It was completely by chance that we arrived on the 2nd March. We should have realised something was happening as this is still not the main tourist season and the first 3 campsites we tried were all ‘complet’ or full, however the reason soon became apparent.
Every March Valencia gets ready to welcome the spring. The streets fill up with the hustle and bustle of the Fallas festival. This has been described as “the utmost expression of the merger of tradition, satire, art and sentimentality”. In other words, an excuse to PARTY.
This traditional festival dates back to the Middle Ages, when local carpenters piled up their winter cut-offs and burnt them in the street to honour the coming of spring and the life of their patron saint, Joseph, the “greatest carpenter of all”. The festival has come on a great deal since then and now attracts up to two million people each year.
I was woken from an afternoon power-nap by Lesley (who’d been busily researching whilst I was sleeping), saying we’ve got to get going there’s a parade starting in half an hour. So we caught a bus and got into the centre of the city just as the procession was about to start.
As the the first image shows the ninots themselves are huge papier-mâché figures that represent the different neighbourhoods in Valencia (of which there are over 350). Each is built by a team of specially contracted artists and some can be well over 15 metres high and cost up to 150,000 euros.
At first, ninots were given a human appearance by decorating them with old clothes, but in the mid-19th century, they started making them bigger and taller and improving their forms to convert them into decorative dolls.
Although what we saw was a mini parade, just a warm up for the main Fallas, it went on for about two hours at least.
Following it around gave us a good chance to see some of the city.
Valencia is a great city and we think it’s definitely a “Your my Favourite”……So far.
As it grew dark we decided to go and find a pinchos bar called Sagardi. As we enjoyed a glass of chilled Albarino inside, we continued to watch the parade outside before sampling some rather tasty food.
There is loads to see and do we just wished we had more time but we’ll be back to do the whole city justice. We did actually see more than we intended as we got lost and found the market hall at least twice before finding the correct route back to our bus stop!
But we’ll come back tomorrow….