Archive for the ‘fireworks’ tag

Mascletá en Benimaclet

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Hola a tod@s.  For fear of beginning to sound like a broken record, I will yet again mention the fireworks and firecrackers that the Valencians seem to love so much.  To my surprise, the other evening there was a procession through the streets of Benimaclet, replete with priests, a figure being carried, candle bearers and a brass band.

Procession in Benimaclet

Procession in Benimaclet

A close-up of the shrine or whatever it is, I couldn't really make it out!

If that wasn’t surprising enough, after the procession had done it’s rounds of the streets, it turned up in the park by which I live.  And then the noises, flashes and bangs kicked off once again.  There was about ten minutes of normal fireworks, as seen here:

No smoke without fire

No smoke without fire

Excitingly, I have gone interactive, and you can even watch a video of the mascletá, taken from my balcony. Try to imagine that the noise was so great the ears hurt.  Not just discomfort, I’m talking pain.  The advice is to keep your mouth open.  Not just in awe of the spectacle, but to stop the eardrums rupturing.

Link to the mascletá video

Now something without fireworks, but still with noise.  Last weekend, Valencia hosted the MotoGP so there was a bit of excitement in the city.  Thanks to my flatmate, I got hold of some of the free tickets to a concert hosted by TVE, Spains’s national public broadcaster.  It was pretty good fun, if a bit cold on the hard stone seats of the Plaza de Toros (bullring), and the music was a little dubious too.

TVE MotoGP concert in Valencia Plaza de Toros

TVE MotoGP concert in Valencia Plaza de Toros

I insist you check out this recording of Ragdog, one of the bands playing at the concert, to hear how bad they were.  Another was Amaral, who were an improvement, and here is a video of them at the concert too.

TVE MotoGP concert in Valencia Plaza de Toros

Lots of people

The presenting (it was being recorded for tv) was a bit shambolic too, but overall it was worth seeing…after all, the tickets were free :)

Link to the procession video

Written by Benjamin

October 31st, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening

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Yesterday, Thursday, was Valencia’s Community Day when it celebrates being liberated from somebody or other and becoming independent.  In Spain celebrations are big, spectacular and very, very loud.

The Spanish like their fireworks, or at least the sound of fireworks can be heard every couple of days or so in a celebration of something or other.  I’m not sure a concrete reason is needed.  The festivities kicked off at midnight with a full hour of fireworks,  stopping only for five minutes to allow a break between the two shows.  I can tell you, my eardrums were feeling the pain of this.

The next morning the party continued at 2pm when the next round of fireworks took place.  These were designed mostly for the noise they produce, and being set up in the city square surrounded by tall buildings on all sides, this really was a show of noise.

A few loud bangs in slow succession started it all off, probably signifying some crucial shots in the decisive battle for independence.  No-one I’ve asked seems to know much about the background story, just that it involves King James I of Valencia some 800 years ago.

The firecrackers and bangers started properly, strung up on what looked like washing lines that filled the main square.  The people gathered in the street and the surrounding side-streets, all vying for the best location.  The noise was incredible.  With each bang the body shook, at first a jolt and tremble of surprise, after, for the next five minutes, from the force of each explosion.  There was a sensation of clothing flapping as each blast boomed in the air with a cacophony of popping and cracking below.  The square, filled with such noise and the acrid smoke of gunpowder, seemed to me like something from a war scene.  But of course, instead of horror, people felt delight.

Later in the day there was meant to be a procession, but bad weather meant I ended up not going to see what the procession was about.

Instead I went out with a friend for a drink in some local bars.  At about 6pm, the weather was worsening, with strong winds and drizzle, but it wasn’t anything terrible.  About at about 9pm we noticed the rain coming down by the bucketful; and the thunder and lightning began, real crashes and flashes that dimmed and flickered the lights.  At 10 we got peckish and decided to go to a nearby restaurant to get some food while there was a slight dip in the severity of the storm.

While we were eating, we heard some commotion with the waiting staff, who then began running carrying sacks of rice to store on the higher surfaces, namely on top of the lavatories in the toilets.  A few moments later we realised what was happening when I felt my feet sloshing around in water, and looking down the water was already over a centimetre deep.  It was flowing inwards really quickly too, bringing all sorts of detritus from the street with it, like cockroaches, dead, on their backs with their legs stuck up in the air.  Within minutes it had at least doubled in depth, and we were putting our feet on the edges of other chairs to keep our feet out of the water.  The staff tried in vain to stem the flow, but nature had the upper hand.

By the time we left, the rain had slowed a little bit, but still in the road it was up to half a car tyre’s height in depth in places, and water was cascading down the vents and the steps into the metro station.  All the while the thunder and lightning continued.

The storm got worse again and seemed to arrive right above the district.  In my apartment the hammering rain was coming in around the window frames and the lightning was cutting out the electricity, but the strikes and flashes were frequent enough not to need a light on anyway.  The rain finally subsided about 1am, but the winds have carried on to this morning.

The news today reported a British woman and her daughter being killed in the storms, I’m not sure if it has made the attention of the British press.

Some pictures/video in this El País article.

Written by Benjamin

October 10th, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Festivities, Valencia

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