Every year the people of beautiful Valencia have an attack of pyrotechnics….

Local groups of enthusiasts spend all year building the most amazingly intricate effigies of fairytale characters, up to about four metres tall. They surround them with smaller scenes and characters. They display them in the small squares in the city, for about three days. After daily rousing cacophonies of firecrackers, both official and unofficial (you can imagine the noisy fun the local lads have), they burn the statues – in situ – and start again for next year.

We went on a coach trip on 17th March 2010 – setting off at an Iberian 8am – on the first day of the three-day Las Fallas fiesta, to witness the statues – all made of papier maché , realistically moulded and painted in bright colours that turn almost luminescent in the sunshine. The Las Fallas award ceremony happened at 9.30 for the displays of statues and the like.

The day’s Mascleta fireworks and firecracker extravaganza in the Ajuntament square took off at 2 o’clock – you have to be brave to stay in the square and feel the earth shake. Then from 4pm the long processions of the Cabalgata Folklórica, with ladies, girls and children dressed in sumptuous crinolines, each carrying flowers from their own Fallas group to decorate the skirts of the Virgin & Child statue in the Cathedral Square. All day you can see them walking, chatting and enjoying being part of Las Fallas festival. The men (and boys) are dressed as pirates, and frequently carry the children, who must be tired after several hours of processing through the streets.

The men clambering the slatted wooden skirts of the Virgin to insert the flower bunches probably get pretty tired too – they work on it for several days to create a floral display some 8-10 metres tall. The extra bunches are placed in frames down one side of the square; as the city has grown there are too many offerings for the one statue.

A ballooning exhibition at 6pm is followed by yet another 1am firework display (they spend about two weeks setting off fireworks and firecrackers), but by this time our coach had collected us for the long journey back to Mazarrón. Long – but worth it. Just remember to take a picnic – the restaurants are mostly closed as the staff join in Las Fallas festivities. Only in Valencia…

The coach trip was organised by Eileen at Dragontours- in the precinct of Camposol Commercial Sector A- 968.199.021