“Does the smell of gunpowder excite you? Does the sight of flames make you smile? Do you secretly harbor pyrotechnic urges that are only socially acceptable on the Fourth of July? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Las Fallas of Valencia is your kind of event–a loud, smoky, high-spirited fiesta where the whole town is literally set ablaze!”
But what did that look like on the ground? Well, the first thing we heard every day at 8am was a band marching through the streets, playing joyfully while people lit off fireworks and threw firecrackers behind them. Firecrackers were thrown everywhere, all the time, by everyone. We saw tiny children and old men throwing them with abandon – and these were pretty impressive bangs that definitely made us start a few times!
Each day at 2pm, there is a mascleta in the town square. Basically, fireworks are fired in an attempt to be as loud as possible. I have never ever had my whole body shaken with fireworks, or had bits of ash and paper rain down on me from above, while being pressed in with thousands of other people – the mascleta was insane.
Every night around 1am there are fireworks, and these culminate in the Nit del Foc on the night of the 18th, where an incredible fireworks display takes place over the city. This lasted for about half an hour and had some amazing, beautiful fireworks.
There are parades throughout the festival – women dressed in beautiful and valuable dresses walking with a band. The women have gorgeous traditional hairstyles to go along with their dresses. On two of the days they are carrying flowers as an offering to the giant statue of Mary that is eventually covered with flowers.
Donuts, churros and other treats are available everywhere!
The true highlight of Las Fallas though is the ninots. These are sculptures made of polystyrene, placed on every street corner. There are 11 “special” and 15 “primera” ones, which we made a point of trying to see as many of as possible. These are massive and have lots of satirical political themes – we couldn’t understand the writing but some of the messages were pretty clear! We loved seeing these – they are so artistic.
Each ninot also has a children’s one next to it and these were so cute.
It’s best not to get too attached to any ninots though, as on the night of the 19th, these are burned! There is a competition and all but the winning ones are burned to a crisp. Smoke and fumes rise through the air, the fire brigade comes and sprays the trees so they don’t burn, fireworks are going off everywhere – it’s crazy and wild and not at all safe, and we loved it!
First to go are the children’s ones…we watched the Egyptian themed one above being burned. It started with the ninot being stuffed with fireworks, gun powder and gasoline…then the fuse above our heads was lit and fireworks went off and then it went up!
Later that night we watched the special Fallas being burned. We chose two next to each other and were able to see them both going up!
All that’s left the next day…