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Fallas 2010: La Despertà

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

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

desperta

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

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More photos of the Despertà 2010:

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

Corpus Christi 2009 – Cabalgata del Convite

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Valencia held its main 2009 Corpus Christi celebrations on Sunday, June 14th. If you like parades, followed by more parades, you’d have found paradise in the city today.

Virgin-Corpus-Christi

The first one got started at noon. Called the Cabalgata del Convite this was an extremely lively procession for a Sunday morning. There were various groups of characters performing dances; from 8 little shepherd boys, to a maypole dance, to the “momos” — a group of 7 demons representing the deadly sins who dance around a white, hooded figured. This lady in white is known as La Moma, and is probably the most emblematic character of Corpus Christi. She represents virtue.

But the fun really kicked into high gear as the parade’s final section arrived at Calle Cabillers and Avellanas. A club-wielding group of King Herod’s henchman threatened the crowd, reenacting everyone’s favorite biblical event — la degolla, or the slaughter of the innocents.

The crowd, though, would have its revenge. From every balcony, buckets of water rained down upon the henchmen (and anyone standing too close). It was insane fun, and if you happened to be on the street, there was no way to avoid getting a little wet. The henchmen loved it and howled for more… and we just tried to protect our camera! Good thing it was a hot, sunny day.

We’ll be posting shortly on the day’s other processions.

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Photographer in Valencia

Rental Car Valencia
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June 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm Comments (4)

Valencia’s Corpus Christi 2009

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Last year, nasty weather ruined our first Corpus Christi in Valencia, so we’re greatly looking forward to this year’s celebrations.

Acts are scheduled from June 11th to 14th, continuing a tradition that began in 1355. Corpus Christi is a celebration of the Eucharist and one of the biggest festivals on the Catholic calendar. In Valencia, it’s become a major event. Here’s a rundown of the highlights:

Saturday, June 13th

The Rocas – On Friday evening, the Rocas are brought to the Plaza de la Virgen. Rocas are huge, wooden floats, beautifully hand-made and in some cases centuries old. They depict biblical mysteries, and are kept safely inside La Casa de las Rocas (location) until Corpus Christi. You’ll have plenty of time to view them on Saturday, when they spend all day in the plaza.

Concert of the Municipal Band – At 23:00, the Plaza de la Virgen will be the scene of a performance by the talented Municipal Band of Valencia. Their show will feature traditional music of importance to the Valencian Community, and will be followed by fireworks.

Sunday, June 14th

Cabalgata del Convite – At noon, a mounted procession winds its way around Plaza de la Reina up towards the Almoina. This cabalgata is famous for its dancing, and for the strange tradition of the degolla — literally, the throat-slitting. King Herod’s masked henchmen run riot through the streets, “killing” infants by tapping them on the head with a stick. Onlookers take revenge on them by splashing buckets of water from the balconies. (Seems fair enough: you kill my infant, I’ll make you wet!) A good place to watch this is on C/ Avellanas — it’s not to be missed.

Paso de las Rocas – The Rocas are the protagonists of the afternoon parade which gets going at 16:30, and does a large loop through the city, ending at the Casa de las Rocas. This will be an energetic parade, full of music and excitement as the Rocas are quickly wheeled around the city center. It goes past very quickly, so don’t be late!

Official Procession – At 7pm is the day’s third and most traditional parade through Valencia’s streets. This procession is Corpus’ biggest, with falleras and politicians joining marching bands and a host of biblical characters. You’ll see a lady dressed from head to toe in white, who’s probably the most emblematic character of the festival — she represents virtue in a world of sin, and blesses on-lookers with her magical Virtue Wand.

Bells – If you’re going to be in the city center all weekend, I sure hope you really enjoy church bells because they will be going off constantly. For me, the sound progresses from “beautiful, soothing background noise” on Saturday morning, to “maddening, please-make-it-stop torture” on Sunday evening.

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June 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm Comments (0)

Semana Santa Marinera 2009

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Easter Week is probably the most important event on the Catholic calendar. In Valencia, its celebrated almost exclusively in the maritime district… which is why it’s called the Semana Santa Marinera.

There are an enormous amount of events scheduled from April 2nd to April 12th, with a number of different brother and sisterhoods taking part. Most of these are processions in and around Cabanyal.

As a good ‘ole American farm boy, I was terrified last year to see groups of men in white, pointy hoods marching down the street. Of course, these guys have nothing to do with certain other organizations. Different brotherhoods wear different colored robes — the pink ones are especially cute. But what is the significance of the pointy hoods? Even without the KKKonnektion, they come off threatening.

The main parades take place on Thursday, Friday and Easter Sunday. Sunday’s will be the most colorful and probably of the most interest to non-participants. And on the morning of Good Friday, the brotherhoods take their act to the beach… one of the more impressive acts of the Semana Santa.

20 Minutos has a great slideshow from last year’s holy week. It’ll give you a good idea of what’s in store, should you feel the urge to go spectate.

The Official Site of the Semana Santa Marinera
Our Post on the Events in 2008

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April 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm Comments (0)