Celebrating Spanish Tradition – Las Fallas
Las Fallas is undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching & unique festivals in Spain. Every March, the city of Valencia prepares to welcome a new spring season with a festival of true heritage, held in commemoration of Saint Joseph. The usually-quiet city has a population of just over 1 million, but expands its horizons to an estimated three million pyrotechnic lovers for the annual celebration.
The Fallas of Valencia, otherwise known as Las Fallas brings Valencian people together in tradition and sentiment, where giant structures, known as ‘ninots’ are built before being scorched to signal the end of winter & start of spring.
A group of people from each Valencian neighbourhood, otherwise known as ‘comissió fallera’, are tasked with year-round parties & dinners to raise funds for the project. Each group produce a ‘ninot’ (constructed using flammable materials such as cardboard, wood, paper-machè and plaster statues) which is then paraded around the city for four days in the build up to the main event.
Popular themes for the ‘ninots’ are usually lifelike structures that depict current events, corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities. Many of these are several stories tall and need to be moved into over 350 locations around the city using cranes on the day of rising, also known as ‘la plantà’.
The structures remain in place until ‘La Cremá’ (the scorching finale) on March 19th, the fourth & final day of the event. On this day, the ‘ninots’ are then cleverly stuffed with explosive fireworks in the early evening by men.
Crowds of thousands, scattered across the city, then gather for the ‘Falles’ spectacle, when streetlights are turned off ready for the traditional blaze to light up the night sky. On the stroke of midnight each ‘ninot’ is then set ablaze to the delight of the crowd.
Each year, one lucky ‘ninot’ is spared from destruction by vote of the public. This structure is called the ‘ninot indultat’, meaning the pardoned puppet, and is exhibited in the local ‘Museum of the Ninot’ along with others from past years.