Feria de Valencia in Valencia, Spain
Where: Throughout the city
Feria de Valencia Traditions:
The Feria de Valencia essentially brings together the best of Valencian life and culture and combines them into one major event. The performing arts, a major facet of Valencia's culture scene, are a major highlight as jazz, open-air performances, opera, theater, film and concerts featuring anyone from regional up-and-comers to major international gigs like Bob Dylan, Ziggy Marley and the Alan Parsons Project. Plus, as a celebration of the heart and soul of Valencia, there are naturally noisy pops, bangs and fizzles as major fireworks displays constantly set the night sky aglow.
The Certamen de Bandas, Valencia's renowned international brass band competition, is one of the major events, as is Valencia's bullfighting festival. Attracting the biggest names of the sport (or cultural event, as the enthusiasts prefer to call it), it's a fantastic opportunity to revel in the tradition and pageantry of this quintessentially Spanish - albeit controversial - tradition.
The final event of the Feria de Valencia is the wildly popular Battle of the Flowers. A parade of traditional carriages decked out from head to toe in flowers passes along the Paseo de la Alamenda. The parade floats' occupants and the parade spectators then engage in the so-called battle, as the two sides pelt each other with tens of thousands of orange and red flowers. By the end, the street is a carpet of red and orange petals, and the atmosphere is naturally light-hearted and festive.
Following the Battle of the Flowers is one final "mascletà," because in Valencia, there's no better way to wrap up a week of festivities than to have firecrackers crack and pop for over five minutes!
Feria de Valencia History:
The Feria de Valencia, now a week of frenetic festivity and top-notch entertainment, began in 1871 as a flower, plant and local product fair. Aiming to keep the middle and bourgeois classes, who often left the city to summer elsewhere, in the city during the summer months, merchants - with the backing of the city government - created an annual fair that promised to serve as a giant marketplace of commerce.
Over time, the festival's entertainment element gained popularity and eventually overshadowed and elbowed out the original commercial intentions. Pavillions housing dancing and drinking replaced stalls filled with local produce and, little by little, the Feria de Valencia also began incorporating parades, exhibitions, fireworks and, as of 1891, the famous Battle of the Flowers.