Well, actually, they call it La Planta, the building (or 'planting') of the Fallas statues. (What did you think I meant?)
Arriving four or five days early for Las Fallas (19th March) is a very good idea if you want to catch some of the atmosphere surrounding the Planta. It's fascinating watching the bits and pieces of plastic-wrapped statue being unloaded, and trying to guess how they will fit together and what the final statue will look like.
It's all hustle and bustle with cranes and cherry-pickers (gruas) criss-crossing the city in a last-minute dash before the 16th March deadline for the 3D jig-saws to be ready.
If you're lucky, you can sometimes spot some of the original models or drawings and compare them with the end product.
|...and after (You can just see the model from the previous picture in the left foreground).|
The crowds don't build to their peak until the day of the Crema (burning) on March 19th, so the preceding days are a great opportunity to get really close and admire the detail of the work as the statues are swung into place and the artists continue to make last-minute adjustments.
A quick brush-up might make all the difference when the judging begins...
|"This won't hurt a bit..."|
While you're passing the days before the Crema, there's plenty to see and do. There are daily Mascletas, thunderous firework displays which are all about noise, not light.
|"I said, it's very noisy, isn't it?"|
You can try churros (a bit like long, sugared doughnuts), porras (similar, but fatter) or buñelos (fruit fritters; an apple, pear, fig or pineapple on the counter advertising which varieties are available). There are also fireworks exploding all around as young children throw their petardos (bangers) and older aficionados nonchalantly light traca strings (enormous bangers, see video, below).
But nothing will fully prepare you for the 19th, the day of the Fallas, the Cabalgata del fuego (Fire Parade) and the Crema (burning). But that's another story...