a number of other events held around the city to celebrate the end of the month. Enjoy!