Valencia – Nic De Foc – Crema

All those falls so beautiful, so incredible, so expensive to build. Tonight they burn. The Crema is the big finish to the event that is Las Fallas.

We set out around 10:30 to stake out a falla to watch burn. You have to get there early as the crowds form up pretty thick by the time they start to ignite these things.

We had originally thought we’d go to a falla near the dry river bed, but it was not that interesting of a falla and I thought it might be more interesting to see one burn in the city center. We ended up at this one.

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The crowds were already pretty big and lively, but we felt this would be manageable. According to the program, the fallas burn at midnight. As it turns out, the burning of the fallas DOES begin at midnight, but not all falls are burned at the start. They seem to go in waves. The first thing that has to happen is that group of Valencia firemen have to be present to hose things down and ensure nothing goes horribly wrong. Some of the fallas are over 6-10 stories tall and most are wedged in between buildings.

But there are only so many firemen so they make the rounds. There’s no pre-published schedule, the falla burns when it burns.

Sadly, for us we ended up waiting till almost 2:00 am for our falla to burn. The crowds got thicker an thicker and more and more intoxicated. We were jostled, squished and basically trapped till it was over.

At long last, the firemen did arrive and and started hosing things down and without much warning things just started exploding. The falla caught fire pretty quick and was fully engaged in a matter of minutes.

Now look at that top picture. You can see many people crowded in close. I’m not sure what these people are thinking because when a falla burns it puts off a LOT of heat. Sure enough, at one point the crowd up front surged backward and the crowd behind us barely gave ground so the entire crowd became a little more densely packed for the duration of the burn.

It’s a good thing they did move back because not only would they have been flame broiled, but the arm of the woman in the falla pretty much fell in a flaming heap at one point, right where some people were standing before the surge.

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The Pinocchio character in the falla was the very last to go. His continued presence in the below series of photos strikes me as particularly odd and humorous.

Here is the burning from pretty much the beginning to right before the firemen pushed the Pinocchio character into the smoldering heap.

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When the falla had mostly burned the crowd began to relax and start to thin out which made it possible for us to finally move again. And we used this movement to find our way back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

On our way back to the hotel there were smoldering heaps that were once majestic fallas everywhere you looked.

Aftermath

Tomorrow we make our way back to Barcelona on just a few hours of sleep.

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