fiesta / Valencia

Las Fallas: The Loudest Party I’ve Ever Been To

“Diez minutos.” 

More people than will physically fit in the streets are trying to jam their way into the packed crowd. Like it or not, you can feel everybody’s breath around you on your shoulders, hair. The combination of the midday sun and the sheer amount of people is creating a suffocating heat. A helicopter is thudding above the crowds, circling the Plaza Mayor.

Valencia-Las-Fallas-Spain-2013

 “Cinco minutos.” 

You can feel the anticipation in the pulsing crowd. Everyone is pushing further and further into the main square to catch a glimpse of the frenzy that’s coming soon. The sun is climbing higher and higher into the sky. People start shifting, trying to remove jackets and layers without losing their coveted spot, while hopeful watchers in the back try to might take advantage of the distraction.

“¡Un minuto!” 

Everybody tenses and crushes forward. The thudding helicopter circles lower and louder. I don’t even know what’s coming next, but I do know that I want to see it, and I want the best view possible. I lost most of my friends in the fray fifteen minutes ago, but now that it’s here all my anxious thoughts have been pushed out by my excitement. Whatever “it” is.

The clock strikes 2 and….BOOM.

Valencia-Las-Fallas-Spain-2013

The square shakes with the first explosion. A firework shrieks into the air, leaving behind a trail of dirty white smoke. You can just barely see the red sparks shooting into the blue skies.

My whole body vibrates with the pounding explosions. This is a celebration you can physically feel in your entire body.

By now, the whole place is filled with heavy clouds of smoke. Each rumbling blast sends a shiver through your body, shaking you to your core.

Suddenly, everything goes quiet. There’s a collective intake of breath. Is this it?

An explosion goes off in the distance.

Now they’re shooting fireworks off the other side of the plaza. There’s a roar of new bangs before a wailing trail of red and gold explosions bursts high in the sky. You can’t see anything through the dusty clouds. It looks like windy days in the desert when the air blows all the dirt high into the sky.

Valencia-Las-Fallas-Spain-2013

More bangs, blasts, and then…BOOM!

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any louder, the entire Plaza Mayor is filled with surround-sound explosions, clouds of smoke, and occasional bursts of glittery fireworks in the middle.

It builds up into a frenzy, so loud you can barely hear yourself think. There’s one final, glorious explosion of noise and excitement and bangs….

And then, suddenly, it’s all over.

People slowly start to cheer and clap (“Is that it?”), the volume swelling to fill the square with an explosion of voices. Then, as quickly as the Mascletà began, the crowd suddenly whirls outwards in search of the next stage of the festival.

Las Fallas has officially started for the day.

Valencia-Las-Fallas-Spain-2013

Besos!

-Jess

43 thoughts on “Las Fallas: The Loudest Party I’ve Ever Been To

    • Pyrotechnic is a good word! There were fires or small explosions everywhere.

      It was ridiculously crowded for the kickoff of the party and around lunchtime, but after that it wasn’t quite as intense. It was still fairly crowded the whole time I was there.

  1. We once stayed in a parador in a small Spanish village. What we didn’t know before checkin, was the Saturday morning festival started out at 6AM, with a barrage of cannon fire. And of course, the cannon was on a village wall about 10 feet from our hotel room window. I don’t remember the village, but I do remember the cannon fire. ~James

  2. I love how happy everyone looks in the first picture…
    I went to a car show the other day (for work) and one company was handing out earplugs as their handout. I was wondering why until it started and I thought my ears were going to bleed. Hope your ears made it alright.

    How long is this festival? Sounds eventful!!

    • Hahaha they do look pretty pleased…I bet it was the combination of heat and being way too packed in.

      I found that it was more stressful for my nerves than my ears. Everyone was setting off street fireworks, and you never knew where the next explosion was happening.

      Las Fallas lasts 5 days, and it ends with a huge party where they burn all the paper sculptures except the best one.

        • Hmm…I’ve never been to Burning Man, but my main idea of it is that it’s really crazy and people live out their other-world fantasies and whatnot (which would have been fun, but didn’t happen at this one).

          I assume they burn stuff too from the name, and that definitely happens at Las Fallas!

          • I’ve never been either, but Big Picture by the Boston Globe featured it a couple times and it looks like they burn these HUGE wooden structures at the end.

  3. Last year I really wanted to go to las Fallas and this year I couldn’t because it coincided with my trip to Belgium! A friend who went said the same thing- SO LOUD. Explosions all the time. Hope to go one day. Though I still jump when I head random booms in the streets, whether it’s a party or not in Spain. Maybe it wouldn’t be the best festival for me on 2nd thought.

  4. Great take on Mascleta Jess! It’s a pretty hard event to describe too as you can’t show much of a daytime fireworks show in photos! Made me look forward to heading back for Fallas again though!

  5. This was great fun. I wish I was there. Boom Boom sound can attract every attention. This festival is very adventures. Glad to read all these activities.

  6. Pingback: It’s My Barcelona Birthday! Reflecting on 2 Years in the Catalan Capital | ¡Hola Yessica!

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