Fiery Fallas set to start

A ninot statue for the Fallas fiesta in an exhibition in Denia

THOUSANDS of tourists are expected to flock to the Costa Blanca for the fiery Fallas fiesta.

Artists are busy putting the final touches to the ninots, which are giant papier-mache statues often poking fun at politicians and celebrities. Many have an underlying political theme with the increase in IVA tax to 21 per cent expected to feature strongly this year.

The festival attracts thousands of daytrippers and holidaymakers and is a major source of tourism revenue for the region, particularly in Valencia where the biggest and best statues are found.

Other towns taking part include Denia, Benidorm, Calpe and Javea. Giant statues are put up in the streets and then burnt to a cinder on St Joseph’s Day, March 19, Throughout the week, fireworks and firecrackers are let off at all hours of the day and night.

Daily mascletas are also held, which are firecrackers going off in sequence reaching decibels of over 100.

In Denia the fun starts on Saturday with a concert in Calle La Vie at midnight. The statues are due to go up on Friday March 15 and are burnt on the night of March 19.

The festival dates back to the Middle Ages when carpenters used planks of wood as candle holders in the winter. To celebrate the arrival of spring, they would burn the wood. Over time, the wood was dressed in clothes to look like a person (possibly a neighbour or church figure). Then carvings were made out of the wood.

By the beginning of the 20th century, three or four figures were produced for each Falla and the bonfire grew bigger and bigger. Nowadays, the statues are made of cardboard, polystyrene or papier-mache and can be more than 30 metres high.

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