There are two good reasons to go to Valencia in March. One is the sunshine – escaping the lengthy northern winter is often why people hop on a cheap flight to the reliably warm south of Spain. The other is Las Fallas, literally the fires. To mark the end of winter and the coming of spring each year, Valencia goes crazy with fireworks and fires. Pretty well every day in the first weeks of March at 2pm in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the main square, firecrackers go off in a cacophony of noise known as La Mascleta leading up to Saint Joseph’s Feast Day, March 19th.
Saint Joseph is the patron saint of workers and carpenters and according to history Las Fallas began as the day carpenters spring-cleaned their workshops and set fire to all their offcuts and old candles. March 17th and 18th are also important days with the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados, the offering of flowers to the Virgin of the Forsaken, the patron saint of Valencia. People in traditional costume – Falleras and Falleros – parade and dance through the streets. Each year a Fallera Mayor is elected, a great honor but also an expensive one as these ornate dresses can cost thousands of dollars.
March 19th 2012 is the Nit del Foc, the Night of Fire, and Fallas will burn all over the city as people dance. What is a falla exactly? Well, it means both a community formed of local neighbors who all help each other out, and the wood and paper sculptures that are made during the year to be paraded and burnt during the Fallas Festival. So as well as a lot of smoke and flame and pageantry, what you’ll see – and be part of – is a celebration of community spirit. Now that’s a good reason for a four day party.