Wednesday, April 28, 2021


This is a picture postcard from a memorable visit to Fallas in Valencia, Spain. Fallas commemorates Saint Joseph, and the tradition is celebrated March 1-19. Last year's Fallas was cancelled due to COVID. A 2021 date has not been set, but late summer is a possibility. It's the longest Fallas cancellation since the Spanish Civil War. It's also the longest time I've spent organizing things, like these photos from 2013. I'm in San Diego right now, but my heart is in Valencia. Here I am in front of the Valencia Cathedral.

It's hard to describe the spectacular monuments, also called fallas, decorating the streets of Valencia. They are made of wood, papier-mache, and other combustible materials. Spoiler alert: they will all be burned to the ground at the end of Fallas. Every neighborhood in the city builds a main falla and a children's falla. The children's fallas are my favorites, especially this one with a music theme.

My sister Sandra bottom left corner. Love her!


The main fallas are up to five stories tall. They are often outrageous satires criticizing politics or society. Here's one under construction during the days leading up to La Planta, on the 15th day, when all of the fallas must be completed.

There are about 400 neighborhoods, or casals, so that's about 800 fallas all over the city. And yes baby, they will all burn.

The casals celebrate in the streets.

It's a good place for paellas.

So is Mary Tere's home. The family gave me with a warm welcome and traditional fallas attire. Pepe donned his fallero costume. Irene's paella was epic.

Meanwhile, back outside, the street party continues day and night. Brass bands march, and if you did get to sleep, you'll be awakened by La Desperta at 8 a.m.

The beautiful falleras parade.

The falleras cover La Virgin with carnations. 

L'Ofrena de flors is a solemn moment at the cathedral and many a tear is shed.

At 2 p.m. every day, pyrotechnics are an artform in the Plaza Ayuntamiento. We were lucky enough to get the perfect vantage point for the final Mascleta on March 19th.

People gather from all over the world. Fallas is highly profitable for the city. Can you spot the main falla? It will be the last to burn. 

Main falla:

A panoramic view:

La Mascleta display is a symphony of fireworks.

More family time.

More favorite fallas.

The city is illuminated.

Credit to Mark for taking most of the photos. Here he is enjoying churros and chocolate.

The gothic Torres de Serranos date back to the 14th century. Behold one of the gates that formed the ancient city wall.

Nighttime fireworks light up the skies over the old Valencia riverbed.

Beware the petardos! Firecrackers explode everywhere. One must be on alert for the blast of an M-80 going off nearby at any time. Children play with firecrackers.

It all builds up to the big finale. La Crema. 'Round midnight on March 19th, the fallas go up in flames. Fallas translates to torches. Each falla is first lit with fireworks, and then burned in a huge bonfire. The bomberos are standing by.


Main falla burning:

As this fallera mayor walks away, Fallas comes to an emotional ending. 

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