The Fallas of 2021 is probably the weirdest Fallas of all; not only because it happened during the month of September, during a pandemic, but also because all of the Falleras and Falleros were wearing masks while marching in the big parades through Valencia. We went to watch the Entrega de los Premios (picking up the Fallas Prizes) — a two-day event, when marching bands take the streets of the city, leading the commissions to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to pick up their prizes.
Valencians are competitive, and just about everything about Fallas involves competition, from the selecting of Falleras, to game and sport tournaments, and even including the fireworks displays. But the most well-known and important battle is about the monuments which they erect during the plantà.
Picking Up Fallas Prizes in Style
The commissions have invested a lot of time and money into their figures, and it’s important to do well in the judging. During the Entrega de los Premios, they take to the streets, marching through the city to the beat of their own band. There’s a lot of bands, so, this means a lot of noise. Let’s just say, it’s best not to plan any important Zoom meetings during these two days, if you’re located within a two-kilometer radius of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento!
The Faller@s get all dressed up in their traditional garb — although this year, they had a new accessory: facial masks. Of course, we’ve become accustomed to people wearing masks, but it was still startling to see this very modern necessity paired with such traditional outfits. For the most part, they tried to match the masks to their dress, and make it part of the outfit.
As you can see in this video, this is a very festive event. Everyone is in a great mood, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself in the middle of five marching bands all playing different songs at the same time, which could give you a major headache… depending how much you drank the night before.
There is so much going on and so many things to look at: Falleras dancing, parents showing off their newborns, beautiful dresses made out of silk, it’s pure sensory overload. And for the first few hours, it’s great fun. But this happens across two days — on the first, they award the prizes for the Falla Infantil, and on the second it’s the turn for the larger Fallas figures. And two days of incessant marching band music… well, it’s a lot.
After the prizes have been claimed, you will often find the winning Fallas commissions taking little detours on their way back home, which just happen to bring them past other casals. I’m sure it has nothing to do with showing off! Just like it must be coincidental that, during these moments, the their marching bands seem to play just a bit louder then usual.