CONFIRMED: Valencia will hold its Fallas fire festival in September 2021

The eastern Spanish city of Valencia has announced that it will finally hold its famous Las Fallas celebrations this September, as both March 2021’s festival and last year's event were cancelled due to the pandemic.

CONFIRMED: Valencia will hold its Fallas fire festival in September 2021
ON FIRE: Effigies depicting US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un being burt down as is customary, during Las Fallas in 2018 Photo: JOSE JORDAN / AFP

Valencia’s Falla Assembly of presidents voted that this year’s event would be held from September 1st to the 5th, with 93.3 percent of its members in favour of holding it later this year.

President of the Central Board of Fallera, Carlos Galiana, explained that holding the festival in the first week of September has its advantages. “There are school holidays, the weather has not yet worsened, it does not coincide with the town’s patron saint festivals, and oxygen is given to the economy,” he said. 

An earlier proposal, to change the dates of Las Fallas to July, was dismissed due to delays in the vaccination rate.

The festival is usually held in the week running up to March 19th to honour San José or Saint Joseph, and features the creation of huge sculptures made from papier-mâché.

Nit de la Cremá during Las Fallas in Valencia. Photo: JOSE JORDAN / AFP

Whimsical, satirical and fantastical, the giant sculptures are displayed across the city, before being ceremoniously burnt during the Nit de la Cremá,  usually on the night of March 19th. 

Valencia’s Las Fallas attracts over two million visitors each year and generates around €60 million in revenue for the city, meaning that cancelling it twice has been a big blow to the economy.

While most aspects of Las Fallas will take place in September such as the ofrenda offering of flowers to the Virgin outside the cathedral, the fireworks and the burning, it is not yet known whether the famous mascletà will be able to take place.

Held every afternoon during the festival in the lead-up to the Nit de la Crema, it features thousands of people packed into Valencia’s Plaza Mayor to listen to an ear-splitting display of firecrackers.

READ ALSO: IN PICS: Red hot satire at Las Fallas fiesta in Valencia

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In Pictures: Spain’s Fallas festival returns after pandemic pause

Valencia's Fallas festival wrapped up with fireworks and the burning of colourful sculptures on Sunday after returning to the eastern Spanish city following a pandemic-induced hiatus.

In Pictures: Spain's Fallas festival returns after pandemic pause
Ninots (cardboard effigies) burn as one installation of the Fallas Festival is set alight in Valencia on September 5, 2021. Photos: José Jordan/AFP

The five-day festival is traditionally held in March but was cancelled last year as the Covid-19 pandemic swept Spain. This year, officials postponed the start of the UNESCO-recognised event until September 1st.

It was the first time that the festival was suspended since the end of Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War.

Each year, residents make hundreds of colourful puppet-like sculptures — some as big as a four-storey building — out of wood, plaster and papier-mache for the festival.

Called “ninots”, the sculptures depict fairytale characters and cartoonish effigies of politicians and celebrities.

One ensemble from this year’s event was inspired by the hit Spanish Netflix series “Money Heist”. It depicted several people wearing red overalls and Salvador Dali face masks like the main characters in the show.

The ninots are displayed in the streets of the Mediterranean city and then burned on the last day of the festival — in a bonfire called the “Cremà” — in a centuries-old tradition honouring St Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

Fireworks lit up the night sky as this year’s bonfire, which features about 750 sculptures, was held without the thousands of spectators that the event usually draws.

The bonfire was brought forward by two hours to allow festivities to end before a nightly virus curfew came into effect at 1:00 am (2300 GMT).

After much debate a customary flower offering to the Virgin Mary was allowed to proceed — but without people lining the route, as is tradition.

“These are not Fallas as such, more like Fallas-related events that comply with health regulations,” said Valencia mayor Joan Ribo.

The Fallas festival is believed to have originated from pagan rituals marking the end of winter.

The pandemic has forced the cancellation of many of Spain’s most famous fiestas, including Pamplona’s bull-running festival and Seville’s Holy Week processions.