Spain’s long reputation of celebrations of bull running and tomato slinging is sure to take a back seat during Valencia’s biggest festivity of all. Las Fellas is a celebration that runs for the first 19 days of March and if you haven’t witnessed it make room in your travel plans to be apart of the city’s biggest celebration.
This charming mediterranean city is in full of anticipation of this monumental ceremony. Artists work year round to build replications of “fallas” that decorate every street corner and square. These impressive (sometimes six stories high) fallas are replicas from the eighteenth century when carpenters would burn their their leftovers in honor of Saint Joseph. These piles turned into statues of paper and wood. If you’re not too busy watching the artists you may find yourself marveling at the works of arts being created on the street corner.
The climax of this fiesta is arguably one of Spain’s largest display of fireworks. Suzanne Guedeke, a contributing writer for GoNomad had the pleasure of witnessing the festivities of Valencia’s most famous attraction first hand.
“There is a short moment of silence and then the pyrotechnic orchestrates a 15-minute ear deafening concert of 120 decibel explosions that shake the ground.
I feel like covering my ears, but people around me gesture that I should open my mouth; it takes the pressure off the eardrums. Here I am, my mouth wide open, the explosions determining my heartbeat. The smell of gunpowder penetrates the air; small pieces of ash land in my hair; babies start to cry; the explosions build up to an overwhelming finale. All I can do is cheer outrageously as the final explosions resonate between the buildings.”
To continue the celebration a parade to the city’s square in front of the Basilique to offer flowers to the patron saint of Valencia, Virgen de los Desamparados. The people dress in heavy traditional wardrobe and flowers in hand to create the shape of their beloved saint. I say beloved because Guedeke describes the Valencian people as being moved to tears when they reach their patron Saint.
This monumental exhibit is left on display for a few days while celebrates dance and party in the streets. The finishing touch of this celebration ends with la crema where all the fallas are burned only to be recreated for the following year’s celebration.