In the middle of the Mediterranean coast, Valencia city, celebrates each year the final days of the winter and the arrival of spring with spectacular fires and pyrotechnics. From March 15 to 19 (the feast of Saint Joseph, day of the father in the whole country), Valencia is given over to a carnival of bonfires, fiesta, fireworks and a healthy dose of satire known as Las Fallas, the fires.
The Fallаs is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, in Spain. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original one in Valencia.
The Falles started in the Middle Ages, when artisans disposed of the broken artifacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox. Valencian carpenters used planks of wood called parots to hang their candles on during the winter, as these were needed to provide light for the carpenters to work by. With the coming of the spring, they were no longer necessary, so they were burned. Over time, and with the intervention of the Church, the date of the burning of these parots was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.
Although the main part of the fiesta lasts for 6 days, preparation takes many months. For example for this year festival the head of Leonardo Da Vinci, weighing 7 tons, is being assembled. People begin to create enormous statues long months before the festival. The committee of Fallas must prepare every area of the city far the festival.
The five days and nights of Falles are a continuous party. There are a multitude of processions: historical, religious, and comedic. Crowds in the restaurants spill out into the streets. Explosions can be heard all day long and sporadically through the night. Foreigners may be surprised to see everyone from small children to elderly gentlemen throwing fireworks and noisemakers in the streets, which are littered with pyrotechnical debris. The timing of the events is fixed and they fall on the same date every year, though there has been discussion about holding some events on the weekend preceding the Falles, to take greater advantage of the tourist potential of the festival or changing the end date in years where it is due to occur in midweek.
Ladies are dressed in elaborate traditional costumes with full skirts of brocade, lacy aprons and mantillas, ribbons, sashes and jewels. Their hair, strictly parted in the middle, is coiled into braids over each ear, fastened with golden pins and combs. Every lady carries a bouquet of carnations.
Renowned artists, painters, and sculptors take great part in designing and constructing the enormous fallas – some tower up to 30 meters high! At midnight on March 19 people set on fire all of these sculptures on fire and admire colourful flames, which fill the streets of Valencia.
The celebration of the festival ends on the 20th of March with the firework display.
Las Fallas attract more than 1mio tourists every year. If you want visit Valencia, you should come there during this festival. The impressions will stay with you forever.