Valencia, eastern Spain
March 15 – March 19 (display of sculptures)
Welcome to Spain’s noisiest festival. It may well date back to the middle ages, and at some stage it was moved to coincide with St Joseph’s Day. St Joseph is the patron saint of carpenters, which gives you a clue as to what this spectacular festival is about. The ‘fallas’ refer to wooden sculptures*, always lovingly created and often gigantic, which parade around the streets of Valencia. The parades take place in March, but the sculptures themselves, some of which are made out of papier maché and cardboard, as well as wood, have been long in the making – many take a whole year to put together. They tend to have a satirical theme, and are created by groups of friends or by local societies, who organise fund raising events throughout the year – often in the form of dinners, where the local dish paella features strongly. When you see the intricate detail and sheer beauty of some of these wooden structures you’ll understand why fund raising is necessary! The festival gets underway at 8am, and at 2pm an extraordinarily loud firecracker display takes place. When the fallas come out they too let off their own firecrackers, and the louder the better. Then, on the final night all the fallas are burned. Well, all except the one voted winner.