THE world-famous Fallas festivities in Valencia have been cancelled again this year due to COVID-19.
City mayor Joan Ribo made the dreaded – but expected – announcement on Thursday (January 14) on Radio Valencia, ahead of the official statement by the regional Health department.
This will be the second consecutive March without the spectacular paper-mache statues decorating the streets for a week before going up in flames, together with the daily mascleta firecracker displays, processions, flower offerings and months of partying and preparations.
Added to last year’s cancellation, this is so far the second longest gap in the fiesta’s long history, only ‘beaten’ by the three-year Civil War period from 1937 to 1939.
The unavoidable decision has not come as a surprise for anyone involved, but has still triggered intense feelings of sadness and loss throughout the huge Fallas community.
Neither did anyone need to be reminded of the reasons for putting the much-loved – and highly profitable for the city – festivities on ice once again.
The Fallas and all related events draw huge crowds to the city centre at every hour of the day and night, making social distancing impossible. In addition, a large percentage of visitors come from all over the world as well as other parts of Spain, which at the moment is totally inconceivable with the entire region closed off and no way of predicting what the situation will be in March.
Speaking on the radio yesterday, Joan Ribo also confirmed the council’s plans to help out the affected sectors financially via the ‘anti-COVID’ fund – no easy feat considering the many different elements that make up the Fallas.
As it stands, the only activities that are still on the cards for March are those that can be set up from one day to the next, depending on the health situation. These could include some parades, concerts or other public events in the open air.
Meanwhile, the traditional Sant Antoni animal blessing will take place on Sunday (January 17) with a ‘virtual blessing’.