What Is The Celebration Of Las Fallas?
Big bangs and gynormous street sculptures in Valencia for the fallas
Get ready to have all your senses blown away during the fiesta of Las Fallas in Valencia. The fallas fiesta is one of the biggest, craziest fiestas in the world. We had a look around one of the workshops where they make the fallas in Valencia to find out more.
Sight of Las Fallas in ValenciaIt's an explosion of bright colours. The huge statues are painting in the brightest colours. When we say huge, some of the monuments for the fallas are several storeys high.
Wander the streets to see these amazing statues or ninots. They take around nine months to plan and build. The themes vary. Often they could be making a political statement, poke fun at people, feature celebrities – Mick Jagger's lips look even more humungeous when they're larger-than-life size in a giant sculpture – or depicting a movie scene.
Marvel at the falleras' dresses. The embroidery is exquisite. They've heavy too. These girls and women will be parading in their dresses all day and night.
How much do the fallas in Valencia cost?We visited the workshop of the Falla Municipal, which is where they were building the main sculpture for the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It cost a whopping €205,000 and takes nine months to make. Eight people are employed – five artists, two bosses and a secretary. It is assembled in the street (it's too big to put up in one piece in the workshop). A few days the ninots are burnt in the crema on St Joseph's Day, March 19.
Artwork and model for the Falla Municipal ninot
Then there are the mascletas. In Valencia, they are held in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento at 2pm. A mascleta is a noisy, rhythmic pyrotechnic display. The fireworks or masclets are tied in lines and then set off. The noise builds up (and can reach more than 140 decibels), while the square fills with smoke. It sounds like you're in the heart of a war zone with the booming noise and smoke, but it's all part of the crazy fallas in Valencia.
What are mascletas?
Other sounds during the fires are the fantastic bands marching through the streets and the excited chatter of the fallas groups and visitors.
Smell of gunpowderThroughout the entire fallas fiesta, you'll smell gunpowder. Not only are there the mascletas but fiesta-goers will be letting off firecrackers in the streets, and right under your feet. You'll see very young children expertly letting off firecrackers and shrieking with laughter as you visibly jump out of your skin when they go off right next to you.
Touchy-feelyEveryone is hugging and kissing as they excitedly visit each fallas district to see their sculptures and dance to the marching bands.
Taste of ValenciaThis is a time to enjoy Valencian food. Yes, you have to try one of the giant paellas being cooked in the streets. Or get a sugar rush from the churros. Wash it down with a refreshing glass of horchata made from tiger nuts. Or act like a local and drink beer with a chupito (a shot that you have to down in one!).
What does Fallas mean?Fallas originally meant torch. But in the 18th century, the word falla meant a fire lit to burn ninots (which are satirical puppets or dolls). Eventually the figures themselves were called fallas or falles in valenciano.
Read our article Come On Baby, Light My Fallas to find out more about the celebration of Las Fallas and why did the Las Fallas start.