Sunday, March 24, 2013

Las Falles

I thought I was going to Valencia.

I imagined a quiet seaside town with orange trees and crumbling old churches. However, I stepped off the bus into some kind of street-party-warzone-cartoon-dreamscape.

Las Fallas (Falles in the region's dialect) is Valencia's yearly festival celebrated with explosions of color, noise, light, art, and more noise. The things that make Falles different from anything you'll ever see/hear in Spain or the rest of the world:

1. Ninots and falles. These giant puppet/dioramas are both disney-esque and terrifying. Some make political or cultural statements, all are supremely awesome. They're also all several stories high.

2. La mascleta. In the middle of the day, we gathered in the Pla├ža de l'Ajuntament to watch the big fireworks show. If we thought we were going to see much, we were mistaken. Valencians care much more about the noise fireworks make, so this was a hearing experience. I didn't fight in World War I, but I imagine this is what it sounded like.

3. Falleres on parade. Every community decks out in their finest traditional dress and parades through the streets with their own band. There's not a parade route, mind you, just dozens of mini parades snaking through the city, sometimes crashing into each other and causing a general ruckus.


4. Lights: The neighborhood we stayed in had some of the best light displays, some of which had periodic light shows.

5. More fireworks! Part of the reason Falles keeps your heart racing is because everyone has bought fireworks and are setting them off every 2-3 minutes. We got in on the action and I can tell you that this stuff is so powerful that I'm surprised it's allowed in the EU.

6. All night street parties. People are in the streets all day and all night. Our neighborhood also hosted a ton of DJs and booths with food a drink. Who needs to go inside for a party?

6. La crema. The best part of Las Fallas apparently is when they burn everything to the ground. The weeks of hard work, the priceless works of street art, all go down in a blaze of glory. In a tribute to how little Valencians care about tourists, this happened on a Tuesday night, so we missed it. Poo.