The “baixada de falles” (bringing down the “fallas”) in Alins on Saint John’s Eve was taken up again nearly 30 years ago, after a time in which it did not take place. Fortunately nowadays this tradition is stronger than ever. Even though they are not very well known, the “fallas” of Alins congregate, year after year, a great number of visitors on Saint John’s Eve.

The preparation of the “fallas” starts several months before in order to have them ready for June 23rd: the trunks that are to be used as “fallas” are cut, given shape and finally, once dry, with the help of a large number of inhabitants from Alins, they are given the finishing touches. The “falla mayor” (the biggest “falla”), which has been previously cut and dried, is planted in one of the extremes of the square some days before the festival for it to be burnt on Saint John’s Eve.

Small cuts are made along the trunk in which little torches are introduced to help make the fire start more quickly. Even though they are known as “fallas”, there are only six or seven real “fallas”, the ones made by the “fallaires majors” of the village. The rest are in fact small “fallas” or torches (of different sizes) made in the same way as the larger ones. The reason for this is simple: this way youngsters and old people can enjoy the procession by carrying their own “falla”.

The procession starts after dinner in the main square in Alins. This is the meeting point of all the “fallaires” who, when summoned by the ringing of the bells, wait for the moment to start their way up to the hermitage of Saint Quirc (located at the top of a hill, 20 minutes from the village).

A long time ago, according to some of the village’s older women, the route extended along the Botanal ravine and it consisted in a long and difficult path. This is why when years later, after some time without the “baixada de falles” taking place, and the tradition was started up again, they looked for an alternative route, one not as spectacular and abrupt as the former one but more accessible and eye-catching from the village. Since then Saint Quirc is the starting point of the “baixada de falles”.

Once all the “fallaires” have reached the hermitage, the “fallas” are lit one by one. Before starting the descent there is still time for some fireworks which, drawing different colours and shapes in the dark starry sky, welcome a new Saint John’s Eve. Finally, when the spectacle of gunpowder and colour comes to an end, the “fallaires” start walking down the hill giving shape to a large zigzag of fire which amazes the viewers watching from the village.

When they enter the village, all the “fallaires” are welcomed with music and applauses until they reach the square where they place their torches on the large “falla” which quickly lights up. When all the “fallaires” have placed their “falla” on the large bonfire, the typical festival dance starts, during which everyone shares wine and Saint John’s “coca” (a typical sweet bread).

It must be said that even though they are not so striking, the “fallas” of Alins have everything you could wish for: character, charm and magic, lots of magic.

Anna Saboya