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Fallas Festival in Valencia Spain

French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, standing on top of the Eiffel Tower to kiss his wife, Carla Bruni

I love Google Alerts. Each day I open my inbox to a potential treasure trove of goodies. I have alerts for all kinds of topics that I am interested in, and it never ceases to amaze me with the information that I come across.

This morning it was the Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain, which just ended on Friday. The story showed up in my alerts for the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy. You may not have noticed, but I have not written about Nicholas very much lately.

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My Nicholas is seeing some troubles in France right now. There is an extremely important regional election happening right now that could make or break his political party, the UMP. The polls are showing that the Communist party is actually leading in several regions and it will be a big battle. In reality, this means that the PS (Socialist Party) will win.

Nicholas did not even show up for the last pre-election rally and it is suggested that the party is trying to keep him out of the spotlight. It seems his attempt at reforms are taking a toll on everyone (as I expected, it is very difficult to force change in France).

Added to that, the French just don't like his style. His romantic inclinations and “bling-bling” nature fly in the face of what a lot of French people deem appropriate behavior for their leader. Poor Nicholas.

Anyway, back to the Fallas Festival. Turns out there is a fascinating festival every year in Valencia, Spain. And apparently, it is one of the largest in the world. I had never heard of it, have you? It is the celebration of the final days of winter and the spring equinox which goes back to the Middle Ages. It is said that people did a sort of spring cleaning, throwing old wood and broken items which were used in large bonfires.

“Valencian carpenters used planks of wood to hang their candles on. These planks were known as parots. During the winter, these were needed to provide light for the carpenters to work by. With the coming of the Spring, they were no longer necessary, so they were burned.” (source HolaValencia.net)

The history continues with the parots being decorated and through the years that morphed into papier-mâché figures which are now put up throughout the city of Valencia during the festival. These figures cover all types of personas from political satires (à la Mr. and Mrs. Sarkozy in the photo above), movie and sports stars, you name it.

The festival ends with bonfires and a spectacular display of fireworks. Should be very exciting to see.

I have always wanted to go to Valencia as they are reputed to have the best Aquarium in all of Europe. Now I have two reasons to go!

More information on this fascinating event:

> “What is Fallas?” post on HolaValencia.net, it is from 2009, but it is still very good information.
> Falles (how it is referred to in Spanish) on Wikipedia

Has anyone out there been to Las Fallas?

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  1. Hi,

    I just wandering into your blog and had to comment on your post.

    If you ever have the opportunity to visit Valencia during Fallas, seize it ! You won’t sleep much though, because if the Spanish already live at night in general, during Fallas the festivities go on until daybreak ! 🙂 Besides the monuments (some up to 3 stories high and costing as much as 50.000 EUR for this year’s winning falla), another important aspect is the mascletà : from March 1 to 19, every day at 14.00 some 180 kg of (gun)powder is brought to explosion in a spectacular pyrotechnic display, turning the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for 7 minutes in the mecca of the thrill loving crowds. You have to live it to truly understand (see here for a mise en bouche) .

    Oh and definetely go to the Aquarium : it’s not only huge and beautiful but we also had diner in their under water restaurant among the fishes. Delicious fideua and fun setting (although a bit pricey).

  2. Indeed, if you’ve got the opportunity to go to Fallas, go for it!

    The monuments are really impressive, not to say monumental ;-). A small correction on Ingrid, the largest monuments costs surpass a million euros. All of the monuments -some 700, large and small alike- are set afire on the last night. Picture 15 metre high statues of paper and wood, drenched with fuel burning intensely in narrow streets between high apartment blocks.

    Next to that indeed the mascletas, large ones every day on the main square, and during the last few days smaller one next to all the monuments. Don’t think the smaller ones are kind, tose are the real punishment for the ears and gut! During these last days don’t expect having five minutes without hearing fireworks, the Valencians love them.

    In short, one insane festival, that anyone should experience at least once in their life.