The Fallas festival must be one of the best known in Spain and it’s unique to Valencia. It happens every year around the feast of St Joseph on 19th March as it is said to have started when the carpenters of the city, whose patron is St Joseph, would clear out their workshops and burn their scraps of wood as part of their spring-cleaning.
From a community and religious perspective, local neighbourhoods form Fallas associations and contribute money throughout the year to commission huge sculptures made of wood and papier-mâché.
The female members of the association, called Falleras, dress in sumptuous costumes made of brocade and lace and parade through the streets, to bring floral tributes to a statue of the Virgin Mary in front of the Cathedral. Each association holds a street-party with their fallas sculpture on display and has a feast of paella, which they cook up on bonfires in the street.
What the visitors see are the parades of the enormous sculptures which are competing for prizes and the pyotechnical mania which grips the city, with the sculptures being burned and mascaletas or bangers being set off in the street as well as organised firework displays. The sculptures are like cartoons and are often a satire on political characters or situations and they all go up in flames at the end of the fiesta.
Unless you visit Valencia during the week of the Fallas festival, the closest you’ll get is a visit to the Museo Fallero, near the City of Arts and Sciences. Each year...
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