Fiestas in and around Cabanyal
Valencia is most famous for this extraordinary five day festival, celebrated in mid March each year, to herald the beginning of Spring.
Carpenters and wood-workers traditionally made effigies out of old wood, which were then burnt on 20th March to make way for the new shoots of the season.
Today the statues and sculptures have taken on Disney proportions and are made of polystyrene and wood. They’re still burnt on the last night, which makes for a moving and dramatic spectacle .
Parties and paella feasts run thoughout las Fallas, although many are just for locals who contribute to a fund year round to pay for music, marquees and fireworks.
The marvellous processions of Valencianos in their traditional costumes are open to everyone however. The Fallerinas – girls and women who parade the streets like beauty queens look especially lovely.
No one seems to work or sleep much during this five day festival, when bands play from square to square and giant paellas are cooked in the street. It’s a wonderful time to visit, but come with plenty of stamina and don’t be alarmed to hear deafening firecrackers being set off everywhere, as well as in the Plaza de Ajuntamiento each day at 2pm.
Semana Santa Marinera
El Cabanyal is the home of the city’s spectacular Easter celebrations. This culturally rich and at times astonishing festival typically lasts for 12 days reaching a peak on Easter Sunday.
There are stirring parades thoughout the day, when bands and marchers take to the streets, wearing a range of intriguing costumes. Each brotherhood/neighbourhood has its own version of these long gowns and pointed headdresses. These are intended to show a period of mourning or are a sign of shame for sins committed and are triumphantly cast aside on Easter Sunday.
Despite the intermittent solemnity of the days leading up to the final parade, Semana Santa is an incredible spectacle, where marchers carry beautifully painted statues of Jesus or the Virgin Mary while drums are banged and trumpets blown.
If being covered in squashed tomatos on a hot August day sounds like your idea of fun, head out to Bunol, 40 kms by bus from Valencia, for this exuberant celebration.
On the last or penultimate day of August 50,000 people stand in the streets at noon while 100 tons of tomatoes are tipped on their heads, before they’re thrown around in a wild and frenzied battle.
Local people are on hand to hose everyone down and the town turns into one big salsa de tomate.
Sounds bizarre, but there’s nothing else like it in the world.
Night of San Juan
Valencia welcomes the summer in style on 23rd June by lighting fires all along the beaches and then jumping over them.
The Night of San Juan is the ultimate beach party and runs all along the coast. Make a wish as you leap over the bonfire – hopefully not burning your feet in the process.
Feria de Julio
July is one big party month in Valencia, with fireworks and fiestas on almost every day. The Marina is home to many of the celebrations and buzzes with life until the small hours. This is a wonderful time to be in the city, El Cabanyal in particular.
There’s another good excuse for a spectacular fireworks display on 9th October when Valencia celebrates its recognition as an independent state. The Paseo de Alameda is the scene of the pyrotechnic action followed the next day by a wonderful, colourful procession and displays of traditional dancing. Discover the history and customs of the city and have fun along the way.