13.03.15 – 21.03.15
In Valencia during Las Fallas young children play with gunpowder and firecrackers in the street.
Las Fallas is an annual week long celebration, held only in Valencia and celebrates the Saint Joseph by basically partying all week long in the streets, and then finishing by setting fire to hundreds of papier-mâché monuments which are set up all over the city, the ‘fallas’. It also generally marks the beginning of spring.
We arrived two days before the official start of the festival, and will leave almost two days afterwards. The whole thing is wonderfully overwhelming for all senses. The streets are filled with people of all ages literally 24/7, and are lined with pop up bars and food vendors. You can smell fresh churros, porras and bunuelos being cooked on every corner, and of course the constant lingering smell of fireworks and gunpowder. And the noise. Crowds, music, parties, firecrackers, non stop. It’s truly a week long party with no rest for the wicked. I think the earliest we’ve gone to bed all week is about 2am and the latest was around 5.30am –I think?
Days are spent exploring the city, you can’t walk for five minutes without stumbling upon another ‘fallas’, they are everywhere and each one is amazingly designed and constructed. And they’re huge! They will all be burned on the last night of the festival, called ‘la cremà’.
Every day at 2pm there is ‘la mascletà’, where everyone gathers in the centre of the city to watch a gunpowder show, which is timed to the beats of a different song everyday. It’s insanely loud, but there’s an amazing atmosphere as people arrive hours early to grab the best spot for the 10-minute spectacle. We went to four of them during our week here and they slowly got bigger and louder every day. The last one we went to was the very last one of the festival; it was our ears were still ringing over 15 minutes later!
The whole week were looking forward to Thursday night, the main event, the climax of the festival, la cremà. The huge fallas are all set alight starting from 12am. We managed to catch two of the big fallas burning, and also two of the little ones the ‘ninots’. They were all pretty spectacular, and still insane that these are huge bonfires are allowed to happen all over the city, nearly all of them literally beside trees and apartment blocks. Only in Spain, I guess.
The food and drink in Valencia is great too. It’s the home of the paella, and also the drink Horchata –Daniel isn’t keen but I think it’s delicious. My favourite thing though is their trademark drink ‘Agua de Valencia’ –literally ‘Valencian water’. A cocktail of fresh orange juice, cava/champagne, gin and vodka, and it’s sold everywhere. It’s delicious and very deadly. Of course we ate Paella, we saved it till our last day when we were so exhausted and just wanted to enjoy a good, long lunch. We opted for the traditional Valencian paella, of rabbit, chicken and snails. We were a bit nervous, especially about the snails, but hey, when in Rome. It was all really delicious though, and you could hardly taste the snails amongst everything else! Kudos to Restaurante Navarro for giving us the refuelling we needed.
Las Fallas is the stuff Bucket Lists are made of, it was one of the busiest, loudest and most fun weeks I’ve ever had –but I think we’re still glad to be heading to Seville now to get a little bit of quiet.
Here’s a link to a video I made on our time at Las Fallas;