Religion and culture – including a solemn procession and a water fight – come together in Valencia at the beginning of June for the ‘great festival’ Corpus Christi.
Celebrated on Sunday six weeks after Easter, Corpus Christi is a religious festival which has evolved to become very important to Valencia. It begins at midday with the priest of les Roques riding through the city on a horse which is dressed with a black velvet blanket showing the city’s coat of arms. The priest invites everyone to take part in the solemn procession that evening.
Meanwhile, local dance groups tell stories through dance. ‘La Moma els Momos’ is the most famous: a man dressed as a woman is La Moma, wearing white and with a veil over the face, dances with men in black masks and black and yellow outfits. The story represents the fight against the seven deadly sins. Giants and dwarves dance to the music of tambourines and flutes in another story which symbolises the uniting power of the Eucharist.
La Poalà is a light hearted waterfight. The members of the Amics del Corpus Association walk through the Caballeros and Avellanas streets and people throw buckets of water over them.
Beautifully carved carriages are involved in the Carriages Parade at 4.30pm. They were built between 1373 and 1392 to act as the stage for performances of the Mysteries of Christ. The 11 wooden structures take the shape of ancient boats and have carved sculptures representing biblical figures and saints.
At 7pm, the Solemn Procession begins, led by the Senyera (the city flag). The Archbishop’s Cross is carried from the Cathedral and Les Banderoles (pennants or standards) are carried by three Reyes de Armas (Kings of Arms) wearing wigs, crowns and beards. Symbolic and biblical figures follow for this, the biggest spectacle of the day. Army personnel and six men dressed in 16th century style velvet and silk escort a ceremonial vessel called a Monstrance through the city as onlookers throw petals from the balconies on the procession route.
As a moveable feast, Corpus Christi falls on Thursday 30th May, with the procession taking place the following Sunday, 2nd June.
Film buffs from both sides of the silver screen will fill Valencia in June for the 28th Valencia International Film Festival Cinema Jove, which aims to promote young filmmakers.
The event attracts those who want to see the newest talent first and those who crave recognition for their new film works, from June 21st to 28th, 2013.
Judges welcome films in two categories: feature films and short films which were produced after the 1st of January 2012. Entrants stand to win up to 30,000 Euros, the recognition of film experts and a new fan base.
The daily schedule includes more than film screenings. There are opportunities to meet directors, actors and animators.
Daytime temperatures in Valencia will reach 25 degrees this week so the warm and balmy evenings need to be made the most of. Here are a few suggestions for where to go and what to see by the glorious Valencian moonlight.
Old Town for Good Old Fashioned Nights Out
El Barrio de El Camen has long had a reputation as the place to go for night life. It has a great range of bars, restaurants and individual shops amid some well-preserved historic architecture. Food, shopping and drinks are all on the cards here.
The New Meeting Place
Ruzafa is Valencia’s new fashionable corner for spending spare time. Dotted with restaurants and galleries, its multicultural offering of restaurants and cultural events make it a popular place to head for a night out.
Sunset at the Marina
The Juan Carlos I Marina has seafront bars, looking out over the sea and sunset or over moonlight on the waves. It can be very busy with a lively atmosphere when sporting events such as the America’s Cup or the European Grand Prix are on.
Stroll Along the Seaside
The cocktail bars, evening markets and choice of places to try Valencian-born paella make Las Arenas beach worth a moonlit promenade. Close to the city and popular for events, there is always something to see or do here.
Authentic Valencian Wine Tasting
Wine production has been part of Valencian life for thousands of years. When the sun has gone down, a cool glass of the finest local wine will give you a real taste for the area.
The city lights up beautifully at night, with various venues including the Oceanographic opening for late night visits. To find out more, keep an eye on www.turisvalencia.es
Immersing yourself in Valencian life means meeting some of the locals. How about the leopards, lions, giraffes, gorillas, ostriches, elephants and all their friends living at Bioparc?
The impressive collective of animals live side-by-side at the forward-thinking zoo which employs the concept of zoo-immersion: immersing the visitor completely in wild habitats. It makes for an engaging experience for visitors and a happy lifestyle for the residents.
Zoo-immersion is a philosophy and design technique. The natural habitat of each of the animals is carefully and faithfully copied so the vegetation and landscape form a setting they are happy with and that invites the visitors to discover the complexity of the natural ecosystems surrounding them. The barriers are hidden, giving a sense of continuity between the enclosures and the space that the public occupies. This is made safe by using natural barriers, such as water and wetlands, windows and glass walls to separate certain animals from each other and from the public. Particular attention is paid to how the animals like to socialise, and who would be happy living next to who.
The landscaping plays a very important part. By giving them a natural-feeling home, each species can be at ease to live happily. A team of biologists interpret the behaviour of the animals and a team of vets follow a set of protocols to ensure their health and wellbeing.
Focused on conservation and education, the zoo acts as a giant outdoor classroom, complete with interaction to help visitors learn how the environment needs to be preserved for the good of all species. The zoo even takes part in captive breeding programmes for species in danger of extinction.
From sunny spots in inside the natural park to long stretches of sand complete with exercise equipment, bars, restaurants and hotels, beaches are a big part of life in Valencia.
From the beautiful El Saler to the long, sandy Las Arenas, complete with exercise equipment, bars, restaurants and hotels – there’s plenty of beach space for everyone to stretch out and relax.
El Saler is located to the south of the city, in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park. It is bordered to the north by the Playa L’Arbre del Gos beach and to the south by the La Garrofera beach. A sparkling 2.6 kilometres of fine, golden sand is protected from the western wind by dunes and by a large expanse of pines of La Dehesa de El Saler – the Mediterranean forest -making it one of the most popular beaches in Valencia.
Las Arenas is close to the city centre and Marina Real Juan Carlos I where you can enjoy a catamaran ride or sample the famous Valencian cuisine at the many restaurants along the promenade en route. The beach attracts large numbers of visitors but has the space to welcome them. It is located to the south of La Malvarrosa beach, between Calle Acequia de la Cadena and the port’s dock. It is approximately 1.2 kilometres long and 135 metres wide with fine, golden sand.
Beaches are so integral to the life of locals and visitors, it has every service imaginable to make beach days (which are most days from early spring) happy and healthy. Lifeguard towers, medical care stations, disabled access, drinking fountains, showers and toilets name some of the essentials, while sun lounger hire, picnic tables and shaded areas make for a well-thought-out day trip.
For the record numbers of Brits who flew out of the UK this Easter in search of the elusive Spring sunshine, Valencia was a welcome discovery.
Valencia is forecast temperatures of 21 degrees this week while the UK thermometer hovers around five degrees – almost 10 degrees lower than the average for the time of year.
Now, Valencia is going even further to help travellers find their fix of warmer weather, with special offers for beachside hotels, Valencian cuisine and a discount on travel.
From April 1- May 1 visitors can stay in a hotel right next to the beach for just 30 Euros per person and there are special offers to eat out for just 15 Euros. Buy a Valencia Tourist Card online for a 10% discount and consider your transport around the city taken care of.
Celebrating the eve of Summer, the beaches and promenades are already full of life. The open terrace bars and restaurants boast favourite local dishes, tapas and healthy, cooling, sweet drink horchata.
Have you visited us on Facebook yet? If not, you should – we’re giving away a trip for two to the person who submits the most popular photo. The photo with the most votes at the end of the competition wins the following:
2 Return flight tickets with a low cost airline. The departing airport will depend on the air connections available between Great Britain and Valencia with this airline for the dates chosen.
You’ll want to share the competition with your friends so they can vote for your photo, plus each time you share it you receive an extra vote. So, submit your best photo and maybe we’ll see you in Valencia soon!
Maritime Holy Week traditionally takes place in one of the most emblematic districts of the city of Valencia, El Maritim. It is a unique Mediterranean festivity in the context of Holy Week in Spain.
According to tradition, Maritime Holy Week arose in the 15th century when a group, of which St Vincent Ferrer was prior, arose under the name of “Concordia dels disciplinants”, although there is no documentary evidence.
Certainly it has no processional floats like those of the Holy Week in Andalusia or Castile, and it does not have such widespread renown, except for the image of Veronica by Mariano Benlliure. However, its ceremonies and celebrations make it quite unique.
On the one hand, besides the overall programme of events, there is one day set aside for each brotherhood to walk in procession with their image, which is moved to the home of the member whose name has been drawn. It is traditional in Valencia for the image to be venerated in the selected member’s house, and so it is decorated with great care.
It is also a characteristic in this celebration to have the sculpted images together with neighbours dressed as Pontius Pilate, Herod, Salome, the Virgin… walking in procession with the bells tolling and under the traditional music. Many of these biblical characters have been recovered from the old Corpus Christi procession.
Actually, the most striking aspect tends to be their complicated hair styles! Another peculiar tradition is the “trencà perols”, at midnight on Easter Saturday, people throw old pots and tableware and water from their windows and balconies, in stark contrast with traditional Catholic Easter liturgies.
But the main event in Maritime Holy Week is the SACRED BURIAL, a procession incorporating all the corporations and brotherhoods with their floats and images, ordered chronologically according to the passion of Christ.
This celebration, which was originated with just a few fishermen and sailors, has reached us with all the Mediterranean charisma and typical style of the area. There is less drama. They are more parades rather than processions.
(literally “Night of Fire”), this pyrotechnical festival takes place on the night between the 18th and the 19th March and acts as a preamble to the main day of the Fallas.
Cabalgata del Ninot
A parody parade where the participating Committees dress up to portray famous personalities or current events in a critical or satiric way, playing with double meanings or even provocation. This parade takes no political sides and has no taboos: any institution, person or event currently in the public eye can become the subject of criticism. As a result, it is seen as a Falla on the move with its “human Ninots”.
Cabalgata del Ninot Infantil
Here it is the children who make up the amusing, colourful, lively parades. Although its themes obviously don’t reach the same levels of mordacity as its elder namesake, this cavalcade also includes a fair dose of satire and humour, more suited to the public it is aimed at.
Cabalgata Folclórica Internacional
With the Fallas in full swing, the city centre welcomes communities and groups from around the world to portray their customs, folklore and celebrations. It is a dynamic festival that combines music and colour with elements of tradition and culture.
Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados
A floral offering to the Kingdom of Valencia’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. All the Fallas Committees take part in this event, decked out in their finest, to present their bouquets of flowers to the enormous image of the Virgin which stands in the centre of the plaza named after her, overlooked by her Basilica.
A parade of thousands upon thousands of “Falleras” and “Falleros” fills the city streets, wearing regional costumes and adding to the visual charm with the colours of the flowers. Each Committee brings its own music band and, in some cases, a spectacular basket with the most original and creative floral decorations.
Because of their incredible numbers of participants, the Offering is held on two days (17th and 18th March) and, for many reasons, it has now become the Fallas week’s central event.
In translation, la plantà means something like “finishing touches”. It is actually the moment when the Falla’s top part is finally put in place. Since the Fallas are higher and more spectacular every year, the positioning of these pieces has become a difficult task which may take several days and which is observed with great expectation by dozens of onlookers.
Over time, the expression has become generalised: the “plantà” is now taken to be the exact moment when the Falla is completely finished and ready to be visited, with all its “ninots”, posters and various details (grass, lights, explanatory signs, etc.)
This takes place on the night of March 15th.
Cabalgata del Fuego
(Fire Parade) takes to the streets of Valencia in the evening of 19th March.
Fire is the fiesta’s symbolic spirit and the Fallas’ final destination. This is a colourful, noisy event, with floats, people in costumes, rockets, gunpowder, street performances, music – all at nightfall, as the time approaches for the Ninots to be consumed by flames.
In contrast to the Plantà, which marks the proper start of the Fallas Festival, the Cremà marks its finish.
It is probably the most popular event internationally and the one that gives the concept of “Fallas Fiesta” its full meaning: the monuments are exhibited in the street to be burnt. That is their fate and, at the same time, their grandeur.
In the small hours between the 19th and 20th of March, enormous pyres burn around the whole city. The splendid monuments, which a few hours before stood proudly in the streets and squares, are reduced to ashes amidst the clamour of hundreds of people who attend the ritual every year.
Symbolically, the “Falleros” throw everything that is considered to be superfluous, harmful or simply unusable onto the bonfire and, by doing so, aim to make a new start and regenerate the spirit. This objective has always been the basis of this kind of pagan rite, since ancient times.
In each neighbourhood The Fallas Committees organize a large number of street parties known as Verbenas, where locals meet to dance and have a good time. Everyone who wants to join in is given a warm welcome, so they are ideal for visitors, who are sure to find a friendly, laid-back atmosphere.