Every March Valencia gets ready to welcome the spring. The streets fill up with joy and the hustle and bustle of Las Fallas festival, the upmost expression of the merger of tradition, satire, art and sentimentality for one’s homeland. The Valencian people live their most international fiesta to the maximum and their kind and natural character invites you to visit the city and join in this fiesta, where everything that is bad is burnt and reborn from the ashes to welcome a new season.
Origin of Las Fallas
Just before spring, in the city streets, the guilds stopped working at night and burned in front of each workshop the rustic parot (a wooden device used for lighting). To feed the fire, these artisans accumulated old strips and chips of wood together with old junk collected from the neighbourhood. Afterwards, the parot would be brought to life with rags giving it a human form, with an old hat as the head, and so the Ninot figure was born.
These figures, protagonists of any skit in the neighbourhood, the city, the country and the world were then placed on a pedestal so they could be seen in the distance. Another fundamental aspect that helps understand the meaning of the Fallas is the ”Llibret”, which contains in rhyme “la relació i explicació de la Falla” (the relationship and explanation of the Falla). With all of this combined we have the real Valencian falla.
The festivities program for the Fallas Week originates from the heart of the Fallas process. An example of it is the “ninot indultat” (pardoned ninot), a tradition that was asked for by the people. This lead to an exhibition of the best figures, one per Falla, with the general public as the jury, and these were saved from being burnt. All the pardoned ninots are exhibited in the Fallas Museum.
From 1 to 19 March, every day at 2 pm in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the city vibrates to the sound of the traditional mascletà, a display of gunpowder explosions that beats out a unique sound. Afterwards, the city’s terraces fill up as people go to enjoy a typical aperitif and some traditional Valencian food under the Mediterranean sun.
La plantà. From Early 15 to 16 March
On the night of 15 to 16 March the plantà (installation) takes place, when the falleros and falleras, the men and women who construct the fallas (monuments), get together to work through the night on erecting them, to have them finished by dawn on the 16th
Prize Giving Ceremony. 17 March
On the morning of 17th, the falleros and their commissions go to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to collect their prizes. Prior to the ceremony the jury visits all of the city’s sculptures, of which there are over 750 including the large and the children’s sculptures, in order to decide upon the winners.
Fireworks and the Nit del Foc. From 15 to 19 March
Every night from 15 to 18 March, the sky of Valencia is filled with the light and colour of impressive firework displays. At 12 midnight, people gather on Paseo de la Alameda to enjoy the best display of colour and light. Not to mention the spectacular Nit del foc (Night of Fire), which is held during the early hours of the 18th and offers a fireworks display which is the only one of its kind in the world.
Ofrenda de Flores (Offering of Flowers) 17 and 18 March
All of the city’s fallas commissions will take place in a parade from their respective districts to the Plaza de la Virgin in order to make an offering of flowers to Our Lady of the Forsaken, the Patron Saint of Valencia. The celebration takes place from 4 pm until past nightfall. With all of the bunches of flowers given by the falleras to the Virgin, an impressive 15 metre-high tapestry is formed on the main façade of the Basilica and a mantle is made for the Virgin
La Cremà (The Burning) 19 March
On 19 March all of the sculptures, both those in the large and the children’s categories, go up in flames. At 10 pm the Cremà of the children’s sculptures begins. Two hours later it is the turn of the large monuments. The falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the last one to burn, at 1 am in the morning. It is always preceded by a small display of spectacular fireworks which fill the square with noise, light and colour, leading to the Cremà of the city’s last falla and with it the end of the festival.