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Fallas, Valencia

Tel: 96 352 5478's insider take:

The annual week-long Fallas festival, which culminates on March 19, is one of the most popular draws in Valencia. A fire festival with obscure pagan origins, Fallas centers on ninots—hundreds of towerlike tableaux vivants made out of wood, papier-mâché, wax, and other nontoxic materials—many with satirical themes and featuring politicians or celebrities in scandalous poses. Built by skilled local artisans, the ninots are placed at key points around the city in the week leading up to St. Joseph's Day. As evening falls on March 19, these displays are stuffed with fireworks and then, on the stroke of midnight, torched in huge pyres (this fire-orgy climax is known as La Cremà). A single ninot—judged by a committee to be that year's best—is saved from destruction, and ends up in the Museo Fallero (4 Plaza Monteolivete; 34-96-352-5478;

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