Early on the morning of March 15th, before the sun has even appeared in the sky, the artists of Valencia are hard at work. This is the day of La Plantà, when hundreds of fallas monuments are erected throughout the city.
If you’re planning on driving through Valencia on the 15th, forget it. Seriously, find a place to park and forget about your car for the next few days. Because between the Plantà on the 15th of March and the Cremà on the 19th, Valencian streets belong to Fallas. The neighborhood casales have already erected their tents along many of the roads, and now the intersections have been claimed as well. There’s no use complaining; nobody has much sympathy for drivers during Fallas. You’ll just have to sit there, fuming behind the wheel, watching the rest of us drink, dance and shoot off firecrackers.
Many of the biggest monuments begin preparing for their plantà well before the 15th, owing to the logistics — it would be impossible to transport and construct these towering monuments within a single morning. The days before the plantà are possibly our favorite of Fallas; it’s before the crowds get truly overwhelming, and you can see pieces of the monuments laying around; their heads and body parts, all wrapped in plastic, kind of like a giant, colorful crime scene.
The act of the plantà usually begins as one big party — falleros are working, but having fun as well. But as the day wears on, things can get serious. Any monument not fully constructed by 8am on March 16th will be disqualified from the competition. And after a full year’s worth of work, this is a bitter failure, and it happens more frequently than you might imagine.
For visitors, though, the stakes are not so high. To walk around Valencia during the Plantà is to be endlessly entertained. We always try and check out the scene at a few of the biggest monuments, as well as the smaller ones in our neighborhood. Fallas has been already going on for weeks, but this is the event which kicks the festival into high gear.