America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Mayday Bravo

And whether you’re keeping the red flag flying here, celebrating the Internationale or just twirling around a maypole it’s Mayday Bravo today.

It was, of course, an Irishman, Jim Connell, who came up with the emotive words in 1889 to go with the tune O Tannenbaum.

He had been travelling by train, where you can do a lot of your thinking, in London.

So to mark May Day we’ll revive our Rainy Days and Songdays occasional series with these May Day tunes.

Way to go, Joe

Folk champion: Joan Baez


Joe Hill – Joan Baez: And this workers anthem relates to a union leader, framed on a murder charge and executed in Salt Lake City.

But the organiser stands for everyman and of course returns to the narrator in a dream.

And in typical American storytelling style it covers the geography of the whole country… from San Diego up to Maine.

Lennon doctrine

Comrade Lennon: And Jimmy in Prague

Working Class Hero – John Lennon: They were more Lennon than Lenin in Prague during Soviet rule.

When they would congregate at the Lennon wall to protest.

Lennon, the Working Class Hero from Liverpool, has influenced as many if not more around the world from Hamburg to New York and beyond.

Tennessee tunes

Music town: Memphis, Tennesse

Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford: This ditty of a song with the catchy refrain derives from Kentucky’s Merle Travis in 1947.

And the line ‘You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt” came from a letter written by Travis’s brother John.

We’ve taken Tennessee Ford’s 1955 version which hit the top of the Billboard charts and was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

The New Boss

Something to say: The Who

Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who: And the Cockney Four whose shows were as much about menace as music nail it here.

And they captured the working class fascination of the Mods in Quadrophenia in their odyssey to Brighton.

But it’s this anthem against The Man and its clarion call: ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

Lady Donna

Summer time: Donna Summer

She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer: Now you might not associate the Queen of Disco with a societal message.

But the New Yorker penned this after seeing a toilet attendant asleep on her shift at a post-Grammy event in West Hollywood.

And a reminder too for all that while music is replete with messages of working men, working women have had it just as bad and worse.





Countries, Culture, Europe

When the Portuguese boat comes in

You’re fishing off the Algarve coast and The Scary One wants to know when the Portuguese boat comes in.

Or more where the toilet is.

The answer at the westernmost point in Europe is Madeira!

Safer then to indulge in the any number of fish outlets in Piscine Portugal.

Now sardines have become a go-to family meal dish for as long as we can remember on this island of ours.

And we probably take our links with Portugal, the home of the sardine, for granted.

But our love of this fish dish is just another link in the world’s longest-standing alliance, between England and Portugal.

The Old Alliance

Portuguese fishing men of awe: And calming seas

Dating back to 1373, the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was formalised in 1387 when John of Gaunt’s daughter Philippa wed John I.

English and Portuguese nobility discovered they got on quite nicely and Charles II and Catherine of Braganza further extended the links.

And most notably brought tea to this island.

Now you may be asking why we’re bringing you this royal history lesson.

Well, possibly because of the day that’s in it with Queen Elizabeth celebrating her 96th birthday today.

But also because our Portuguese friends have been in touch with an update on their bounce back ahead of a busy year.

And they have flagged up these Algarve treats when you venture further afield than poolside.

Nine lives in the Algarve

And what’s on the menu? Fish, of course

■Take a boat trip in Ria Formosa Natural Park, a unique coastal lagoon in central Algarve, elected as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.

Visit Cape St. Vincent, the southwest edge of mainland Europe, which is particularly spectacular at sunset.

Hike along some of Algarve’s key walking routes such as the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail near Lagoa, with views over the Benagil Cave. 

A window into another world: Of caves

Cycle on the Ecovia trail to discover the natural marvels of the region. Highlights include the birdwatching haven of the Alvor Estuary (and my old friends the spoonbill birds).

■And we all love a Sagres when we’re in Portugal but probably don’t take in the majestic cliffs of Sagres point, or the pretty coastal fishing villages of Salema and Burgau.

■Now southern Spain is rightly proud of their Moorish history but the North Africans were in the Algarve too. The Castelo de Silves is a great national monument to learn about the Moors.

You’ll want to get out on the water too. Take a ferry from Olhão to Armona Island or from Faro to the least developed and inhabited Deserta Island.

■Ah, yes, our sardines, or fresh seafood in Portimão, at one of the many riverside restaurants or in Olhão, next to Ria Formosa promenade. Head inland and try the stews too.

■But not forgetting the beaches. And the award-winning beaches like Dona Ana, Camillo, Meia, Marinha and Falésia beach.

That’ll keep you busy and I think you’ll agree that it’s all there when your Portuguese boat comes in.


Caribbean, Countries, Culture

The going’s gruff in Tobago

The going’s gruff in Tobago as the Caribbean Islanders celebrate the return of a sport dear to my heart, goat racing.

Twasn’t the goats’ fault, of course, with Covid calling a halt to the annual Easter Tuesday spectacle.

But you know what, they’ve been straining at the leash to get going again.

Horse racing’s wee brother

Give ‘em enough rope: With Levi and Bandanaman the goat in Tobago

Goat racing has been running since 1925 when the ordinary Tobagonians put on their own event.

After the Lord Mayor’s Show on Easter Monday, or the equivalent of it in the Caribbean, the horse-racing event for the rich.

I’m happy to say that my old friends in Tobago are using yours truly to promote this year’s race.

The Race of 2019

Kidding about: With Levi and my racing goat Bandanaman in Tobago

With a picture of the legendary run-off between Bandanaman (my goat) and Antony Vickers’ Vic from 2019 on their site.

And don’t be fooled by the frame.

The trick to goat racing is to stay behind Billy Goat Gruff.

The competition: The Goat Race

As our host Marsha pointed out to Antony who was in his own race to beat the goat.

Thankfully I’d had Levi train me in the best way to race goats.

Levi in Da House

Levi is what I guess you’d call in the business a Goat Whisperer.

The best way to train a racing goat is to start from at least two months out.

The experts tell us you should learn to walk your goat at increasing speeds until they’re running in front of the trainer.

And they’re even put on a swimming routine to build up muscle.

Just like horse racing, the goats are divided into several classifications.

There’s C2 (first-time runners and that’ll be my Bandanaman).

And then C1 (runners from the previous year), B (running for the past two years) and A (most experienced runners).

Festival time

The Tobagonians say the Goat Race Festival has evolved into a family affair.

And for the slower-paced there is a Crab Race (yes, I got Crabs too in Tobago!)

Generations meet up and visitors can partake in the landmark event, placing bets or even play jockey themselves.

Trust me and I’m not kidding, this is great fun.

And you’ll feel like quite the athlete and expert.

And you’ll soon be sharing tips like… the going’s gruff in Tobago.



America, Central America, Countries, Culture, UK

Fantastically Great Women

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World.

That’s Daddy’s Little Girl, The Scary One and my Dear Old Mum, and Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and a host of others.

And showing here that women aren’t just for International Women’s Day but should be valued daily…

We’re flagging up a celebratory musical which has been touring the UK.

And which is dropping in on our own wee capital, Edinburgh here in Scotland.

Bus boy: And I’d have given Rosa my seat

Premiered last Autumn it is running at the King’s Theatre from April 25-30 .

FGWWCTW is based on the popular books by Kate Pankhurst who realised while writing them that she was related to the Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

The sisterhood of women from history are brought to life on stage.

From Civil Rights heroine Rosa to Marie Curie to Frida Kahlo and more when inquisitive heroine Jade discovers the Gallery of Greatness on a school trip.

All of which allows us to do a deeper dive into these Fantastically Great Women.

Rosa Rising

Sit where I want: Rosa Parks

The most famous bus passenger in history was seamstress Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white passenger.

And so she became the symbol and the headline name for a legal action which struck a key victory for the Civil Rights Movement.

She has a museum dedicated to her in Troy University in Montgomery

And much more besides including name checks in the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Where this male, pale and stale dude was honoured to share a seat with her statue.

Vote for Women

Let’s here it for the women: And give them the vote

Like all injustices, it is only when they have been corrected.

With the passage of history their sheer ludicrousness hits home.

And of course at the time the protesters have to take desperate and self-sacrificing measures.

And they are often pilloried for it.

Stand up and stand proud Emmeline Pankhurst.

And her Suffragettes who went on hunger strike, chained themselves to railings.

And one even threw herself in front of a royal’s horse and was killed.

All so that they could come out of the kitchen and vote.

And yet too few of us are made aware of The Pankhurst Museum in Manchester where she lived. Mmm, plus ca change.

And now for the science bit

And now for the science: Marie Curie

Now time was, and still is to a certain extent, when science was considered the preserve of menfolk.

Try telling that to Maria Skłodowska (you’ll probably know her, erm, by her married and Francocised name Marie Curie).

Well, the two-time Nobel winner and radioactivity pioneer, is celebrated the world over with her trust is active in the field of Cancer care.

But to get right to the heart of her and her story visit the Museum of Maria Sklodowska-Curie in Warsaw in Poland.

And art too

Face of women’s art: Frida Kahlo

And yes, if you were to ask most men (and probably a few women too) to name a female artist they would struggle.

They’d probably not get past Tracey Emin, great artist though she undoubtedly is,

Of course a greater modern appreciation for Frida Kahlo is changing that.

And not just for opening up the folksy world of Mexico to us.

But also as a champion of the Chicano Movement of Hispanics in the USA, feminism and the LGBTQ+ rights.

Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, or La Casa Azul or Blue House as it is known, in the Coyoacan neighbourhood of Mexico City.

Edinburgh’s creme de la creme

Pottering about: JK Rowling

And what about the city itself which will be hosting the musical Fantastically Great Women at the King’s.

Scandalously, and this is the case with statues the world over which is one of my pet subjects, there is scant recognition of women.

Unless, of course, you are a queen which is the case in Edinburgh’s port town of Leith where Victoria is immortalised.

We should take our lead from the working-class neighbourhood of Craigmillar.

It has marked the social activist Helen Crummy with a statue.

And where she leads educationalist Mary Erskine, suffragist Elsie Inglis or writer Muriel Spark.

I dare say though that if any woman will be placed on a podium it will be an adopted Edinburgh celeb.

JK Rowling, who her public profile aside, would deserve it for giving us Harry Potter.


America, Countries, Europe, Music

Ladies Marmalade from America to here

Now I’m back home doin’ 9 to 5, livin’ the grey flannel life, but when I turn off to sleep, memories creep. More, more, more Ladies Marmalade from America to here.

I was a bit of a gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, Dada myself in CityWalk’s Rising Star Karaoke Bar in Orlando.

When despite the acclamations of the MC that my rendition of the Patti Labelle classic was ‘how to do a chick’s song’…

I actually murdered it, while my hosts taped me for posterity.

Daddy Marmalade

All of which nostalgia came flooding back as I watched Daddy’s Little Girl nail Lady Marmalade with her dance troupe in Tranent in East Lothian in Scotland.

Lady Marmalade, of course, is a celebration of Creole and bordillo culture ‘in old New Orleans.’

Though it morphs into Moulin Rouge by the time Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera & Pink! got their hands on it.

I know it was for the film Moulin Rouge, but I hazard that Lady Marmalade would only ever have worked a sizzling city like Norleans.


Now those of us who criss-cross the Oo Es of Eh to cover its travel fairs especially look forward to when it is Norleans‘ turn.

We still wait, and for the time being we make do by smiling at the pictures of our old pal and Travel legend JP Thompson.

As he decked himself head to toe in kitsch carnival clothes for a Bourbon Street parade.

Why then he took shy when calls went up for karaoke volunteers that night in Orlando we’re still interrogating him to this day.

Now we’re all living with Covid one of the staples of a party holiday, the karaoke is thankfully back.

Karaoke memories

Fab four: Terry, Bernard, Claire and Ray in Portugal

Our first was in the fun surroundings of Cabanas in the Algarve, Portugal (and we keep going back)

When ‘Leeds Ray’ and myself whip-cracked away into the theme from Raw Hide.

More Booze Brothers us than Blues Brothers.

Nor did either of these embarrassments put me off getting up again and again.

But with age has come experience and I lowered my range to channel my inner Chuck Berry.

And Memphis Tennessee on board MSC in the Norwegian fjords.

Our duet

Tag team: With The Scary One in the fjords

On none of these occasions has the Scary One joined me on the Mic.

Although I guess she might plump for Hit the Road, Jock.

Whatever your karaoke song of choice, whether Ladies Marmalade from America to here, enjoy.


Countries, Culture, Europe

Nefertiti on the Island of Museums in Berlin

Where else would you expect to see an Egyptian pharaoh)? Yes, that’s the bust of Nefertiti (stop sniggering at the back) on the Island of Museums in Berlin.

I’ve just been catching up with my old freundes from Deutschland who have been filling me in on among other things their Island of Museums in their capital.

Not what you would initially associate with Berlin. 

But we’re talking a World Heritage site here in the historic Mitte on Spreeinsel (Spree Island).

It encompasses five large museums built under the Prussian rulers.

Here comes the Sun Queen

She’s looking at you: Nefertiti

As well as a reception and exhibition building, the James Simon Gallery, opened in 2019.

The bust had arrived in Berlin in 1913.

Along with the other finds from Amarna unearthed during the excavations of 1911–13 and allotted to the German team.

It had entered the collection of James Simon, who had funded the excavations.

Simon initially displayed the bust in his villa on Tiergartenstrasse, where it was first presented to Emperor Wilhelm II. 

Nefertiti who you’ll find in the Neues Museum is known as the Sun Queen.

And together with her husband Akhenaten paid homage to the new religion of the sun.

A gift of antiquities

Pillars of strength: The Pergamon

The three-winged Pergamon Museum by Alfred Messel is the most visited museum in Berlin.

It displays the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Islamic Art.

The Collection of Classical Antiquities is one of the most important collections of Greek and Roman art in the world.

The most famous work is the Roman Pergamon Altar, whose sculpted frieze depicts the battle between gods and giants.

This bodes well

Dome from home: The Bode

The Bode Museum houses a unique collection of sculptures, showcasing exhibits from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, including works from Donatello, Bernini and Canova.

Since July 2019, visitors can once again visit the James Simon Cabinet in its original room.

It had been closed as a result of anti-Semitism under the Nazi dictatorship.

In summer, the riverbank opposite is a popular meeting place for Berliners.

Think on

Chin scratcher: The Thinker

The Alte Nationalgalerie is considered one of the most comprehensive collections of art from the period between the French Revolution and the First World War.

And it’s here you’ll find The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, as well as works by Manet, Monet and Renoir.

Uber Altes

At the gates: The Brandenburg

Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s magnus, the Altes Museum, designed in 1830 was the first museum building on the island.

And for the first time, the royal art collections were shown to the public in a specially designed antique-style building.

Today, under its expansive circular dome you’ll see sculpture, jewellery, vases and coins.

From Greek and Etruscan art, as well as from the Roman Empire.

Gold and silver jewellery is displayed under a blue ceiling in a special treasure chamber.

And so while, of course, you’ll visit the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall isle recommend too that you take in the Island of Museums too.

Five museums on 8.6 hectares compresses a world of history in a compact area just the way we like it.

Living museums

With Onur in Istanbul

And if you’re thinking here the intimacy of the proximity of the Topkapi Museum, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, you’ll not be alone.

While it would be remiss not to mention the Smithsonians in Washington DC.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… those who forget their history will be condemned to repeat it.

And so span the generations and bust in on Nefertiti on the Island of Museums in Berlin.





Countries, Culture, UK

Banksy, Murtsy and a history of graffiti

If my school had had a more liberal attitude to wall art, folks would be talking now about Banksy, Murtsy and a history of graffiti.

After all I was only following in a Classical tradition that dates back to the Romans and Pompeii.

For yesterday’s lewd diagrams to denote their red light district think today’s cock and balls.

Whether the graffiti great of the Classics world had the same celebrity though as Banksy has been lost to history.

An exhibition of yourself

Banksy’s capital: The Flower Thrower

But the shadowy scribbler’s notoriety is richly deserved and are celebrated at a special exhibition in Covent Garden, London.

The Art of Banksy is the world’s largest touring collection of Banksy artworks, boasting over 100 original works.

And it has already been shown in Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Auckland, Toronto, Miami, Gothenburg, Chicago, San Francisco and Sydney.

Whether they have the rat and briefcase piece he drew when I took la famiglia to New York for the first time I’ll have to go along to Covent Garden to discover.

The exhibition highlights works made for charities all over the world.

From the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation to international activists Greenpeace.

Showing pieces from private collections, The Art of Banksy showcases his most iconic pieces.

Alongside rare works never seen by the public before.

American Graffiti

With bells on: Liberty Bell, Philly

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, lays claim to being the modern-day home of graffiti.

Although, as in most things, New York contests this and insists the City that Never Sleeps is an upgrade.

If you’re a city break fan and seek out the places where the ragged people go then you’ll always glory in graffiti.

Graffiti always explodes where repression reigns and the Berlin Wall was probably the most graffitied surface in history.

Czech this out

Imagine: Prague

We saw it too elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe and particularly in Prague.

Where the John Lennon Wall came to represent the uprising against the Soviet invasion of the Czech capital in 1968.

Put the boot in

The bad guy: Putin

Of course these challenging times have inspired an outpouring of creativity to reflect our support for Ukraine.

And our revulsion at the invasion and our belief that the writing is on the wall for Putin.

The good guy: Zelenskyy

So you have my permission to make your mark on history.

And maybe I’ll get my spray paint out and get my name out there.

It’s got a ring to it, doncha think for the next exhibition…

Banksy, Murtsy and a history of graffiti.

How to get there

Icons: The exhibition

The exhibition at 50 Earlham Street is on Thursday and Friday: 10.00 – 21.00, Saturday: 9.30 – 19.00, Sunday & Monday: 10.00 – 18.00.

And if you don’t know London, the nearest stations are Covent Garden (3 minute walk), Leicester Square (5 minute walk), Tottenham Court Road (8 minute walk) Holborn (8 minute walk) and Charing Cross (10 minute walk).

Tickets are priced from £14.50 and can be booked online at or over the phone, on 08440 412001.

Countries, Culture, UK

How many Ukrainians can Buckingham Palace take?

You do the math, but with 775 bedrooms how many Ukrainians can Buckingham Palace take?

The Queen has moved back, of course, to Windsor Castle in Royal Berkshire.

Which means it’s free.

A room for free: For Ukrainian Vlodomir

And even someone of her considerable wealth could do with the £350 per month government payment for taking in a Ukrainian family.

It would all help to pay her second-born’s settlement with Virginia Giuffre.

A day at the palace

Don’t go out on the balcony: The Royals

Of course nobody gets into Buck House for free, unless your titled or entitled.

So it’ll be £30 of your pleb money for a visit to the State Rooms or £55 when it’s Combined with a Royal Day Out.

And that’s the State Rooms, The Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews.

We’ve been down this route before flagging up the royal palaces around the UK which you can visit.

With the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the foot of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh an old favourite and former neighbour.

How to explain the British reverence, fascination and obsession for the Royal Family?

It’s a combination of tradition, pomp, ceremony and soap opera.

Tourist magnet

Snap happy: Get your pic how you can

And it is perhaps the biggest draw for tourists to the UK.

The experts, of course, are the guides who have an unrivalled knowledge of the history.

Whether they’re the Beefeaters at the Tower of London or the guides at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

And while your Beefeater is stiff and proper there’s a twinkle in the eye of your Edinburgh guide.

A bloody royal tale

Maneater: Saoirse Ronan as Mary Queen of Scots

And he will cheerfully walk you through the story of the murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ favourite David Rizzio.

You’ll be invited into the Queen’s Chamber where the Scots lairds (that’s lords) killed the Italian in front of the queen.

And wend your way down the spiral stone staircase where the guide will point out to you and the impressionable American and Asian party…

Of the blood embedded in the stones.

I swear I saw a brush protrude from his satchel.

Haggis farms

Winging it: The haggis

Us Scots are noted for our dry deadpan wit and another example springs to mind of how the guides play with their party.

When Stevie apologised to the Irish party I was with in Aberdeen.

That we were running late and would not be able to visit the haggis farm.

And I had to prompt him later to put them right in case they wrote about the haggis farm in their articles.

Armoured and dangerous: And knowing smiles

So maybe it’s best to leave that question I set at the outset to the guides who know as much about the royal residences as the queen.

How many Ukrainians can Buckingham Palace take?


Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, South America

Fannie Lou to Putin a sweep of statues

Celebrating 35 years of one and the toppling of another… from Fannie Lou to Putin a sweep of statues.

Bandanini and Bandanettes will recognise this as a pet subject here.

And how we prefer to champion statues of extraordinary ordinary people (and animals) than dubious war leaders and slave traders.

Fannie Lou Hamer died this day 35 years ago and is marked in the fist-clenched statue in Ruleville, Mississippi in the Deep South.

The Civil Rights activist who ‘was sick and tired of being sick and tired’ and upstaged LBJ at the Democrat Convention.

And Putin, the imperialist whose waxwork has been removed from the Paris Grèvin Museum’s gallery of world leaders.

The erection of statues and their deselection and destruction are a touchstone of where we are in society.

So it’s timely to ask where we are with totems of tyrants.

Putin on a podium

Gotcha: Vladimir Putin

Few things say narcissist more than erecting statues of yourself or having someone do it for you.

And if your palm has been greased to the tune of $1.2million by a Russian-sponsored development agency.

Then you’ll be happy to put up a statue of the Russian megalomaniac in your ski resort in his puppet state of Kyrgyzstan.

Stalin structures

Go away you little people: Joseph Stalin

To the rest of us he was the perpetrator of the deaths of millions in the Soviet Union.

To some fellow Georgians (though not my old pal George, their ambassador in Dublin) Joseph Stalin is still a favourite son.

As he is in Russia, Mongolia and even more frighteningly outside a nursery school in Asht in Tajikistan.

Mao how

Clap of thunder: Mao

But in a game of Top Trumps psychopaths even Stalin would lose out to the master of the Cultural Revolution in China.

And yet Mao Zedong is still revered in Tianfu Square, Chengdu, Sichuan.

Where he is larger than life, a 100ft statue of the despot still looking down on the little people.

Chavez on high

Time to go, Hugo: Hugo Chavez

The further south you get in the Caribbean the more interest the locals show towards dystopian Venezuela just a few miles across the sea in South America.

Particularly the Spanish Ladies who make Trinidad & Tobago their home.

Venezuela is depending on your viewpoint a brave resistor of American imperialism or a tinpot Latin American dictator.

Either way you can see Hugo Chavez’s likeness marked everywhere in Venezuela in the 17 or more statues and busts and countless tat.

A good Korea mood

Here’s to me: Kim

And in North Korea it was even something of an export industry until the UN and their sanctions stepped in.

You get the Kims (obvs) but our browsing threw up a trade in statues for abroad.

From the Mansuade Art Studio in Pyongyang.

Where they do a roaring business to dictators, particularly in Africa.

Shake on it: Robert Mugabe

The hold that dictators can have on us was brought home to me by a Ranger on our game drive.

In Mount Kamdeboo in the Eastern Cape in South Africa where when I asked the Zimbabwean emigree his thoughts on Robert Mugabe.

And he surprised me by saying that in Zimbabwe the people still respected their elders.

Come on your Rangers: And a Zimbabwean in South Africa

And where there is a demand the capitalist communists of Mansuade were always happy to oblige.

Something to dwell on as we recap today on where we are now. From Fannie Lou to Putin a sweep of statues.

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Music

Erect those Las Fallas in Valencia again

No, you mucky pups, this is not a phallic fest but rather it is time to Erect those Las Fallas in Valencia again.

Because Las Phallas are the flaws… and ours come in all shapes and sizes

As can be seen on the streets of Valencia in oversized satirical erections… of public figures.

That is apart from the last couple of years when Covid put it on hold.

Crida Credo

Fireworks: And Valencia goes wild

OK then, the Spanish fest all kicks off with the ‘Crida’ – the opening ceremony where the ‘Mayor of Falleras’ encourages citizens and visitors to enjoy the festival.

And it was declared an event of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2016, Las Fallas has returned.

There are traditional acts such as the mascleates (fireworks), late night parties, and art installations.

Where you’ll see around 800 monuments fill the streets from 15-19 March.

The origins of the fest are hundreds of years old.

That was when carpenters would burn old remains from their workshops every 19 March.

That coincides with the celebrations of San José, the patron saint of carpenters.

And this marked the end of winter and gave a warm welcome to spring.

So, if you’re in Valencia this week.

Or you’ve already enjoyed spectacle and fests as a whole then you’ll see this really does stand up as a magical fest get-away.

Gunpowder, music and art

Smiles better: Spain saves its kisses for you

One of the most spectacular acts of Las Fallas is the mascletà.

That’s Valèncian-style fireworks – daily at 2 pm until 19 March with a roar of gunpowder to shake off that sangria hangover.

In the evening, guests can visit the Turia Gardens for fireworks (and we love fireworks) at the castle. 

On the nights of 15-16 March, València begins the planta.

The erection of monuments in the streets where 800 works of art are spread across 400 locations in the city.

These fallas are classified into different categories according to their complexity, size and originality and the locals work on them all the year around.

The most spectacular are placed in the historic centre – Ciutat Vella – and the neighbourhoods of Ruzafa and Gran Vía.

Making a name: For Valencia

The best way to appreciate the monuments is with a guided tour.

And get a local to highlight the most spectacular sculptures and tell visitors the details and traditions of the festival. 

Like all the best fests there is an awards ceremony in which the Fallas artists collect prizes for their masterpieces.

As well la ofrenda – the offering – in which the city offers flowers to the Virgen de los Desamparados, the patron saint of València.

Festivalgoers dress in traditional attire, carry bouquets and walk the streets to the beat of local musicians.

The procession ends at the Plaza de la Virgen, where a giant image of the Patron Saint is installed and covered with flowers. 

La Cremà – the end and beginning 

Burning love: And a message from the sponsors

With the ‘Cremà’ comes the final act of the Fallas. On 19 March, the sculptures are set aflame in great bonfires that cover the city.

The process is carried out in a staggered way, starting at 8pm with smaller statues and 11pm with the larger ones and the winners. 

With the bonfires come the finale fireworks, which signal the end of Las Fallas.   

Events are free to attend and 2022 flights from £17 via SkyScanner

So Erect those Las Fallas in Valencia again.