Another month, another huge festival in Valencia. We should be used to this by now but we're not. Valencia Day commemorates when King Jaime expelled the Moors from the city and took back power in 1238. It is a day that has apparently been celebrated every year since then, so it's a pretty long tradition! It also coincides with the day of San Dionisio, traditionally considered Valencia's patron saint of lovers.
Every year celebrations are held on 9th October, a day that starts like all holidays in Valencia; there's an enormous fireworks display at midnight. This year it was a sight to behold and makes it into my top three favourite fireworks displays that I've seen in Valencia. That might not sound like much, but let's not forget the epic displays during Las Fallas, as well as the fireworks that seen to go off here every week for one reason or another.
This was our second time experiencing Valencia Day, so the next few paragraphs merge what we did over the two celebrations, into one mega description!
The patron saint of lovers part of the festival involves the men giving their sweethearts a silk scarf wrapped around a delicious assortment of sweet marzipan, shaped into brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. This tradition is known as Mocaorà. We did not take part because I am not one for romance and Katie is not one for marzipan. The tradition did look beautiful though and we both enjoyed the visual treats in every baker's window. It was a no-sugar day though, besides which we have given up junk food as part of Sober October, so a double reason to not have any almondy goodness.
Once this first procession ended, we were left with a Mascleta to enjoy. I'm sure you know by now, but to remind you, a Mascleta is an extremely loud firework/firecracker display that is very common in Valencia - we hear at least one a week. Community groups put them on to celebrate certain events, and the main square (Plaza de Ayuntamiento) hosts several big ones throughout the year, such as for this one, and those during Las Fallas. We even saw coloured smoke in this one, which was a new sight. We were positioned brilliantly and our 360 recording is as good as you've come to expect from us. We still didn't see anyone wearing hearing protection though! I guess ears are just made differently here and don’t suffer from the same damage that ours do.
After the fireworks, we explored the medieval market, which was set but all around the Torres de Serranos and across the lovely old bridge opposite. This kind of market pops up a few times a year, and we enjoyed people watching and choosing what food to eat while trying to imagine what life was like back then.
The final parade of the day was the big one, with groups dressed as Christians and Moors marching through the city. King Jaime (aka James) the First seized power in the city over 800 years ago, freeing it from the Moors and returning it to Christian rule. This is celebrated in fine style, as people in intricate outfits, dancers, horses, camels, and some tastefully decorated floats make their way around the old town. It was awesome to watch and really showed off the commitment of Valencians to brass bands and festivals. They truly love it here!
We outstayed our welcome though and watched/filmed the parade in the rain for hours until our feet grew tired. We really weren't expecting it to last as long as it did…but nonetheless it was another wonderful day in the city of Valencia and a great time to visit, if you are so inclined. If not, watch our 360 VR experience of the day to learn more about the day and enjoy it all from the comfort of your headset. Until next time!