Because of the 2016 calendar specs, there was exactly one day between the end of the three week, high decibel, frenetic celebration of Fallas and the beginning of Easter week called Semana Santa in Spain. One day. How do Valencians survive a never ending month of celebration with only Saturday to clean up Fallas, put away costumes and prepare for the traditional Spanish Palm Sunday processions?
Valencia survives because much of the city leaves on vacation after Fallas and its maritime community of Cabanyal is where you find Easter. They say the city of Valencia turns its back on the sea. If you only toured the old city and its adjoining districts you wouldn’t know Valencia has a thriving Mediterranean port and charming maritime community of Cabanyal nor miles of sand beaches. Its a legacy of the Romans who preferred to build their settlements so they couldn’t be easily attacked by water or land. Valencia’s bus and metro systems get you easily to Cabanyal and the tourist bureau, Tourismo Valencia as well as 24/7 Valencia, the monthly English tourist guide both publish schedules of Semana Santa Marinera.
There are twenty Cabanyal brotherhoods called Cofradias who plan and carry out the week’s activities. During the early processions of the week they participate wearing peaked hoods that obscure their identities. On Easter Sunday they march carrying their hoods.
The fishermen and women of Cabanyal have a proud history of independent thinking and their version of the Easter Sunday procession is a less pious version of what you might see in other parts of Spain.
There are brass bands playing everything from traditional Spanish music to John Phillip Souza with some bands entirely made up of drum corps.
There are platoons of Roman soldiers complete with wigs, swords and plumed helmets.
There are Herods, sexy Salomes, Roman maidens and charioteers of all ages.
Children are an important part of the Sunday parade with parents in costume carrying infant children the entire route and older children playing in brass bands, marching in Confradias and dressed in Biblical costumes waving and throwing flowers to onlookers.
Its a family event with the crowds of onlookers and parade participants retreating to homes or local restaurants for an Easter meal when the parade ends.
The streets go quiet. The costumes are packed away for another year. The Cabanyal Easter Sunday procession signals the end to four weeks of Valencia spring festivities.