Las Fallas is a spanish fiesta where different cities around Spain (Valencia and Denia for example), spend all year building giant sculptures just to set on fire!
Las Fallas is a Spanish fiesta like no other. It takes place in early spring with the celebrations starting on the 14th March and lasting all the way through until the 19th. Thousands of locals and tourists from all over the world descend on the city to take part in this hot, loud, and totally unique party with an atmosphere quite unlike any other.
The history behind the Las Fallas (meaning ‘The Fires’) is widely debated. Some believe its origins lie in historic pagan rituals. Others say that it was the carpenters of the Middle Ages who used wood to support their candles in winter. Once the skies began to get lighter, they would burn this wood as it was no longer needed and this ritual was the catalyst for this world famous celebration. Its focus on San José (Saint Joseph), the patron saint of carpenters, would certainly point to this being the most likely reason.
On the first day the festivities commence at the crack of dawn. If you are not an early riser this may not be the festival for you as once the parade kicks off at 8am it is virtually impossible to escape the noise of brass bands, firecrackers, and exuberant revellers which will continue well into the night. There is much to see and enjoy during the festival including food stalls serving traditional Spanish dishes such as paella cooked over wood burning stoves, fantastic wines from the region, street dances, music and song, folkloric tales and firework displays that set the skies ablaze. The parades take place daily and have different themes, some historic, some religious, some comedic. During the parties and parades participants often dress in regional and historical costumes from different eras of Valencia's history.
One of the most incredible spectacles to witness is the mascletá, which takes place every day during the festival in the Plaza Ayuntamianto at 2pm. Lines of firecrackes are lit turning the streets instantly into billowing clouds of smoke and creating a thundering noise which intensifies in volume as more and more of them ignite. The firecrackers are timed and the rhythmic booming of them as they spark and fall to the floor makes you feel as though an earthquake has hit. The adrenaline from the crowds that gather to watch these incredible displays is almost tangible.
Of course we can’t forget the most important feature of the festival –the ninots. These incredible puppet like dolls are a sight to behold. Preparations for making the ninots begin as early as six months prior to the event and are made by local neighbourhood organisations called the Casual Faller. The crafters and designers work all year round trying to raise funds to build the ninots and then gather paper, plaster, paper mache and wood to make these impressive constructions. The ninots are extremely lifelike and often based on corrupt political figures or Spanish celebrities who are to be enthusiastically ridiculed throughout. For example in the 2005 festivities ninots of George Bush and of Shrek were paraded around the city! The colourful ninots are displayed until the last day known as La Crema (the burning). During this ritual the ninots are stuffed with fireworks and at exactly midnight they fireworks are lit. The ninots explode into a sparkling and colourful blaze of glory. Each year however there is a vote to spare one of the Ninots which is then excused from its fiery fate and lives on in a local Museum.
Las Fallas is one of Spain’s most revered celebrations, but beware it is not for the faint hearted! It you like to dance, chant, sing and don’t mind the possibility of going deaf this is an must see event, however if a quiet sandy beach and a good book is more up your street then this is perhaps one to miss! This fiesta is held in Valencia. It is also help in Denia on a smaller scale, but dont worry it'a just as much fun!
Las Fallas is one of Spains most unique and energetic festivals. With the spectacular ninots (huge puppets crafter from wood, plaster and paper mache), the fantastic traditional food stalls, the wines, the parades, the song and dance, the fireworks and the general merriment if you’ve got bags of energy and love a spectacular party this is the fiesta to come to!