Where the Fallas Magic Happens: Ciutat Fallera
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for Fallas 2022! We can still smell the smoke from the last edition of the festival (there might still be gunpowder particles in our noses). Fallas 2021 really wasn’t all that long ago — because of the pandemic, it was celebrated in September instead of March. But we’re back on schedule, and the artists have been working hard on their 2022 creations for months. We visited the neighborhood of Ciutat Fallera (literally “Fallas City”) to check out the progress.
A Difficult Promise to Keep
Many of the pictures you’ll see in the post were actually taken in August, 2021. That’s right — the artists were at work on Fallas 2022, before the 2021 festival had even taken place! And they only allowed me to take pictures, if I promised not to publish or share them until the weeks leading up to Fallas. The most satisfying part of their job must be the great reveal, and they don’t want pictures of their designs leaking out too early. It’s been driving me crazy, because it felt “exclusive”, but of course I agreed to the terms and have kept the photos under lock until now!
Visiting the Magic Kingdoms
We’ve been to the Ciutat Fallera several times, but always feel nervous about it. At the end of the day, despite the number of years we’ve lived in Spain, we are definitely still guiris who might be disturbing their work, pestering them with our curiosity and camera. So far, we’ve had luck — the artists have been completely kind and welcoming. But we always feel a little sketchy publishing posts like this, possibly encouraging tourism to the Ciutat Fallera; the random foreigner or two is a novelty, but if this ends on the bucket list for Valencia, the artists might not be so thrilled. Anyway, if you do go, make sure to ask before entering any workshops, and be respectful of their space.
On this excursion, the artists Manuel Algarra and Cristian Garcia Carrasco welcomed us into their kingdoms, where they work every day to create the art that makes Fallas such a unique and wonderful festival.
A Year of Work for Just Five Days
It’s so fascinating to see how they create these massive figures, starting with just a sketch on paper. The logistics behind the process are mind-blowing, with the scaffolding needed to hold up the individual pieces, the various tools they use to carve and shape the materials, and the exactitude with which everything has to be measured. The fact that everything fits so perfectly together, when the assembly happens during la Plantà, shows that they really know what they’re doing. And it’s still shocking to us that these pieces of art, which have taken up to a year to create, are burned after being displayed for just five days!
If you do decide to check out the Ciutat Fallera, make sure to also visit the Fallas Museum which is found here, and (pro tip!) schedule your visit so that you can finish with an extremely affordable menú del día at the connected restaurant. There’s always a crowd of artists eating here, with whom you may be able to mingle!
Towards the end of this post, we’ve also added some unpublished photos of the Meditadora by Escif. That statue was already burned for Fallas 2021, but it was such an awesome monument that we’re always happy to remember it.