Tuesday, 23rd April 2019
COVER FEATURE | TRAVEL & TOURISM Article
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This Month's Magazine
A time to let your hair down

A time to let your hair down

The most extravagant Carnival in Spain takes place in Valencia

This year Easter is very late and so is the most celebrated pagan party in the world, which must happen and end before lent.

The Rio Carnival is celebrated from the 4th to the 8th March, in Venice 26th Feb to 8th March and in Spain from 18th February to 8th March. They all end before Ash Wednesday on the 9th March, all except in Valencia, where the Carnival starts on the 1st March and extends to the 19th March with the main events taking place from the 15th March, to celebrate the feast of St. Joseph (father’s day in Spain).

This is a time when Valencia is given over to a carnival of bonfires, fiestas, fireworks and a healthy dose of satire known as Las Fallas, the fires.

Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the most spectacular, complete fiesta on earth. La Crida marks the official opening of the Fallas Festival. Crowds of onlookers and all the Fallas Committees gather beneath the Serranos Towers, one of historical Valencia’s best-known monuments, usually on the last Sunday in February. After a spectacular inaugural display of light, sound, music and fireworks, the “Fallera Mayor” of Valencia (elected festival queen),surrounded by her Court of Honour and the city authorities, invites everyone to enjoy the imminent fiesta, proclaiming its excellence and virtues.


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If you visit Valencia for the first time during Fallas, you will probably think it is total chaos, you won’t know where to sleep if you haven’t booked in advance, how to get here, where you can park, or even when the shops open while the fiesta is on. Displayed on every corner all over the city are colourful ninots, giant papiermâché figures often 20 feet tall or even more that have been paraded through the streets and then placed in casual groups towering over the excited spectators. Each one satirises a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or are simply imaginary. Some of them are grotesque – others playful and charming – all are larger than life.

Every day at 2pm firecrackers rip through the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in a noisy event called la Mascletá. This concert of explosions is very popular and involves different neighbourhood groups competing for the most impressive volley, ending with the terremoto, (which literally means “earthquake”) as hundreds of mascletas explode simultaneously. While this may not be for the frail or faint-fainthearted, you understand how hearted, the Valencians got their valiant name.

Another important event is the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados, a beautiful ceremony every March 17th and 18th that honours Valencia’s patron Virgin. Thousands of Falleras and Falleros arrive to the city from every corner of the Comunitat (Valencia State) and take to the streets wearing traditional costumes and dancing to their neighbourhood or village bands as they make their way to the Plaza de la Virgen to offer bouquets to the giant image of the Virgin.

Historians say that the origins of the festival goes back to the time when carpenters cleared out their workshops at the end of winter, throwing out odds and ends of wood and old candles and lighting them on the street the day of Saint Joseph.



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