Valencia lights the blue touch paper

Music and revelry, the smell of gunpowder, sweet fried 'buñuelos' and orange blossom... The people of Valencia, Spain's third largest city, know how to celebrate the arrival of spring, as our spectacular photo gallery shows.

In the run up to March each year, the whole of Valencia focuses on Las Fallas: a fire festival par excellence, dedicated to San Jose – Saint Joseph – which celebrates the arrival of spring. Not a corner of the city escapes the heady mixture of sounds and smells: gunpowder, firecrackers, music, flowers and the traditional donut-like buñuelos. You'll have to be quick if you want to see it this year, though, as the saint's day falls on March 19th and celebrations are already under way.

The event centres around the fallas themselves, gigantic satirical sculptures made of wood, papier-mache and cardboard, and peopled with figures called ninots. These masterpieces of ephemeral creativity are on display to the public on the days leading up to the night of la crema, which puts a final flaming full stop to the fiesta.

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