Definitive guide

La Cordà

More than 300 kg of gunpowder, a metal cage, 60 pyrotechnicians, and 20 minutes of explosions. The Cordà is Valencia’s way of ushering in Fallas.

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The Cordà is one of the most recent additions to the Fallas festival. As you might have noticed, when it comes to this festivity, Valencians have a penchant for theatrics. The Cordà, a Fallas’ Eve celebration of sorts, certainly lives up to the reputation.

This firework show takes place in Valencia’s Plaza del Ayuntamiento, inside a 600 square metres (almost 6.5 thousand square feet) metal cage. Inside it, safely distanced from the public but still within view, expert pyrotechnicians called tiradores, set off thousands of fireworks, firecrackers, and explosives of all kinds.

People in cage throwing firecrackers during Corda in Valencian Fallas
In Valencia, the tiradores set off fireworks and firecrackers inside a large metal cage called cohetódromo.

Since the display fits so perfectly with the dramatic and incendiary spirit of Fallas, you might be surprised to find out that the Cordà is actually an imported tradition. Admittedly, it doesn’t come from very far away. It is originally celebrated in Paterna, a small town in the Valencian region.

In 2022, local authorities agreed to add this event to the Fallas celebrations, as to honour the strong pyrotechnic heritage and traditions that characterise the entire region. It was thus decided that the Cordà would be integrated into Fallas on the eve of the Crida, Fallas’ official opening ceremony.

During the Cordà in Valencia, inside the metal cage, around 350 kg (more than 750 pounds) of gunpowder are distributed over 36 posts. Each is managed by experts that fire the explosives in a grand show, lasting around 20 minutes. Even though the city is not lacking in firework shows and explosions during the festival, the Cordà truly offers something different, reminding us that Fallas is not just exclusive to the city. Rather it speaks to a regional tradition of gunpowder, fire, and joy.

Cordà de Paterna

As mentioned, the Cordà is originally an event celebrated in Paterna - a town 8 km (around 5 miles) northwest of Valencia. In Paterna, the Cordà takes place on the last Sunday of August, punctuating the end of the local Fiestas Mayores with a firework show.

Paterna’s Cordà is pretty much the same as the one in Valencia, if just a lot more cemented as a tradition. It does, after all, have 200 years of history there. At night, the city becomes the stage for a pyrotechnic display of magnificent proportions.

This protective cage is the same one you’ll find in Valencia’s own version of the Cordà on the occasion of the Fallas festival. Professional pyrotechnicians, dressed up head to toe in protective gear, fire thousands of fireworks and firecrackers within the confines of a prepared area, known as the cohetódromo - the cage.

Additionally, firecrackers are hung on a rope that runs from one end of the main street to the other, lighting up the asphalt in dozens of colours as they go off.

Tiradores

The tiradores are the expert (and certified) pyrotechnicians that make the display inside the Cordà’s metal cage possible. There are around 60 of them, chosen at random among Paterna’s many experts.

The tiradores have to dress in adequate gear since they are working in extreme proximity to explosives. This includes galvanised steel helmets that cover their entire faces, full-body suits made of cowhide leather, as well as protective boots and gloves.


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Introduction
La Cordà