Las Fallas is a week-long festival that culminates on St. Joseph's Day on March 19. On that day, all of the fallas throughout the city (about 500, according to Wikipedia) are burned down. These structures are true works of art, developed and designed over the course of the previous year. They usually tell stories, depict events, and feature famous (and notorious) people that have been in the news or have impacted Spain or Valencia during the past year. They range widely in size, with many being enormous- easily 6 or 7 stories tall. They are all colorful and beautiful political and social commentaries.
Throughout the week the entire city celebrates. I think it's difficult for most Americans to appreciate what I mean when I say the entire city celebrates, because there is really no equivalent to such a festival in the United States that I can think of. Even very large city festivals that I know of- Chinese New Year or Pride in San Francisco for example- last only one or two days, and only involve a fraction of the city's residents and are limited to a certain area of the city. But in Valencia, you may be surprised by a deafening firecracker around any street corner in the city. Down any narrow street, you may stumble upon a parade of falleras, accompanied by their own marching band. Scarcely an apartment in the city is safe from being subjected to loud music pounding through their walls until two or three in the morning. And the heart of the city constantly throbs with crowds of people and festive music, as the aromas of fried churros and bunuelos fill the air. The energy is electric.
I arrived on March 15 which gave me 5 days to join in the city-wide festivities. Though the weather was less than ideal- cold, cloudy, windy, and occasionally rainy- I spent many pleasant hours wandering the city streets with my cousin Paz, my mom and dad, and other relatives, admiring the many fallas we came across, and soaking in the energy and ambiance.
Below are a few photos I took that week. Although they cannot truly capture the energy, mood, or scale of the festival, I hope they will at least give you a little insight into a joyous celebration, half a world away (in the city where I was born and which will always be near to my heart) that you may otherwise have never known existed.