Here’s a picture of what’s happening in the days leading up to the big week of Fallas.

On the left is one of the little street cleaning trucks tidying up before the crowds arrive.  On the right is a popup churro vender.  These have popped up on street corners throughout the city, and they’re also anticipating the crowds of Fallas.  In the middle background is a Fallas sculpture, similar to what we might see on a parade float, but it will be setup stationary in the square.

Here are the piece parts ready to be assembled.

You can still see details of the construction at this point.

And the crane ready to lift the pieces into position.

Here’s another, already assembled.

And some of the details of the craftsmanship involved.

These are all made by private neighborhood clubs, and take months to design and build.  I think the sight of these huge sculptures set on fire on the last night of Fallas will be pretty impressive.  Apparently they’ve figured out how to keep the entire city from going up in flames as well.

The excitement is building throughout the city.  People are pouring in, there are constant fireworks, especially in the main city square, the ayuntamiento, where there’s a big show everyday at 2 pm.  Those shows draw huge crowds, though the fireworks are all about noise and smoke, quite different from the light shows we’re used to at home.  These loud, booming fireworks are called mascletas, and people here adore them.  The night fireworks we have on the 4th of July have an entirely different name, fuegos artificiales.

To get the idea of mascletas, put on your headphones, turn the volume all the way up, and watch this video.

After the mascletas, a cloud of that divine firecracker incense floats over the city, sometimes thick enough to create interesting effects as the sun shines through.

Finally, after the noise and crowds, the cleanup crews take the streets again.

Next week the main events start!