A major part of Fallas is its competitions. Paella championships, sports tournaments, fallera pageants, and of course the selection of the year’s best monuments. But the most dazzling battle takes place on the streets of Ruzafa… or rather, above them. Every year, a few casales compete to erect the city’s most mind-blowing streetlights.
The plantà on March 15th seems like a magical occurrence. Just as on Christmas morning, when children come downstairs to find presents under their tree, Valencians come onto the streets to find gigantic monuments erected all about their city. We visited the Ciutat Fallera, where a community of artists work as hard as elves, all year round, creating the monuments of Fallas.
Before they’re placed within their Falla, the best ninots from every Fallas commission are displayed in the annual Exposición del Ninot at the Museum of Science. Like so much at Fallas, this is a competition… and from the ninot’s point of view, the prize is of utmost importance. The best one, as chosen by the general public, will be spared the flames of the Cremà.
Who doesn’t love fireworks? The color, the sound, the visual spectacle? Of course, we can all agree that they’re wonderful. But, who still loves fireworks minus the color and the visual spectacle, leaving only the sound? Hmmm, not many of you have kept your hands up… just a bunch of maniacs wearing blue and white handkerchiefs. Let me guess: you’re the Valencians.
The unofficial sport of Valencia is pilota, a type of handball played in long halls known as trinquets. This fast-moving game is like a mix between volleyball and tennis, but looks a lot more painful than either of those.
Every year, regular life in Valencia comes to a screeching halt, as the city gives itself over to Fallas: a spectacular celebration of art, light, noise and fire that runs from the end of February to March 19th. It’s a festival unlike any other, and comprises so many different elements that we felt a concise explanation might in order. What is Fallas, exactly?
The last Sunday of February is a busy day in Valencia. It starts early with the despertà, which awakens the city with a bang. There are events throughout the day, including pilota matches, marching bands, and a mascletà in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. But Fallas doesn’t officially begin until the evening, with the celebration of the Cridà.
It’s the last Sunday of February. You’ve purposefully forgotten to set your alarm clock, hoping to luxuriate a few extra minutes in the deep sleep of early morning. As you nestle in your comforter, drowsy as can be, Valencia looks upon your resting figure with a smile. But it’s not a smile of maternal tenderness… in fact, it’s more of a smirk. And then the explosions start.