The Fallas festival: art, fireworks, music, humour and a lot of fun!

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Valencia welcomes the spring with his most international festival: the Fallas. Fireworks, parades,hustle and bustle, light and joy, fire and noise … it’s time for fun, time to forget everything and enjoy. The Fallas festivities take to the streets of Valencia, which are completely transformed to honor Saint Joseph. In the week of 19 March, the city fills with more than 700 gigantic cardboard monuments -often 20 feet tall or even more- called fallas, for a competition that is marked by art, creativity and sense of humour. They are a window to current affairs: the monuments, in some way, satirises a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or simply imagination.

A2-61048136.jpg                    cuba6

The origin of the celebration goes back to the carpenter’s parot: these were wooden lamps used to light their workshops in winter, which they would burn out in the street on the night before the feast of Saint Joseph. At first they would make them look like human forms by decorating them with old clothes and fabric. In the mid-19th century, however, they began to increase in size and height and to improve their forms, becoming huge decorative statues.

ortifus                    infantil na jordana

The ” ninots ” are the individual figures that make up the scenes in the Fallas monuments. At the beginning of February, each Committee donates its best ” ninot ” (just one) to a collective exhibition that is open to the public up until the day of the “plantà” (15th March), when each figure is collected by its Committee and taken back to the Fallas monument it belongs to on a noisy and colourful parade with whistles and brass bands.

Each visitor to this exhibition has the chance to vote for the “ninot” that he or she likes best: whether because of its originality or its design. When the time comes to close the exhibition, the votes are added up and the “ninot” with the largest number of votes is saved from the flames: this “ninot indultat” will have the honour of being the only “ninot” in all of Valencia that will not burn on the night of the 19th.

Here you have some pictures of 2015 Ninot Exhibition. Are you able to recognize these celebrities?

Barack Obama & Vladimir Putin
Barack Obama & Vladimir Putin
John Lennon &  Yoko Ono
John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Angela Merkel. The text says something like "If you want to be in Europe, you have to lick my ass"
Angela Merkel. The text says something like “If you want to be in Europe, you have to lick my ass”
Je suis Charlie
Je suis Charlie
IMG_0488
Rita Barberá, the major of the city of Valencia, seen as “King Kong”. She’s up to the “Miguelete”, the tower of the Valencia’s cathedral.
Again Rita Barberá, this time taking a "selfie" with a local character, "EL pequeño Nicolás".
Again Rita Barberá, this time taking a “selfie” with a local character, “EL pequeño Nicolás”.
The President od Spain, Mariano Rajoy, as a butcher: cutbacks are quite usual in Spain at this moment.
The President od Spain, Mariano Rajoy, as a butcher: cutbacks are quite usual in Spain at this moment.

Although the most important acts are held during the week of the 19th, Valencia is busy preparing the festive atmosphere from 1 March with the mascletás, noisy firework displays that take place every day at 2pm in Town Hall Square.

If you want to watch a mascletà: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/fallas/mascleta/1047910/

mascleta-vives--647x300 mascleta

The Ofrenda is the greatest expression of religious devotion in the whole Fallas Fiesta calendar, with an elegance, grandeur and visual impact that is rarely surpassed. It is a floral offering to the Kingdom of Valencia’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. All the Fallas Committees take part in this event, decked out in their finest, to present their bouquets of flowers to the enormous image of the Virgin which stands in the centre of the plaza named after her, overlooked by her Basilica.

plaza-virgen-valencia-fallas FALLAS VALENCIA - OFRENDA DE FLORES A LA VIRGEN

A parade of thousands upon thousands of “Falleras” and “Falleros” fills the city streets, wearing regional costumes and adding to the visual charm with the colours of the flowers. Each Committee brings its own music band and, in some cases, a spectacular basket with the most original and creative floral decorations. Because of their incredible numbers of participants, the Offering is held on two days (17th and 18th March) and, for many reasons, it has now become the Fallas week’s central event.

valencia-ofrenda-020ofrenda2

The Cremà marks the end of Fallas festival. It is probably the most popular event internationally and the one that gives the concept of “Fallas Fiesta” its full meaning: the monuments are exhibited in the street to be burnt. That is their fate and, at the same time, their grandeur. In the small hours between the 19th and 20th of March, enormous pyres burn around the whole city. The splendid monuments, which a few hours before stood proudly in the streets and squares, are reduced to ashes amidst the clamour of hundreds of people who attend the ritual every year.

Symbolically, the “Falleros” throw everything that is considered to be superfluous, harmful or simply unusable onto the bonfire and, by doing so, aim to make a new start and regenerate the spirit. This objective has always been the basis of this kind of pagan rite, since ancient times.

The real purpose of the “Cremà”, though, is simply to make a spectacular display, to keep the tradition and to be able to start out on a new Fallas Year, which always aspires to be better than the last.

Download the Fallas oficial activity program:

Programa-de-Las-Fallas-2015-en-español-turístico

Programa_fallas_2015

Texts adapted from:

http://www.fallasfromvalencia.com/en

http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/agenda/fiestas/valencia/fallas_de_san_jose.html

http://www.valencia-cityguide.com/tourist-information/leisure/festivals/the-fallas.html

http://en.comunitatvalenciana.com

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