31 March 2018

Las Fallas: have a genuine taste of the Valencian tradition!

How much can they party? I thought to myself when I decided to visit Valencia during Las Fallas (15th of March until the 19th of March). How crazy can it get? The people there are always calm. Valencia is such a quiet city. How much noise can there be?

Well, apparently… a lot of noise!!!!

First of all I had to get used to the constant fire crackers. Children running around with wooden boxes or plastic bags carrying all kinds of fireworks are encouraged by their parents to make as much noise as possible. Then there is the music and the drinking and the food and I realized the Valencians take their celebrations quite serious.

Every morning there was a wake up call, with music and firecrackers of course. Every day at 14:00 we had the ‘La Mascletà’. A firework show mostly consisting of firecrackers and enormous bombing  that made my whole body shake. The big show was at the city hall, the Plaça de l'Ajuntament then little shows followed in each community. I experienced both of them and both are spectacular and a bit scary I must admit. But the Valencians are clearly used to it. The louder, the better!

I was highly impressed by the Fallas, the work of art created by each community. Every year each community in Valencia gets together, raises money and then pays an artist to create amazing art made of foam. The details of the art are astounding and the creativity is on a whole different level. The Fallas are accompanied by little children’s Fallas as well. The Fallas are spread all across the city so if you take a walk you will come across several of them. Aside these there are seven enormous Fallas in the city that are incredibly high and amazing. Imagine my surprise when I heard they burn them all at the end of the festivities, on the 19th of March. This is called ‘La Cremà’. This is the tradition as in old times people used to burn their old furniture and in a way start a new year fresh. The burning of the Fallas is a symbol of that. And the fire is…huge! There were people running on the streets because of the enormous smoke that had built up from just one of the Fallas and they were not even one of the biggest ones.

I loved the costumes and parades. Everyone looked so beautiful. They did this every day! Dressed up every day and joined the parade.

‘L'Ofrena de flors’ is wonderful as each community carries flowers during a parade and brings them in the center where a giant statue of the Virgin Mary stands. The statue is then decorated flower by flower.

There was also a wonderful light show with music in Ruzafa that is definitely worth watching. I recommend you watch some video’s on youtube as I was unable to capture their beauty o camera. All the streets are lit up and you basically walk among colorful, rainbow colors. Whatever you do, do not miss this!

Aside the firecrackers shows in the afternoon there are also fireworks shows late in the night. Now these are impressive! Never have I seen anything like it and I felt like I was celebrating New Year all over again.  The funny thing is that with New Year, Valencia doesn’t go this far with fireworks, but with Las Fallas! Be surprised and be amazed!

Let aside the traditions, I have seen some unusual things take place as well. I have never witnessed a…leek fight before. Teens hitting each other with leek was quite an interesting event to watch. No, this was not part of Las Fallas, it was just part of being totally drunk. Saint Patrick’s day combined with Las Fallas creates quite some interesting moments as well. Oh and if you see people crashed on the street, don’t wake them, just let them sleep it off.

But aside it all, the millions of tourists, the crazy partying, the drunk people, Valencians are still very polite and relaxed. Even the dogs (usually scared of fireworks), seemed more relaxed than I was. In crowded places people still respect each other and there was not one moment in which I felt unsafe. Also Valencian people love to chat! You don’t speak Spanish? They really don’t care, they just talk to you slowly and even join you while you are sitting at a terrace. They are amazing and I think it’s because when you look at them, you realize they are truly happy. People in Valencia are happy. Their lives are simple yet they have all they need.

Las Fallas is a special event that I definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in traditions and partying. It’s amazing to see and it’s something you shouldn’t miss for the world. Just be careful to book on time because all hotels are already booked a year in advance. I was lucky to stay with my amazing friends. I basically forced them to stay during the Las Fallas so I can come over. I understood that usually the Valencians just leave the city in that week. I wonder why? Jajajaja!

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