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Fallas 2010: Cabalgata del Fuego

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Filmed with the Sanyo VPC – CS 1 (super tiny) available here: USA, UK, Deutschland and Spain

The Cabalgata del Fuego, which takes place along Calle Colón at 7pm on the last day of Fallas, is a relatively new addition to the calendar. But what the parade lacks in history, it makes up for in madness.

We joined the crowd lining up around the Puerto del Mar about 45 minutes early, and had a great view of the excitement.  The Cabalgata began slowly; first the court of Falleras marched through with bands, followed by the wielders of fire. The procession was a lot different than previous years, as though the organizers are still trying to figure out the best way to do present it.

Once the parade reached its conclusion, with giant spark-spitting dragons, skipping devils, fiery bikes from hell, and musicians surrounding the gate, the intensity was incredible.  And then the Puerto del Mar lit up, with strings of firecrackers running up and down it, deep red smoke engulfing it, and massive fireworks exploding on top of it. Amazing.














For hostel/hotel bookings during Fallas, we’ve found the best rates at Hostelbookers, and Apartments in Valencia

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March 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm Comments (2)

Fallas 2010: La Despertà

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For hostel/hotel bookings during Fallas, we’ve found the best rates at Hostelbookers and

Luckily for us, the world’s most annoying alarm clock only goes off once a year. But it’s a bastard.


At 7:30am on the last Sunday of February, Valencians take to the streets for the despertà — the waking up of the city for its most important celebration, Fallas. The sudden noise, if you’re caught unaware and anywhere within a 3km radius, is terrifying. We lived near C/ La Paz during our first despertà, and I leapt out of bed thinking (a) earthquake, (b) war, (c) Armageddon, convinced that death was upon me and hoping it be swift.

But by now, we’re grizzled veterans of this very Valencian foolishness. I slept through the fire and brimstone, showing up only for the concluding mascletà in the city’s Ayuntamiento, but Jürgen marched along and got some great pictures of the revelers.

Despertà 2009 (pictures and video) / What is Fallas

Book now for Fallas: Hostels, Hotels and Bed&Breakfast


More photos of the Despertà 2010:
















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February 28, 2010 at 11:58 am Comments (4)

Our Lady of the Forsaken Part 2: Insanity & Parades

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This weekend it was all about the Virgin. Thousands upon thousands of people took part in the various events which we previewed last Friday. Here’s the second of two parts from our report for 2009. The first can be found here.

Baby Tossing

On Sunday morning at 10:30, the Virgin is brought out of her basilica, paraded around the Plaza de la Virgen, and then brought into the cathedral — a tiny procession lasting just 30 minutes. “How pleasant and non-threatening”, you think. HA! YOU ARE A FOOL.

Another video of the virgin leaving the Basilica filmed from above, sent in by @mariacervantes; she also took some pics

During the procession, thousands of believers are trying to touch the virgin and they will stop at nothing to be blessed. People just lose their freaking minds; crying, screaming, crowd-surfing, pushing, cackling and (awesomely) passing their infant children to strangers, who pass them to other strangers, who pass them to other strangers, who foist them upon the virgin and then pass them back again. It is shocking.

[Years later]
“Mommy, I won again! I’ve always been super lucky!”
“Oh yeah, um. That’s because I let some stranger throw you against a statue when you were 6 months old.”
“… I hate you, Mommy.”


Honestly, this procession is kind of terrifying … at one point, I was being shoved from both the front and behind, and thought I might get trampled. But if you’re prepared for the madness, the fervor of the believers is truly something to behold.


More information and many more images here:

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May 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm Comments (6)

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.


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