There are countless things to do and see during the Las Fallas festival but “La Ofrenda” was the most immersive cultural experience we’ve ever been part of.
La Ofrenda takes place each year on the 17th of March. For two days, from 4 pm- 1 am, the entire city is an endless parade of color, music and intense emotion as the people of Valencia and surrounding regions bring offerings of flowers to the center of Old Town Valencia to pay homage to their patron saint.
During the week leading up to the Offering, a huge wooden monument is built in the center of the Placa de la Virgen, representing the Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken) .
The parade begins on the 17th of March and runs along La Paz and San Vicente Streets. One by one, each representative, accompanied by marching bands and dressed in traditional costumes, parade through the city towards the plaza, to offer a gift to the Lady on behalf of their community.
The flowers are gathered up and placed into the framework “cloak” by teams of volunteers who arrange the flowers into a design (that is kept secret every year).
The processions last for two days and are incredibly emotional. We saw many of the falleras moved to tears as they finally approached the square to pay their homage.
We returned to the plaza several times each day and every time we entered the square, I would have an involuntary emotional response. All at once, you are baptized by the color and fragrance of thousands and thousands of flowers, coupled by the intensity of brass bands, random explosions, and raw emotion. It’s an overwhelming feeling and one that I will be forever grateful to have had the chance to experience.
For my fellow history dorks, check out part 1 for more detail about the Las Fallas festival.