Tag Archives: las fallas

LAS FALLAS 2018

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.

Fallas #PassFire Visit Spain

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.

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Valencia Las Fallas Festival of Fire

In years gone by, as Spring approached and the days grew longer and lighter, the folk of Valencia used to burn leftovers or offcuts from around the neighbourhood. The lamp was ceremoniously placed into the town square, surrounded by rags with a hat etc on (kind of like a Guy Fawkes) calling it a Ninot or Falla.

On March 1st, the first string of firecrackers which are known as Mascletas is lit and fired in the Town Square heralds the beginning of the festival period which runs from 16th March to Midnight on 19th March 2014.

In the interim period, the area is lavishly decorated with more than 700 figures/effigies prior to the most spectacular event on 17th and 18th march between 4:00pm and Midnight including a parade, with members of the Fallas in their spectacular, beautifully created traditional costumes.

This beautiful and entertaining event which pokes fun at everyone equally, with references in a humorous way to sociopolitical situations all depicted by Fallas and Ninots since the mid 1800’s.

At midnight on the 19th, the festival closes with powerful imagery as the beautiful Fallas and Ninots are set alight apart from one which is voted for by the Falleros which will be kept in the Fallero Museum. There are, of course, lots of fireworks and a massive bonfire too.

Every year, hundreds of pyro madmen (not mad-men) go over to Valencia for this absolutely fascinating event which is loud, full of pyro and of course gives them a great opportunity to meet up before the wedding season starts in earnest and they are all back to being wet, muddy and smelling of fireworks day in, day out.

Good luck everyone in Valencia and we can look forward to some brilliant photographs and video footage.

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Las Fallas Festival of Fire in Valencia

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Aside from being the birthplace of Paella, the City of Valencia is also famous for the Las Fallas festival.

The Las Fallas festival is a traditional commemoration of one St Joseph (day of the father) and represents one of the two most famous events in Valencia annually. This year held from 1st to 19th March 2013.

The festival is thought to have started many centuries past when the city’s carpenters used to burn old pieces of scrap wood and worn out wooden utensils collected through the winter as a celebration of the feast of St Joseph.

The modern Las Fallas was created in the 19th century when prizes were awarded for the most creative use of leftover materials. Over time, there have been occasions when the Fiesta was banned as in 1870 when some of the images were not well received by local political representatives.

Nowadays, every year the ‘Fallas’ are created by numbers of different groups established specifically for the purpose of creating sculptures including puppets or dolls made from pappier mache to be burned on the last night of the festival. Up to 700 examples of these Fallas have created annually.

Some of the Ninot (dolls or puppets) are up to 20ft tall and will be mounted on their own Fallas as a representation of religious, historical and political figures. The groups tasked with creating these wonderful pieces are known collectively as Casal Faller.

The first day is when the competing Fallas all have to be ready to display and any not completed will not be included in the judging. The second and third days are dedicated to a Catholic Procession called La Ofrenda where flowers will be brought to the central plaza and added to a wooden framed statue of Mary and the bands will play music with a sassy Latin flavour.

There are 5-days of continuous partying processions and residents and visitors to the area are treated to a variety of firework displays every day and the streets are littered with pyro debris. There are representatives from around Europe all assisting in the lighting of the massive amount of pyro on offer.

Each day of this festival begins at 8.00am with a wake-up call from the brass bands marching down the streets of Valencia and surrounding districts and they are followed by the fallers throwing large firecrackers in the street as they go.

The Mascleta is a pyro-musical display which takes place in each neighbourhood at 2pm daily. The pyro-technicians compete for the honour of providing the finale ‘Mascleta’ of the Fiesta.

El Castillo is the final night of the festival and at Midnight, a display of fireworks which lights up the sky and will contain several tons of pyro makes this a magical place to be.

The final night of the festival is known as the ‘Crema’ (or the burning or cremation). All of the Ninots are then placed back onto there Fallas where the fireworks are lit first before the fire begins, reducing it all to ashes.

This year of course the festival has the added facet of having had a new Pope elected during the festival and as the festival is mainly for the Catholic faith, I am sure that the event will be more relevant than ever.

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