Las Falles de Valencia
Visitors to Benidorm during mid March have the fantastic opportunity to witness one of the largest bonfire and firework displays in the world, Las Falles de Valencia. This magnificent festival is described by many as a 5 day street party with each night getting progressively grander and more raucous. Marching bands, street processions, singing, dancing, feasting, and of course fire, all come together in a mesmerising display of how a real festival should be.
Preparing For Las Falles
A traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph, preparation for Las Falles de Valencia practically start when the last one ends! All the neighbourhoods and communities of Valencia organise groups called ‘Casal Faller' that throughout the year arrange parties, dinners and fundraisers where the proceeds go to building and preparing their neighbourhood's Falla with the help of craftsmen, sculptors and artists. A falla is made up of an elaborate base monument mounted with an even more elaborate and colourful Ninot (puppet), all made from a mix of wood, paper maché and cardboard, beautifully painted and filled with fireworks. Each neighbourhood chooses a theme for their falla which can be anything from Disney characters to film stars or politicians.
Let The Festival Begin
Throughout the 5 days and nights of Las Falles de Valencia each morning starts with a rather noisy wake up call, (La Despertá) where bands march through the streets followed by revellers throwing firecrackers. Each afternoon there are firework displays and competitions to see which pyrotechnician will organise the final firework display (Mascletá).
Each day of the festival there are street parties, religious processions and traditional bands marching, followed by fallers in beautifully designed costumes representing different eras of Valencia's history. Also during the days leading up to the final night each neighbourhood parades their ninots, some of which are so huge they can reach several stories high. On most nights there are firework displays in the city's old river bed leading up to the huge main display on the last night, referred to as the Night of Fire.
The Main Event
The 19th of March is the final day of Las Falles de Valencia and at around 7pm there is the main ‘Fire Parade' with large floats followed by costume parades, street performers and music accompanied by happy revellers. At midnight a quiet anticipation descends on the city and its neighbourhoods when, after months of hard work and preparation, La Cremá (the burning) begins and the fallas with their mounted ninots are set ablaze, igniting the fireworks inside and turning the city into an inferno of fire and fireworks.
The whole city becomes a giant street party and the bomberos (firemen) are kept busy controlling blazing ninots and fires caused by stray fireworks. All in all, Las Falles de Valencia is a spectacular event and one of Spain's largest and wildest festivals that has revellers coming back year after year.