Everything you need to know about Fallas
Buñuelos and Chocolate
Horchata and Fartons
Nit de Foc
Basically it's a human firework fight. Men (who now where special protective overalls - but that's only very recent) each holding huge fireworks resembling what most English would call a roman candle, they run around at each other in a sort of fight!
The one during Fallas takes place on the 19th at 19.00h, though it is rather more sedate and calls itself the Cabalgata de Fuego (Procession of fire) starting from C/ Russafa along C/Colon and finishing at Puerta del Mar.
The very worst and most dangerous and crazy of these is held in Paterna later in the year when the guys are actually caged in!! Come back to us for more info later on for that one.
During Fallas there are verbenas every night all over the city, all the Casals hold them and many of the drink companies , such as Amstel join forces with casals to hold huge verbanas with live DJS and or bands.
When they are held in the maquees they are usually private affairs and you need to be invited to join in, but more often than not they are held in the street, the bars and music are for everyone and are jolly good fun.
A Fallera Mayor and Fallera Mayor Infantil of Valencia have the enormous honour of being chosen from all the Casals in the Community. Not only do they oversee virtually all the major events of Fallas (and have their own appointed 'court' ) but they also have a very high profile job all year. They act as Public Relations ambassadors for Valencia on many occasions, even travelling abroad promoting the community and have to take a year out of uni/ work to fulfill their job properly.
The punishing timetable during Fallas means it is likely these two only get a few hours sleep in the whole month!
A Casal is social club that organises fundraising events, and oversees the design and building of the centrepieces of each Falla - the NInots. (see below)
One can become a member of a Casal, usually by being nominated and then by paying an annual fee. During Fallas many Casal´s erect marquees in the street near their casal to house their bar and visitors and to hold their Fallas parties and verbenas.
These pieces are designed by one designer ¨àrtista¨ per fallas and are very intricate, detailed, and beautifully made and painted.They take a year to make and are made by specialist craftspeople in workshops and studios all over the community. From little tiny workshops in the Barrio del Carmen, to large barns in the middle of the huerta. The majority are made in Benicalap in Fallas City, (Ciudad Artista Fallero) an extraordinary and fascinating area devoted to fallas workshops.
The figures follow a theme or story and are topical, satirical, political and comical. This year America's Cup is bound to be a strong theme.
Almost as important as the ninots are the accompanying funny and poignant poems and verses, these too are satirical/political and are, of course in Valenciano, so a dictionary is often needed!
For every large ninot there is a small ninot called the falla infantil.
The average finished size of these works is 10 to 15 metres high, though some are as big as 20-30 for the top 10 works!
During the night of the 15th, once all thethe Fallas are in place, they are judged under numerous categories under sections,sizes, poems etc and these are awarded at a ceremony on the afternoon of 16th, the are displayed on the Fallas, the winners of the big prizes draw the biggest crowds from the 17th onwards.
Each Casal has its own Fallas and there are approx 500 in the community - see casal for more info.
The parts will have been delivered into place from all over the community from various workshops, for at least a week before. It is fascinating walking around watching these talented people putting all the finishing touches to thier work , in many cases with the larger works it is nothing to see a craftsman hanging of a crane glueing and painting. This is usually the best night to get the closest look at the Ninots, as after this night people are desperate to see the ones that have been judged the best.
10pm - Infantils,
This is a very emotional night for all involved, with lots and lots of tears shed over the burnings.
Many ninots are 20-30 metres high and are horribly close to buildings, fireman from all over the region are bought in to the city to hose the surrounding buildings whilst the fires blaze to protect them from damage!
A staggering 100,000 women and children, all falleras parade through the city from their respective casals along with bands and fellow members of the casal. It is fun to walk along with a group through the city and join the fabulous atmosphere. On the days of the 17 and 18th you find these groups all over the city. All carry their different coloured flowers, chosen for them by the designer of this year's flower robe for the huge figure of the Virgin.
Once the groups get to the Plaza San Agustin (in the middle of C/ San Vincente Martir) or the bottom of C/ de la Paz (in the Plaza de Tetuán), the fun stops and the groups are especially timed with a military precision from this point to walk with their flowers to arrive in time for them to be placed to make the design of the Virgin, from here on you can only watch from behind the barriers and it is a very emotional experience. The parade from the two points starts at 4pm and finishes at approx midnight , on the 17th with the Fallera Mayor Infantil and the 18th the Fallera Mayor. Their are also floats of flowers carried by falleros that are presented to the virgin and left on display around the Plaza Virgen. By the end of it all, the Plaza is filled with floral tributes
Valencia city isn't the only place to watch an Ofrenda. Many villages opt not to join the one in the city, and they have their own. The various casals parade through the village and meet at the local church.
If you miss any of these dates or you just can´t get to the Plaza de la Virgen, don´t worry the flowers are all left in place for at least a week after, making for easier viewing .
San José or Saint Joseph is Father's Day in Spain.
It is also the day of the Cremà.
San José starts with an ofrenda of flowers on the Puente San Jose attended Falleras Mayores and features a mascletà.
This is followed by a¨misa¨or service with all the main Falleras and the Carpenter's Guild in the Cathedral in honour of San jose
This is a lovely day to wander around the city and take in the atmosphere of this last day, all over the city every ´casal´ has its closing party, many of them celebrating by making paellas in the street, and many having their own mini-Mascletàs which follow the Main (and last) Mascletà in the Ayuntamiento. A very noisy and emotional day.
Moros and Cristianos
A slow march of elaborately costumed men and women representing the Moors and Christians - . This can be caught around the Marqués del Turia at 19.00 hours on the 19th !