Friday, 11 March 2011

Expat Excellence featuring Nick Snelling

This week author of Culture Spain Nick Snelling shares with us his experiences of Las Fallas one of the most bizarre festivals Spain has to offer. This year’s Las Fallas starts next week, so if you are an expat in Spain make sure you don’t miss out!

Las Fallas one of Spain's most astonishing Fiestas!

Do you like the outrageous, the bizarre - the crazy?

Do you want to experience something wonderful that will so charm and humour you that you will not forget it during your lifetime?

If the answer is yes! (even a cautious yes!) – then you simply have to go to Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain to see one of the greatest fiestas in the world. Certainly, Las Fallas is nothing if not memorable and will, at times, literally take your breath away.

But what is La Fallas, I hear you ask?

Well, that is a tough question to answer simply, given the sheer complexity and scale of the fiesta. But, maybe, it is sufficient to state that it is when the people of Valencia Province erect giant (up to four storeys high!) decorative effigies in their streets and squares – and then set fire to them!

However, that is only part of the story, which can mask the terrific range of activities that occur during the Las Fallas fiesta, which lasts five days (always between the 15th to 19th March each year).

Whilst the burning of the effigies called (ninots) takes place at night on the 19th March, there are days of fabulous parades and processions, accompanied by bands playing deliriously fine music. Everyone is dressed in traditional Valencian costume (nothing like Falmenco) with street parties seemingly on every street corner. Meanwhile, there are nightly firework displays that will astound you with their complexity and sophistication.

Of course, you must not miss one of the oddest events of all, which is the mascaletá. This is a concert of fireworks that occurs at 2pm every day in the main square of Valencia city.

Incredibly, the mascaletá has nothing whatsover to do with the visual effect of fireworks and everything to do with noise - so much so that there is a competition to see which mascaletá is the noisest. Orchestrated like a symphony, the noise during a mascaletá rises to deafening levels that would be condemned within a war zone and that will leave you vibrating like a tuning fork for the rest of the day!

Needless to say, the Valencians love of fireworks (they are great devotees of them) spreads throughout every part of the Province. Everywhere you go during Las Fallas there are cracks and bangs and explosions, from morning to night, as the entire province joins in the riotous celebrations.

For colour and sustained excitement, Las Fallas is exceptional and a wonderful example of Spanish brio at its most extreme and needs to be seen to be believed!

So, if you are not doing anything really special next week then come to Valencia and prepare to be amazed....

1 comment:

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