Valencia's busy calendar of traditional festivals and fiestas provides reasons to visit the city in any season. On the eve of the spring solstice, the lethargy of winter is broken by a city-wide activity as the main annual festival, the Fallas, takes place, dedicated to San Jose. Over 350 large cardboard statues and a similar number of children's creations are raised in squares and streets around the town. They depict satirical scenes of local life and national and international figures. After four days on display, they are all burned on bonfires on the night of March 19th. The fiesta programme also includes numerous parades and processions with live music, floral tributes to the Virgin and firework displays.
At about the same time as the Fallas, the Spanish bull-fighting season kicks off in Valencia. The city's most important bull-fighting cycles are held during the months of March and July. The Easter celebrations are most spectacular in the coastal towns of the region. Around thirty cofradias - lay brotherhoods - organise important penitential processions through the long streets in the area around the port. A few days later, the city celebrates the festival dedicated to San Vicente Ferrer; this includes theatrical performances by children depicting the saint's miracles on stages set up in the street.
Valencia dedicates the month of May to the city's patron saint, la Virgen de los Desamparados. The second Sunday in May is the date for the popular procession, when the old city centre is filled with the scent of flowers flowers, colours and lights, and the statue is carried through the streets. In the second half of June the narrow streets of old town come alive again, this time for Corpus Christi, a religious festival with deep roots in medieval tradition, and the modern day parades and processions echo those of the old craft guilds.
During the summer, the July Fair pays special attention to culture, with a major programme of outdoor concerts. At the end of the month it finishes with an exuberant tribute to Valencian abundance in the Battle of Flowers. After these festivities, the city is left empty in August as the locals seek milder temperatures on the beaches or in the mountain villages inland.
The official holiday of the Valencian Community is the 9th of October; it commemorates the entry of King Jaime I into the city to defeat the Arabs who had been in occupation for five centuries. Now, the city regains its vitality and finds its festive spirit again after the summer. The visitor is confronted with a multitude of activities including firework displays, parades of Moors and Christians, cavalcades and processions (all sweetened by the accompanying traditional desserts and cakes), as well as major cultural programmes throughout the city.
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