This March saw 10 of the Electrify team go on a short break away to Valencia, home to the Las Fallas festival. Las Fallas (which literally translates into “The Faults”) is a celebration in commemoration of St Joseph and the coming of Spring.
It didn’t feel very spring-like when we flew out of the snow in England, but it warmed up as we landed in Spain. We drove into Valencia in the early hours of the morning, just as they were firing one of their nightly firework displays – it was a sight to behold for us pyro-geeks, even if the road to our hotel was closed and then we were suddenly swamped by thousands of people walking back.
Firework displays and Mascleta are held daily from the start of the festival on the 1st March until the final day on the 19th March which is known as La Crema – more about Mascleta’s and La Crema later.
Las Fallas – The Faults
As part of the Las Fallas festival each Valencian neighbourhood creates a Falla which is a giant statue made out of wood, paper and polystyrene. These are designed and created by artists and as you can see from our photos are absolutely stunning. They often depict a satirical situation and characters from Sports, the news and politics. There are around 400 across Valencia and these remain in place until the night of La Crema on the 19th when they are spectacularly set alight and burnt in the streets. UK Health & Safety would go mad!
Our HSE inspectorate would also go mad if they saw the children of Valencia setting light to fireworks and bangers in the streets. We saw children as young as 4 years old lighting them, and of course being big kids ourselves we headed straight off to the firework shop to get some too!
The highlight of the trip for all of us was the daily Mascleta. This is a daylight firework display in the City Square. Set off from inside a giant cage, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of spectators. Unlike a usual firework display a Mascleta is an aural experience, characterised by hundreds of firecrackers and loud shells fired in a rhythmic fashion to create an almost musical composition. This builds throughout the display until the final “earthquake” which is hard to experience without wanting to put your fingers in your ears.
The sheer noise and soundwaves pushes your eardrums inwards, the shockwaves pulse through your chest and you can feel your clothing being pushed backward such is the force. As well as this there’s the strong unmistakable smell of the fireworks and smoke that blocks out the sun – unfortunately there are no words that can describe it, it’s one you have to experience, and the crowds cheer as the display crescendos (you can’t hear them, you can’t hear anything for about 90 minutes afterwards apart from tinnitus) signifies just what the Valencian’s think of this amazing Spanish tradition. I can tell you, it reduced more than one of our group to tears!
On the night of the 19th March and into the early hours of the 20th all of the Fallas models in the neighbourhoods are burnt. Luckily the fire brigade are close at hand as they burn incredibly quickly and fiercely, and many of the buildings close by have to be hosed down in order to stop the fire spreading. The artist and all those involved from the neighbourhood are present to watch the Fallas burn. It really is a sight to behold and the atmosphere is electric.
So much more to see…
There was much, much more of the festival to see such as the Falleros in their traditional costumes and La Offrenda – the offering of flowers to the Lady of our Forsaken in the square. However, it was all of the fireworks, the Mascleta, the night of fire and the persistent letting off of bangers all through the night that meant we went 4 days with very little sleep that just blew us away. We were pyrogeeks in pyro-heaven!
Check out our photos and facebook page @ElectrifyFireworksPALights & PA Hire for more details – we’d definitely recommend Las Fallas for anyone who loves a party…and fireworks!!! www.electrifypyrotechnics.co.uk