Valencia - Fallas

S/V Goldcrest
David & Lindsay Inwood
Sat 20 Mar 2010 08:00

Hello from Valencia for the last time before we leave on Sunday (weather permitting).  Today is the last day of Fallas – a five day festival unique to Valencia.  It has several elements including the incredible “mascletas” (poorly translated as “firecrackers”) displays all around the city which truly sound like the city is under attack.   Today they have surpassed themselves with a deafening din that went on for hour after hour – we could hardly hear ourselves think and we are miles away from it all in the harbour.  The “fallas” are the enormous structures of papier mache, wood and polystyrene which are erected all over the city for the 5 days and are supported by local societies who dress up in traditional costumes and hold lively street parties.  The city virtually comes to a halt for the duration of the event and it’s a firework free-for-all in the streets.  Health and safety types in GB would have a fit at scenes of groups of tots gathered around a firecracker or the indiscriminate tossing of noisy bangers everywhere you go.  The enormous, costly and usually Disneyesque structures are awarded prizes, as are the astonishing light shows put up by some of the falla groups.  Then at the end of the fiesta – always March 19th - comes the “Crema” when all the structures are burnt in a mighty night of toxic bonfires!  Since some of them cost more than half a million euros to make, it seems like a unique form of madness to those not from these parts.  As a proud poster in the city reads “only Valencians have the courage to burn a year’s work”.  We shall venture out this evening to try to catch a few conflagrations.


An amazing “cathedral” of lights at one of the “fallas”:



Bare-chested ladies are a popular theme in the often satirical and lurid statues:



This one gives an idea of the huge size of some of the structures:



Just a detail of a falla on the theme of saving the planet (something about silicon here):



Part of the costumed procession of “falleros”.  Even babies in prams are dressed in elaborate costumes:


Back again after the bonfires: what a mess.  We’ve finished washing all the muck off the decks, but the harbour water around us is slick with a black oily film, presumably from all that burnt polystyrene.  They certainly finished Fallas week with a bang.  Each Falla had its own little ceremony, with a band, the local Falla queen & team, then more fireworks and firecrackers, before dousing their models with petrol & whoosh, bang, kerpowee.


Today we say farewell to the lovely local friends we have made here.  Although it’s exciting to be leaving tomorrow, Valencia will always have a big place in our hearts.  


Hope to post a much more regular blog again from this point as we will actually be travelling once more!