Our Lady of the Forsaken

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.

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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