What is Fallas?

Ah, Sundays. There’s nothing better than sleeping in on a lazy Sunday morning, taking your time with breakfast, coffee, the paper. Disbelief and a gratifying sense of shame when you realize that it’s already 1:30 in the afternoon and you’re still in your pajamas. These Sunday morning hours were so peaceful, though! You can be forgiven for wasting them in a haze of comfort.


Wonderful when it happens, but not all Sundays are like this. And in Valencia, the last Sunday in February manages to achieve the polar opposite. It’s 7:30 in the morning, and you’re on the streets, in the middle of World War III.

The Despertà is Valencia’s annual wake-up call for Fallas — the region’s most important festival and one of the biggest in the world. At 7am, thousands of people belonging to organized groups (Fallas Commissions) gather at Parterre Park (location) to collect their ammunition bags for an assault on the city’s sleeping populace. And at 7:30am sharp, all hell breaks loose. These freaks just start throwing firecrackers everywhere.


And I’m not talking cute <pop!> cherry bombs. This is the real shit. 15 seconds into the “parade”, a piece of shrapnel caught me just under the eye. An ugly, fat kid laughed at me before throwing a mini-grenade under my feet. A zombie-eyed homeless guy snuck up behind me, then offered me a firecracker. I think I screamed, I’m not sure, my ears were reverberating, reality seemed skewed. I was beginning to panic, and the Despertà had just started.


But it didn’t take long to succumb to the insanity. By the parade’s end, both Juergen and I were gleefully stomping on unpopped firecrackers, and whipping them at onlookers we decided weren’t having enough “fun”.


As most Valencian parades tend to, the Despertà leads its psychotic participants to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the final act is a short, intense mascletà.


Got Fallas 2009 pictures? Please add them to the Flickr Fallas Group.

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"Despertà 2009 — Welcome to Hell, Kid" was published on February 23rd,2009 and is listed in Bizarre, Fallas.

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Comments on "Despertà 2009 — Welcome to Hell, Kid": 17 Comments

  1. Desperta 2009 – Welcome to Hell! | Random Good Stuff wrote,

    […] Link: Desperta Fallas 2009 […]

  2. Desperta / Fallas 2009 – Hölle in Valencia | Totalblogal wrote,

    […] Link: Desperta Fallas 2009 […]

  3. First 2pm Mascleta of Fallas Season 2009 | Hola Valencia Blog wrote,

    […] La Despertà wasn’t enough for the beginning of Fallas 2009 — nope, there had to be another Mascletà, at the more traditional time of 2pm. The last Sunday in February is a huge, busy day in the city. By the time this mascetà was over, we’d been awake for over 8 hours, seen two parades, and two fireworks displays, and watched a pelota tournament (Valencia’s official sport — don’t worry, we’ll post about that soon). And it was only just past 2! […]

  4. Jim wrote,

    Wow, nice pictures!

  5. Fablio wrote,

    I was last year in Valencia.
    I think it is one of the most beautifull citys in Spain
    OK, Spanish people are cow-boys and girls, but a thousend times more evoluated than Portugees people.

  6. valencia blog wrote,


    Not sure in what part of town you were hanging out. I think Valencians are super nice.

    Feel free to share you Valencia pictures on our Flickr Group: http://flickr.com/groups/holavalencia/

  7. Internet Headlines: A-Z | Rocketboom wrote,

    […] 10 Reasons Why The TV Studios Will Die, North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel: Ugliest Building on Earth?, Despertà 2009 — Welcome to Hell, Kid, Water Jet Flyer, I’m going to be frozen when I die, says X Factor guru Simon […]

  8. pierre wrote,

    hum. Yeah, funny. But living in Taiwan, I’m not impressed.
    Have a glance at the local, yearly Yen Shui festival:
    (poor video, but you get the idea).

  9. valencia blog wrote,


    I want to go there too. Insane! It’s surely a different caliber. But considering that this was just the awakening of the city and Fallas goes for 19 days – our Festival here is not too shabby either.

    If you happen to go to Yen Shui again – please shoot couple of high quality images and videos. I would love to post those on my high traffic entertainment blog.

  10. Las Fallas - part 2 of 3 : Eat In Valencia wrote,

    […] to mark the official opening of the festivities that is well documented on a great blog site, Hola Valencia. Given that I was asleep so early last night, I was actually looking forward to the early morning […]

  11. Hostels Valencia wrote,

    ha, ha, ha, ha “Welcome to Hell Kid” this is definitly a good title explaining whats happening what it is……I would say “Mascleta” is deeper down in Hell than “desperta”

  12. What is Fallas? | Hola Valencia Blog wrote,

    […] La Despertà […]

  13. Fire Cracking Fine Art | Random Good Stuff wrote,

    […] Fireworks Links: La Despertà / Color Mascletà / Grand Mascletà Napolitana / Nit de […]

  14. Schießpulver macht Kunst | Totalblogal wrote,

    […] mehr Feuerwerk: La Despertà / Color Mascletà / Grand Mascletà Napolitana / Nit de […]

  15. Valencia And Other Fiestas - The Spain Forums wrote,

    […] […]

  16. FALLAS 2010 | Random Good Stuff wrote,

    […] 48 more days and I will be annoying you again with Fallas from Valencia. On February 29th is the charming awakening of the city and the events will be going on and on until the main days which are from March 15th and […]

  17. 1. Farben Mascletà Fallas 2010 « Valencia Blog wrote,

    […] Schießpulver von Fallas kann man fast schon riechen und da die Despertà am letzten Tag des Monats ist sind jetzt schon einige Fallas Events. Wie zum Beispeil die Kinder […]

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