Go out with a Bang at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain

Here is the essence of Las Fallas.  In a matter of minutes, this...
Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
went up in flames...
Fireworks during La Crema at Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Works of art going up in flames during the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Works of art going up in flames during the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
and became this...
Works of art going up in flames during the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Spectacular artistic creations gone from dust to dust.  Las Fallas ends each year with La Crema, a spectacular extravaganza of sights and sounds throughout the city of Valencia.

We saw an amazing array of Fallas - there are over 300 in all.  Each neighborhood hires an artist to bring their vision to life.  Subject-matter ranges from political to satire to sexy.  Check out the awesome creations that we saw for 2013 in the photo album embedded below.

We staked out a spot on El Pont d'Aragó to watch an amazing fireworks show.
Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain - Crowds waiting to watch fireworks
Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain - fireworks
Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain - fireworks
During our time in Valencia, we covered about 10 miles a day.  Neighborhoods went over the top to draw people in. One of the neighborhoods even had a petting zoo for the kiddies adjacent to their falla!
Farm Animals at Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain
The city was lit up like Christmas.
Evening lights at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
We cautiously enjoyed the brilliant displays while being careful to avoid revellers with firecrackers.  I was stunned to see parents handing their 4 year old children firecrackers to light off.  They seemed to celebrate after each 'boom' - Yay, baby's first firework!  Scary...  The small firecrackers weren't so bad.  The bigger M80s were truly alarming.  At one point, we were walking down a residential street and a man darted out from behind a garbage bin.  He pointed his hand at us in an urgent gesture that seemed to say 'move back!'.  We covered our ears and huddled up.  It's a good thing we did because 10 seconds later what felt like a huge explosion shook our bodies.  My ears even rang for a few seconds afterward.  Not cool, people...  We stayed on the more well-traveled streets from there on out but it was difficult to avoid the locals setting off their fireworks.

Each full-sized falla had a corresponding children's falla.  They burned these creations earlier than the big ones (~10 pm).  We weren't sure what to expect as we lined up to watch.
Children's Falla during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
The whole thing was doused in lighter fluid and the lights were dimmed.  We expected a big bonfire.
Children's Falla during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Boy, were we surprised when the whole thing went up in a loud, sparkling, fiery mess!  What a spectacle!  Check out the video here:

Children's Falla during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Burning all the Fallas at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Burning all the Fallas at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Burning all the Fallas at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Burning all the Fallas at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Within minutes, the beautiful creation was burnt to the ground.
Burning all the Fallas at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
The process was repeated 300 times over throughout the city.
Fireworks during Las Fallas
We selected a falla near our hotel for the main event at midnight.  It was the first one we saw when we arrived in Valencia so we thought it fitting to pay homage and watch it burn.  For what seemed like an eternity, various combinations of people posed for pictures in front of it.
Getting Ready to burn the Fallas at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Getting Ready to burn the Fallas at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
A fireworks show from a nearby falla sparkled in the background.
Getting Ready to burn the Fallas at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Getting Ready to burn the Fallas at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Check out these videos of the falla burning.  Safety is not the highest consideration at this festival.  A barricade was put in place but it quickly became clear that we were standing too close and ended up way across the street with flame and ash raining down on us before it was over.
We wandered past another nearby falla and stayed long enough to to see a loud and long fireworks show before this falla in turn was burned to the ground.
Evening lights during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights and fireworks during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights and fireworks during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Evening lights and fireworks during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Another falla goes up in flames during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Another falla goes up in flames during Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
We turned in to get a few hours rest at about 2 am and reflected on the once in a lifetime experience to see Las Fallas and the big bang finale - La Crema.

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Sidewalk Safari: Go out with a Bang at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Go out with a Bang at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Photo tour of the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain. Over 300 larger than life artistic creations are set on fire at the end of the festival.
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Sidewalk Safari
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