WHAT: LAS FALLAS 2020 WHY: FIREWORKS AND FIESTA WHERE: VALENCIA, SPAIN WHEN: SUNDAY 15TH MARCH TO THURSDAY 19 MARCH 2020 – FESTIVITIES BEGIN FROM 1ST MARCH ONWARDS COST: FREE TO ATTEND
The Las Fallas Fiesta (the fires) is acknowledged as being Valencia’s most recognised international festival and is full of lights, flowers, traditional costume, music, bonfires, plenty of gunpowder and the army of the Fallas (the fires).
As Valencia and the surrounding region say goodbye to the Winter and welcomes in the Spring, thousands of locals, visitors, and pyromaniacs descend on the city to witness one of the biggest festivals to be held in South-Western Spain.
Officially the festival does not get into the full swing of things until around the 15th of March but from the 1st of the month, at 2pm daily, there is a mascleta outside the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This concert of firecrackers is a popular event to witness, with neighbouring groups competing for the most impressive volley. All the mascleta end with the terramoto (earthquake) where hundreds of the firecrackers all explode simultaneously.
On the night of the 15th March, the Planta of the Fallas takes place. Workers put in an all-night shift to install around 800 figures in every corner of Valencia. The colourful ninots start to take shape some up to 20 feet tall and placed in groups that tower over the excited below. Some of the ninots are based on political figures, soap stars, tv, sports idols or some are just the imagination of the creators. On the 16th is when the judging takes place and then the ninots are paraded through the streets. These scenes of characters can be seen and enjoyed in the days following until the La Crema takes place.
In contrast to La Planta the crema marks the end of the festival in the City and is known as the most popular event internationally. The monuments are built and exhibited in the street to be burnt and this happens on the 19th and 20th reducing the splendid monuments that stood once proudly in the streets to ashes amongst the hundreds in the crowd that gather to witness the special event. The celebrations always end with Nit Del Foc (night of fire) on the 18th march. This is a fantastic firework display in the Paseo de la Alameda lighting up the skies along with light displays and music.
WHAT:LAS FALLAS – VALENCIA, SPAIN 2018 WHY: FIREWORK FESTIVAL AND FIESTA WHERE: VALENCIA, SPAIN WHEN: THURSDAY 15TH – MONDAY 19TH MARCH 2018 (BUT THERE ARE EVENTS EACH DAY FROM 1ST MARCH ONWARDS) COST: FREE
One of the most important fiestas in the Spanish calendar takes part shortly in the beautiful City of Valencia in South Western Spain. The event lasts for several days and on the final day the huge and brightly decorated figures or ‘ninots’ are burned.
The word Falla is an old Valencian word for torch and in bygone days, the old torches were placed in watchtowers used in defence of the City of Valencia. Legend has it that the local woodworkers and carpenters would celebrate the Fiesta for San Jose (St Joseph – husband of the mother of Christ) who became the patron saint of carpenters and woodworkers (as he was a carpenter himself one would assume) by burning off the last remnants of wood in celebration of the end of winter.
In the 1800’s, craftsmen would create these figurines or dolls as a mockery of the political in-fighting of the ruling dynasty, headed by Philip V who was the grandson of French ruler Louise XIV.
200 years on and Las Fallas is still going strong with people visiting from around the world just to see this amazing spectacle. Last year, the Ninots represented the President of the USA Donald Trump, Carles Puigdemont; the former President of Catalonia who wants to break Spain into smaller areas, footballer Lionel Messi, Mariano Rajoy; Spain’s Prime Minister and Rita Barbera; former Mayor of Valencia who dies whilst being investigated for money laundering. These are just a few of the amazing figures and caricatures on offer.
Las Fallas features also the mascaleta which are loud firecrackers/fireworks used both during the daytime and in the evening which MUST start off quieter and get gradually louder through to the end. Some of the very best pyrotechnic companies in the World take part including Pirotecnia Zaragozana, Ricassa and Heranos Caballer.
Team PassFire arrived in Spain (Valencia) in time for the Las Fallas Festival. Whilst this is widely attended by Pyro Freaks from around the World including a group of British Pro-firers and enthusiasts over there on a mission, there are also tens of thousands of firework lovers all there to see the spectacle for themselves.
The Las Fallas Festival is what can only be described as utter madness with fireworks! The beautiful City of Valencia plays host to this event which has been celebrated since some point in the Middle Ages (11th to 15th century) and was thought to have been created by the artisans who disposed of broken art works and any off cuts or unusable pieces of wood and other combustible materials and made them into dressed figures and set them alight to welcome the Spring Equinox.
The event essentially is 5 days and nights of partying and includes along with the plethora of fireworks and bonfires a great many religious, comedic and historical Ninots (puppets or dolls). The types of ninots are usually determined as a ‘theme’ and they are absolutely spectacular.
The main event ‘La Mascaleta’ is a barrage of fireworks and firecrackers which are fired at 2:00pm daily and the best of these is then selected to provide the finale ‘mascaleta of the fiesta’.
The origin of the word ‘Mascaleta’ is from the latin for masculine (not unsurprising with big boys toys!) and Fallas is derived from the latin for torch so essentially Las Fallas Mascaleta translates as The Torch Man!!
Whilst in Spain, Jesse and the #Passfire team ran into a little bit of trouble… Here’s a short extract of an email from Jesse Veverka…
“On a final note, you might have also heard that we successfully chased down a few bag thieves in Spain who tried to rob our camera equipment. It’s a true story. We got the bags back and even handed one of the thieves over to the cops. What can I say, the production must always go on!”