March festivals: Spain’s puppet festival

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By Karen Hart

Investigate a Spanish puppet festival and make simple puppets in your own classroom.

Las Fallas
Image by Keith Ellwood / Wikimedia Commons

Known as Europe’s wildest spring party, Las Fallas is certainly the biggest puppet show you’re ever likely to see. It’s a time when the city gets overtaken by enormous, papier mâché sculptures built by teams of local artists, with each neighbourhood sponsoring its own puppet or ‘falla’.

The festivities begin the night before the parade, with the ‘plantà’, (overnight setting up of the fallas), when townfolk wake to find over 350 huge puppets have appeared in their streets. Reaching over 15m high and costing hundreds of pounds to build, these amazing, but grotesque creations are often parodies of well-known celebrities and public figures.

Las Fallas is not all puppet shows though; the festival includes street parties, paella-cooking competitions, parades, open-air concerts and bullfights, with the grande finale being an extremely impressive firework display. Valencia considers itself the firework capital of the world. Every afternoon during Las Fallas, a mascletà (series of loud firecrackers that go off in sequence one after the other), shakes the city. This could be one of the noisiest events in the world!

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