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​​​​​​​​​Noise and fire at the Fallas (and more)

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Spring is in the air, firecrackers sound and the smell of gunpowder stretches almost from the port of Valencia... the Fallas have erupted! But don't think for a moment that the City of Valencia's Fallas are the only ones: get your car on the ferry and you'll see that from 15th to 19th March, dozens of towns in Castellón, Alicante and the Valencia region celebrate the arrival of the new season with art, humour, fire, noise and lots of fun.
Mascletá Valencia 2013

1.Valencia

On 19th March the Valencia night burns during the climax of La Cremá. The fire consumes over 750 fallas (both by children and adults, made by around 400 Fallas committees or groups) in various parts of the city in a finale that impresses those who see it for the first time: gigantic flames take away all negativity and the city rises from the ashes. But before the big night of the Fallas, a recognised international tourist attraction, there are many things happening in Valencia. Here's a little guide so you don't miss anything.

Ninot Exhibition: art in papier mâché.As the days go by, we can see a small sample of the Fallas monuments, some of which are exquisite: creations that blend art, satire and social criticism in large polystyrene, wood and papier mâché structures. Each Fallas committee chooses a "ninot" (puppet) for their falla to display from early February to 15th March in the exhibition which is held on the esplanade of the Nuevo Centro shopping centre (Avenida Pio XII, 2). From this collection, by popular vote, one adult ninot and one children's ninot are pardoned; both are saved from the flames and will become part of the Museo Fallero (Monteolivete, 4). In addition to all these ninots, the centre shows images of the best fallas from each year. It is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and tickets cost 2 euros; Sundays and holidays (from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) admission is free. Throughout the preceding week, there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy a paella callejera. On day 7, for example, there are two options: at noon, at the falla of Vicente Sancho-Tello Chile; and, at night, at the falla of Archduke Charles-Chiva. The registration fee, for those without fallas, is 5 euros. Here a magical phenomenon occurs: the rice always turns out well, no matter how huge the dish.

paella valencia

The mascletá!!Looking back at the calendar, beginning on 1st March there is a daily event at 2 p.m. at Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The noise and the smell of gunpowder conquer the city centre with the mascletá, where hundreds of firecrackers explode before the eyes of thousands of Valencians. The noise never stops in Valencia during this time. Don't panic if very early in the morning you hear explosions anywhere in the city. It's the despertà, not as well known as the mascletá, but just as noisy.

The plantá: the fallas take to the streets. Fallas Week kicks off on 15th March and during the early hours of 15th to 16th March, the "falleros" work busily on the plantá, i.e. the placement of the fallas. In the morning, the 760 large and small monuments add colour and excitement to the streets of Valencia and are on show to everyone until the 19th. Take a wander through the capital and enjoy the best monuments, works of art that will burn on the 19th. Some of the most spectacular ones, including within the so-called Special Section, are the fallas of Na Jordana, Plaza del Pilar, Convento Jerusalén, Almirante Cadarso-Conde Altea, Regne de València and Sueca-Literato Azorín. The City of Valencia Tourist Office offers guided tours.

Fireworks. A party in Valencia is not a party without fireworks. From 15th to 18th March, at midnight, the Paseo de la Alameda shines, glows and explodes in noise and light. Fireworks attract thousands of Valencians and visitors in a show that takes on gigantic proportions on the 19th: the Nit del Foc offers an exhibition that is probably unique in the world.
​​nit del foc

Time to take a break? Music, firecrackers, fireworks... a little relaxation wouldn't go amiss. A "planazo": walking along the Playa de la Malvarrosa and the Port, renovated for the 2007 Copa America. Here you'll witness the growing fashion of skating. And in March, at snack time, take your lead from the Valencians, who have just one question on their minds: hot chocolate with doughnuts or a fresh horchata? The best solution is to try both, as a final tribute to winter before welcoming the good weather. At Fabián (Císcar, 5) we can savour a delicious horchata and a hot chocolate. At El Siglo, between Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de Santa Catalina, you will find more delicious horchata and classic fartons. Then it's party time again.

And where are the "falleras"? The traditional costume spectacle reaches its peak on 17th and 18th March, when the falleras take part in the floral offering to Our Lady of the Forsaken. The Fallas committees arrive on foot from their neighbourhoods at the Plaza de la Virgen, from 4 p.m. and well into the night. A 15-metre tapestry is composed of bouquets, and the robe of Our Lady is decorated with carnations.;

The great night of La Cremá. Fire. Light and heat. It may seem a contradiction, but the many months of work that the Falla artists put in make sense when it all disappears. On the night of 19th March, everything in Valencia burns, and it is the greatest moment of the year. La Cremá, or burning, of the children's fallas begins at 10 p.m.; half an hour later the winner of the first prize of the Special Section of Valencia is set alight, and at 11 p.m. the children's falla of Plaza del Ayuntamiento also burns. The process is repeated with the big fallas: at midnight all the fallas burn, then the one chosen as the best of all and, finally, to close the festivities, the town hall's falla is set alight. The night fades in Valencia and the party is over, but the circle of life begins again. Hello spring!
Quema de ninot

Every year a million and a half tourists (more and more each day) come to the Fallas of Valencia, which you might find a bit overcrowded. If so, get in your car and drive. You don't have to travel far to find other Fallas of great quality, but without the hustle and bustle.

2.Sagunto

The Fallas de Sagunto, a national tourist attraction, are another explosion of light and thunder just half an hour north of Valencia (on the V-21 motorway). La Cabalgata de Humor Fallero, La Plantá and the offering of flowers to Our Lady of the Forsaken are the most representative events, not forgetting, of course, La Cremá: around 60 fallas that use irony and satire to depict scenes of political and social life are burnt together in huge bonfires. Not everything is burned, because one ninot is pardoned here as well. And you might not know: the beach of Puerto de Sagunto is among the best in the Valencia region. Like that of Canet d'En Berenguer, just a stone's throw away.

3. Alzira

If you drive 35 minutes from Valencia (southwards along the V-31 and A-7), you can discover the Fallas in Alzira, also declared a national tourist attraction. The Fallas committees build 70 monuments that will also burn on March 19th, but on the biggest days of the festival (from the 16th) there are many other activities. With the smell of gunpowder and traditional doughnuts in the air, the floral offering to Our Lady of Lluch, a parade of costumes and, above all, the revelry of the streets are the main attractions. The casales (large carnival booths) and verbenas (fairs) welcome visitors until dawn.

4. Dénia

The Dénia Fallas are undoubtedly among the most spectacular in the province of Alicante. From Valencia you have to drive a little over an hour along the AP-7 to enjoy fiestas that include, of course, mascletás, parades, music and La Cremá. The big difference with this night is that the fallas burn in stages (from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m.), a great idea so you can see all of the monuments in flames. Another great idea is to enjoy the beach - it's so long that it connects with the beach in neighbouring Oliva.
falleras de Denia

5. Gandía

The AP-7 takes us in less than an hour to Gandía in the south of the province of Valencia. Besides watching burning fallas, in this town you can find other traditional events such as parades by the Fallas committees through the city accompanied by bands. In Gandía, there is another important tradition attended by the falleros and falleras: the procession and the subsequent mass celebrated in honour of San José in the collegiate. These fiestas are also national tourist attractions. As is the celebrated Playa Norte, just a few kilometres from the centre, measuring nearly three kilometres, with an 85-metre stretch of sand. If the weather is good, there is nothing quite like enjoying a drink on the terrace and taking a break from the festive fire.

6. Xàtiva

Towards the interior, still in the province of Valencia, along the A-7, in 45 minutes we arrive at Xátiva, where some Fallas are celebrated that have the status of regional tourist attraction. Here 18 large fallas are created, plus many small ones, two municipal ones and others created by colleges and pensioners' associations: the fiesta has taken place since 1865. Before the big night of La Cremá, Xátiva enjoys activities such as a drama contest, giant paella, cavalcades, parades, flower offerings, exhibitions and concerts.

7.Burriana

Simply take the road to Sagunto (and drive a little further) to reach Burriana in about 45 minutes. It's worth getting to know the fiestas in this village, the Fallas flagship in the province of Castellón. The Fallas tradition in Burriana dates back to 1928, when a group of neighbours decided to erect in the current Plaza de la Merced what would be the city's first monument. Almost one hundred years later, on March 19th, 36 fallas burn in La Cremá.

8. Benicarló

We are talking about very recent Fallas, which started in 1973, but with great artistic quality. In Benicarló (Castellón), 140 km from Valencia (one and a half hours on the AP-7), after a week of firecrackers, rockets, fireworks and mascletás, 13 precious Fallas monuments are burned.
Fallas de Benicarló- ninot

9. Castellón de la Plana

It's not just Fallas in the Valencia region in the month of March. The capital of Castellón (less than an hour's drive from Valencia on the AP-7) celebrates the Fiestas de la Magdalena, a declared international tourist attraction. They last nine days, starting on a Saturday (this year, 7th March) with rockets and mascletás. The most emotional moment is on the first Sunday at the pilgrimage of les Canyes. Thousands of people flock to the shrine on the hill of La Magdalena, about eight kilometres from Castellón, and when walking back at night they light up the gaiatas, the distinctive feature of these fiestas. It is a five-metre-high illuminated monument representing the staffs and lanterns which, according to tradition, the first pilgrims used to light the way. In addition to the fireworks, don't miss the Nit Mágica, on Tuesday, with the great fire-running show.
Imagen de los Correfocs.

Welcome spring in the festive mood it deserves!


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