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Paseo de las Rocas 2010

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Crazy weather tried, but wasn’t able to totally dampen the Corpus Christi festivities this year, and we made sure to show up for at the Palacio Arzobispal for the Paseo de las Rocas.

Close your eyes, and imagine a magical land called Pony Paradise, where diminutive horses are fed sugared hay on cotton candy sticks, and get deep horse-muscle massages from enslaved jockey midgets.

Corpus Christi 2010

Now open your eyes again, because the Paseo de las Rocas is the exact opposite of Pony Paradise. It is HORSEY HELL. At the Palacio Arzobispal, the smallest horses are selected to drag the mammoth Rocas up the hill. Fat, sadistic Valencians “encourage” them with vicious stick beatings, laughing as the ponies bray and buckle under the weight, sometimes collapsing onto their knees.

Naturally, it’s one of my favorite events! I always make sure to show up early, to jeer at the stupid ponies and take pictures of their hilarious suffering. Hey now don’t look at me that way, my family was slaughtered by a wild band of crazy horses. They are my enemies.

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June 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm Comments (4)

Corpus Christi 2010

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Corpus Christi Valencia

The festivities for Corpus Christi, one of Valencia’s most important holidays, get underway tomorrow and run through the weekend. Huge statues, creepy white-robed ladies, elaborately decorated balconies and unfairly burdened ponies are just some of the things you can expect. Here’s a quick rundown of the main events:

Saturday, June 5th
all day – The Rocas, centuries-old wooden structures which illuminate the “mysteries” of the Catholic faith will be on display all day.
19:00 – Performance of “The Mysteries” in the Plaza de la Virgen. If memory serves, it’s mainly for and by children.
23:00 – Concert by the Valencian Municipal Band in the Plaza de la Virgen. They’re always worth catching, especially if it’s a pleasant summer evening.
00:00 – Festive parade during which the best-decorated balconies are awarded prizes.

Sunday, June 6th
9:00 – Bell concert from the Miguelete, the bell tower of the city cathedral. You say “concert”, I say “maddening cacophony”.
12:00Cabalgata del Convite. Really, if you see just one parade this year in Valencia, make it this one. With crazy costumes, including La Moma, fun dancing and lively music, this is the most fun parade I’ve ever seen. Stand along Calle Avellanas, to see Herod’s henchmen get drenched with water from the balconies… just don’t stand too close if you want to stay dry.
16:30 – The 2nd of the day’s parades is the Paseo de las Rocas, when tiny horses carry the enormous Rocas through the city streets. As the parade comes around the Palacio Arzobispal, bets are made on whether the smallest horse in each convoy can drag its Roca up the slight hill. It’s exciting and cruel.
17:30 – Dance of the giants in the Pl. Virgen. Huge figures and groups of costumed people dance around the plaza. Last year, we met two wild-eyed Catholic German girls here, who tried to convert us to their faith.
19:00 – Solemn Procession of the Corpus. Alright kids, the fun is over, and this dreary parade lives up to its name. Women in black and men in suits walk solemnly down the street, on their way to the cathedral.

It’s a lot; a lot of parades, music, dancing, events. I’m exhausted just typing it out. The best thing to do is probably just plan to spend your weekend around the Plaza de la Virgen, which is where most of the action takes place.

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June 3, 2010 at 8:09 am Comments (0)

III Festival de Mediterrani

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It’s all about the ladies at the third annual Festival de Mediterrani, at the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofia. With the slogan “ELLA”, the operas featured during the month-long event were chosen for their focus on strong female characters. Richard Strauss’s Salome, based on the play by Oscar Wilde features the infamous Dance of Seven Veils and its shocking finale. And Georges Bizet’s capricious Sevillian gypsy Carmen takes the stage, as well.

We’re not really into opera much ourselves, but the festival, which runs from May 30th – June 30th, incorporates much more. Concerts, chamber music, recitals, conferences, and a number of films screened free for the public, including Gilda and The Barefoot Contessa — all in keeping with the theme of ELLA, of course.

And here’s a tip you won’t see publicized very often: at least for the festival, the Palau offers a 50% Last Minute Discount on tickets purchased 2 hours before each performance. This obviously won’t work for any sold-out performance, but could provide a great way to see an opera you don’t necessarily want to shell out the big bucks for.

More information can be found at the Palau’s official website.

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May 28, 2010 at 8:54 am Comments (0)

Festival de las Naciones

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Nation fest

It’s been going on for a couple weeks now, but we finally made it down to the Festival of Nations in the Turia riverbed, near the Alameda metro station.

The festival, which features stands from over 50 countries on 5 continents, seems to have grown in size and professionalism. They’ve laid down a wooden floor for dancing, and the stage is much larger than in previous years.

Last night, we enjoyed a hefeweizen (Germany) and a caipirinha (Brazil). Besides food and drink, you can find handmade goods from all over the world, and enjoy live performances almost every hour. It’s finally starting to feel like summertime in Valencia, and this is a great place to spend a couple hours with friends.

The festival runs through June 13th.
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May 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm Comment (1)

Our Lady of the Forsaken

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This weekend, always on the second Sunday in May, Valencia celebrates its patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. The city’s most insane religious procession takes place on Sunday morning, and there are a few other events to keep your eye on.

Concert, Fireworks and Dance at Plaza de la Virgen – Saturday Night
At 11pm, the Municipal Band of Valencia takes the stage at the Plaza de la Virgen for a free, open-air concert, to kick off the weekend’s festivities. It’s very pleasant, in stark contrast to the music which will soon fill the square. After they’ve finished, a short but impressive fireworks display will be shot off over the Turia. It’s visible from the plaza, but if you want an unobstructed view, you should head down to the riverbed.

After the fireworks have ended, folkloric music, castanets, elaborate costumes, and dancing fill the plaza in an interminable dance. Hundreds of falleros prance to the squealing, whistling sounds of flutes and other woodwinds. The musicians play the same song over and over, and I promise, you won’t be able to get it out of your head for days. And you will want to, desperately.

Check out our 2009 coverage of the dance & fireworks

Open Air Mass – Sunday Morning
Taking place at the ungodly hour of 5am, la misa descubierta is only for early risers, and guilt-ridden late-night party people. It takes place at the Royal Chapel, and since we’ve never gone and never will, I won’t comment further.

The Traslado – Sunday, 10:30am
This is the highlight of the festival, and one of the absolute must-see events on the calendar. Even the non-religious can’t help but be moved by the spectacle of the Virgen de los Desamaparados being carried from her Basilica to the Cathedral. It’s a very long 200 meters, from door to door, with the path being obstructed by thousands of rabid Catholics clamoring to touch the virgin, who will stop at nothing. With rose petals raining down from the balconies, true believers crying and shaking, desperate parents literally throwing their babies at the statues, the men buckling under the virgin’s weight as come perilously close to dropping her over and over… it’s a sight you can’t miss. Incredible. If you’re not sure, just check out our 2008 & 2009 coverage.

Mascletà – Sunday, 14:00
The cage is gone and this mascletà should be a great one.

Official Procession – Sunday, 18:30
It has the Virgin, but none of the craziness. This is a long, solemn and much calmer parade. The end is nice, when the bishop and important politicians walk by, with Our Lady hot on their heels, but until then, it’s just so many ladies dressed in black, and dudes in suits. The route goes like this:

Pl. Virgen, Caballeros, Tossal, Bolsería, Mercado, María Cristina, San Vicente, Pl. Reina, Mar, Avellanas, Palau, Almoina

Ronda a la Verge – Monday, 20:30
On Monday evening, there’s more traditional music on the menu in the Pl. Virgen. Grab a seat at one of the cafés, and allow yourself to unwind from a crazy weekend.

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