The Fallas festival

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Las Fallas - the final night

Las Fallas – the final night

Fireworks always draw the crowds and in huge numbers witness the numbers watching the new year firework displays in London, Sydney and other places around the world.

So it will not surprise readers that the annual Las Fallas festival in the Spanish city of Valencia draws tens of thousands of visitors this month. From March 1st, every afternoon at 2pm in the town hall square, mascletás, noisy firework displays take place that act as curtain raisers for the main event.

During the months before the festivities start, people have been busy creating huge cardboard sculptures called ninots. The origin of the celebration goes back to the carpenter’s parot: these were wooden lamps used to light their workshops in winter, which they would burn out in the street on the night before the feast of San José. At first they would make them look like human forms by decorating them with old clothes and fabric like we do with Guy Fawkes’ images. In the mid-19th century, however, they began to increase in size and height and to improve their forms, becoming huge decorative statues.

When the night of the 15th March finally arrives, it is time for the traditional plantà of the fallas. People work all night to erect more than 700 statues in the city’s streets and squares. On the morning of 16th, Valencia dawns with its streets inhabited by caricatures and satirical representations that criticise.

Another part of the Fallas celebrations is the floral offering to the Virgin Mary. When the Fallas organisations parade on 17 and 18 March in honour of the Virgin, they create a mountain of flowers 14 metres high.

But the 19th is the key date in the calendar. This is the day when the statues are set alight accompanied by lights, music and fireworks. All are burnt except one ninot which has been elected to be reprieved. That one joins the collection at the Fallero Museum where a year from now, another will join it from the 2016 celebrations.

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