The “Fallas” are without a doubt one of the most important festivals or “fiestas” in Spain, and maybe one of the best known abroad, but even if you have heard or read about them, if you have seen pictures or even watched a report on TV, if you haven’t been there you don’t have the remotest idea of what they are about.
Imagine an entire city (and not a small one at that), completely collapsed for four (ok, maybe five or six) days, with all the central streets, squares and main arteries closed to the traffic, and occupied by strange monuments, several meters high, made of wood and painted papier mache. Imagine that some of these huge group sculptures are tender and moving, some comic and satirical, some criticize the current political events, some vindicate a perceived unfairness… but all of them are beatiful and awesome, and amazing.
Imagine that during these days, the streets are literally crowded night and day with people laughing and partying and lighting firecrackers, many of them dressed in the traditional 18th century costumes; that there is music and dancing and fireworks every night, and something called “La Mascletà” at midday that, for lack of a better word, is a 10 minutes long symphony of timed explosions of very loud firecrackers- at the end, the sound is so loud that you can feel it reverberate inside of you, whilst you breathe in the smell of gunpowder. It may sound intimidating, and even scary -believe me, it is- but the sensation is indescribable and truly worth living.
And then, on the 19th of March, at midnight, when you really think that you cannot take in more noise, more light, more dance, more laugh, more fun, more excitement…every “Falla” (and there are almost 700 in Valencia) is set on fire and burnt to ash.