In the city of Valencia, there is perhaps no time more energetic and buzzing than the month of July. This is the month during which the July Fair is held to celebrate the onset of summer and to just make sure that everyone has a jolly good time. A packed entertainment program includes concerts, al fresco cinema, local food, fireworks displays and street markets, leaving visitors spoilt for choice when deciding how to spend their time.
It therefore it comes as no surprise that the end of the month will be celebrated in extremely festive style in the form of the Batalla de Flores. Held every year on the last Sunday in July, the Battle of Flowers marks the end of the annual fair and a fun-filled month in real traditional style. Honouring a custom that has been acknowledged for 124 years, the Batalla event will see a parade of brightly coloured floats and horse-drawn carriages gliding their way down the Paseo de la Alameda.
Bring it on
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.
Tradition states that orange and yellow carnations are the most popular flowers; with more than a million carnations thrown during the battle, the city quickly becomes covered in a carpet of flowers. These brightly coloured blooms are complemented by the parade of floats with exquisite, intricate decoration. This is a feast for all the community and all the senses, with the beautiful scent of flowers lingering throughout the city streets for many hours after the battle has died down.
Heart and soul
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 26 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!