The Falles is a feast that is celebrated in Isil (Pallars Sobirà) during the night of Saint John. Declared a Festival of National Interest in June 2010, and in December 2015, along with 63 villages of the Pyrenees of Catalonia, Aragon, France and Andorra, Les Falles Isil were declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It is a ceremony of ancestral origin that has taken place continuously during the Summer Solstice. It is a festival that worshiping fire and where large burning logs are brought from the top of the mountain to the centre of the town. For Isil’s villagers, the night of June 23th is undoubtedly the most important of the year and it attracts thousands of visitors to the village who come to live the spectacle and the magic of the Falles.
CUTTING THE FALLES
At the start of May the fallaires (people who will carry the logs) climb through the forest to choose the pine trees that will be cut down. They then proceed to remove the bark and cut the tree into logs of in approximately meter and a half, then they cut the top of the logs so that they crack open at the top and they fill these cracks with wooden wedges. On this day the Falla Major is also selected and cut.
BEFORE BRINING THE FALLES DOWN
In the evening of the 23rd the fallaires head out of town and go to the place where they left the falls to dry. The fallaires then carry them to “the Faro”, the top of the mountain that looks down to the village and which is the starting point to the journey down. There they wait around the bonfire that then will be used to light the falles.
THE DESCENT OF THE FIRE
When night has fallen, the Falla Major is lit. This is the signal for the fallaires that it is time to start the descent. They load the burning falles on their shoulder and begin to descend the mountain, zigzagging to create the snake of fire.
THE ARRIVAL TO ISIL
The fallaires are met by the madrinas (the women) with a glass of wine, a piece of cake and a small bunch of flowers. Then, they begin a tour of the village to the Falla Major where they place all the burning fallas together, making a big bonfire, which they then dance around.