Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Just recently back from the stunningly beautiful Spanish city of Valencia, where they've been celebrating their annual festival Las Fallas (pronounced 'fayas' -- the fires). It marks the transition from winter to spring, as well as being the holiday of St. Joseph, the national saint.

About one and a half million extra people flood into the city centre. The streets become thronged, sometimes unbearably so. There are parades and bands and huge displays of lights and flowers. Kids let off firecrackers in every available free space, and there are massive organised versions of such -- called mascletas -- which can be heard right across town and literally make the ground shake. And most of this goes on well into the small hours. Valencians are true night-owls, and the place is still like Oxford Street come Christmastime at three in the morning. The figurines you see in every square, incidentally, are called ninots. They are made of papier mache and are vast. And at the end of the fiesta, they get set on fire, to the accompaniment of a massive firework display. I thought I'd share some of the images from my visit with you.

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