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La Cridà 2009 – Opening Ceremony of Las Fallas

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Here a video of La Cridà 2009!

On February 22nd, Las Fallas was officially opened at La Cridà — a huge annual spectacle which takes place on the last Sunday of the month.

La-Crida-2009
crida-valencia

This year, tens of thousands of onlookers crowded into the spaces in front of the Torres de Serrano (location) to watch an acrobatic show, followed by the official opening speeches by the city’s mayor, Rita Bárbarez, and this year’s lovely Fallera Mayor, Marta Agustín Ferrando. And, this being Valencia, the festivities were concluded by a huge display of fireworks over the riverbed.

crida-fun-time

From our point of view, the acrobatics were alright but upstaged by the insane musical accompaniment. The band played intense orchestral heavy metal — the vengeful howling and aggression didn’t seem to fit the “happy” tone of La Cridà, but was undeniably entertaining.

la-puja-argentina
crida-show
puja-valencia
Puja-Fallas

The Fallera Mayor’s speech, clear and uplifting, joyfully called on Valencians to participate in their most important festival. After she finished, the crowd sang along to a Valencian anthem, and the resulting atmosphere on this beautiful, warm Sunday evening was invigorating.

Falleras-Serrano-2009
fallera-mayor-2009

And the fireworks — what’s there to say? Valencia regularly puts on the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen, and the Cridà’s was no exception. So that’s it! Fallas 2009 is officially underway… I hope we all survive it.

firework-crida

Stay tuned for a video of La Crida.

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February 23, 2009 at 8:08 pm Comments (5)

First 2pm Mascleta of Fallas Season 2009

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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!

Time for a siesta! Because later in the evening, the beginning of Fallas would be officially announced at La Cridà — the opening ceremony…

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February 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm Comment (1)

Despertà 2009 — Welcome to Hell, Kid

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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.

desperta-valencia

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.

firecracker-valencia

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.

fallera-desperta

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”.

desperta-dance

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.

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bomberos-Valencia
desperta-fire-clouds

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


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February 23, 2009 at 9:37 am Comments (17)

Corruption & Valencia – Francisco Camps on the Ropes

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Corruption and Valencia — they go together like peas in a pod. Particularly in developments along the coast, and especially during the long construction boom when everyone was destroying the environment & getting rich, corruption was simply how it worked. You grease my palm, I greenlight your project, and the good people of Benidorm get a wonderful theme park. Everyone wins.

But recently, the push to eradicate corruption and punish those officials engaged in it has become a national priority. And the avenging eye is now squarely focused on Valencia and its leader Francisco Camps.


Francisco Correa – ElPais.com

Details are hazy, and Camps hasn’t actually yet been accused of anything concrete; just “implicated in wrongdoing”. From what I understand, the investigations are centered on the shady dealings of business entrepreneur Francisco Correa (image right). This dude has had business dealings with a lot of members of the conservative Partido Popular, and the wide-ranging inquiry has implicated a large number of powerful party members.

The PP is, naturally, claiming that this is a witch hunt, orchestrated by the liberals to distract people from the financial crisis. Who knows? Certainly, the governing PSOE benefits politically from the proceedings. But organized conspiracy or no, I have one piece of advice for aspiring politicians of all stripes: Don’t associate with rich ‘business entrepreneurs’ that have long, greasy, slicked-back hair. There is no way that such a person, and everything he touches, isn’t corrupt.


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February 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm Comments (0)

Fallas Calendar 2009

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fallas-calendar-2009

Time is ticking down for Fallas in Valencia 2009. We’ve gathered most of the main events in a Fallas ’09 Calendar, which is available via a link in the main horizontal menu, or by clicking on the sample image below:

fallas-2009

Please email us if we’ve missed something.

And, we’ve got a question for you — we read about Paella competitions during Fallas but couldn’t pin down any specific information. Can you fill us in?

Link: Fallas Calendar

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February 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm Comments (2)

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