Fallas takes place between the dates of the 15th and 19th of March though in reality the entire month is taken up by the build up to these days. During this period Valencia becomes one big non-stop party and is certainly not for the faint hearted with each and every day being punctuated by explosions, fireworks and even the odd running Bull.If you are the type of person who enjoys peace and quiet then this is not the place for you. From the first day of March onwards, a "mascletá" is held everyday in the Plaza Ayuntamiento at exactly 2pm.
It is over 5 minutes of deafening, thumps and bangs. Believe me when I say that nothing can prepare you for how loud this thing actually is. I went to one early in March and managed to arrive early enough to get a spot on the steps of the post office building (which they say is the best place to "enjoy" a mascletá) and the sound is so powerful that the glass window panes of neighbouring buildings shake and you can actually feel the bass of the explosions in your body.
Anyone unaware of a mascletá might think the city is under attack by terrorists!.Generally, pyrotechnics and fire are a big theme during Las Fallas and I would recommend that anyone coming for the festival should see one of the firework displays held in the dry Turia riverbed at Alameda. Valencia is fiercely proud of its reputation as the pyrotechnics capital of the world. One of the industries biggest names is based here in Valencia. The Caballer family are contracted to perform firework displays at events such as the Olympic games, and the new year's eve celebrations in both London and New York but consider the displays during Fallas as their chance to do something special for the home crowd. Forget anything you might have seen on Guy Fawkes night.
The displays at Alameda, particularly on the "Nit de Foc" on the 19th are something to be in awe of. For a taster, download the video clip I filmed during this year's event.The Fallas themselves are huge, colourful, grotesque monuments that satirise the year's news events in Spain.
Each neighbourhood pays a local artist an extremely large amount of money to create its own Fallas monument with the most expensive in this year's festival costing over ?600,000. Very expensive considering that on the last day (the day of San José) the Fallas are ritually burned at around 12:00am by the local fire brigade. For an example, check out this video of one of the year's biggest and most expensive constructions going up in flames.
All in all Las Fallas lived up to expectations. Valencians certainly do not do things by halves and Fallas has been a fantastic experience. It has been a crazy month of excessive noise and partying but now it is over for another year. The peace and quiet I am now suddenly experiencing whilst writing up this article, though welcome, actually feels quite strange after the constant banging and sleepless nights I have become accustomed to in the last month. The sudden contrast is typical of this crazy city. You will never find anywhere else like it!.
For more articles like this and for more information about Valencia and Spain in general, check out www.new2spain.com..Dan Carwardine. Website publisher and writer for New2Spain.Com. Based in Valencia, Spain.
By: Dan Carwardine