Everything You Need To Know About Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
Spanish festivals are something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. From tomato fights like La Tomatina to all things flamenco fairs like the Feria de Abril in Seville, festivals in Spain are celebrated in a big way. And one of the most popular Spanish festivals is Las Fallas in Valencia, a 5-day long street party with spectacular fireworks and light shows that culminates with everything pretty much being set on fire. But there’s a lot more to it than this, so here is a guide with everything you need to know about Las Fallas to help you with your planning.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Las Fallas Festival?
- 2 A guide to Las Fallas main events
- 3 Other things to do during Las Fallas
- 4 Top tips for making the most of Las Fallas
- 5 Where to stay in Valencia during Las Fallas Festival
- 6 Planning your trip to Valencia
- 7 Travelling to Spain? Check out my other Spain articles
- 8 Like this post? Pin and save for later
What is Las Fallas Festival?
If you are reading this article it’s likely that you may be planning a trip to Valencia to experience Las Fallas, so you probably have an idea of what the festival is about. Most people know Las Fallas as the Spanish festival where everything is burnt at the end, but there is a lot more to it than that.
Las Fallas is the biggest festival in Valencia, and its importance is such that it has been added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage of humanity list. Its origin dates back to the middle ages, when carpenters, celebrating the arrival of spring, used to burn pieces of wood that were used to prop up their lights during winter. Over time they added rags and old clothes, which gave the bonfires the aspect of effigies, and gradually it evolved into the artistic ninots (puppets in Valencian) that we see today.
Today, spectacular papier-mâché statues (called fallas) are erected throughout the city. A falla is made up of ninots arranged to create a scene, typically satirical and of political nature which often include topical characters such as celebrities and politicians. There are two types of fallas – falla infantil (children’s falla) and main falla. Each neighbourhood has one of each.
During the festival the whole city moves out to the streets, where every year between 15th and 19th March, the whole city becomes an outdoor art gallery and never-ending party. The fallas are displayed for a few days, and on the last day of the festival they are burnt on a symbolic cleansing act celebrating the arrival of spring.
A guide to Las Fallas main events
The whole five days of the festival is a continuous street party. No matter where you go in the city, you will find people cooking paella in the streets, spilling out from bars and restaurants, or throwing firecrackers (this can be a bit nerve racking but in reality it’s a harmless bit of fun).
There are plenty of things to do in Valencia while you’re there, but there are a few key events that you need to be aware of so you can make the most of the festival. These events fall on the same days every year and are fixed in the festival program, so here is a comprehensive guide to Las Fallas festival main events.
Every day the festival kicks off at 8am with La Despertà or ‘wake up call’. Each casal (local falla club) has its own brass band that march down the streets playing lively music, with the fallers (falla club members) following behind and throwing firecrackers.
It’s a part of the festival that not everyone appreciates, especially after a night out, so make sure you pack your ear plugs if you want to be able to ignore La Despertà.
La Mascletà is an explosive and overwhelmingly loud display of firecrackers and one of my favourite events of Las Fallas. Every day at 2pm between 1st and 19th March, each neighbourhood has a Mascletà, but the main and most impressive one is in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It’s a true spectacle of sound that reaches 120 decibels (as loud as a jet engine!), so make sure you keep your mouth open to avoid damaging your ear drums!
La Mascletà at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento gets extremely busy but it’s worth the experience. Just make sure you arrive early to get a good spot.
La Plantà takes place on the 15th March, and it’s when the fallas are built up and completed in preparation for the festival. Every year all the fallas are entered into a competition, so you will notice a lot of frantic activity from each neighbourhood throughout the city, in a bid to have their falla ready for the judging the following day.
The 16th March is when the winning fallas are announced and when the ninot indultat is chosen. The ninot indultat is the only puppet that will be saved from the burning on the last day of the festival and will be saved for posterity and exhibited in the local Museum Fallero.
While you’re in Valencia you will come across women and young girls dressed in elaborate silk outfits that look from another era. They are the falleras, and each year, out of all the falleras in the city, two will be chosen to be Fallera Mayor, or ‘Fallas Queen’. The competition is fierce for this ‘royal’ title, which is extremely prestigious and it is associated with wealth, as it costs a lot of money to enter. Just the outfits can cost thousands of euros, and they are fine examples of Valencian silk craftsmanship.
A great time to see the falleras is the morning of 17th March from 9am, when they set off from their own neighbourhood casal in a parade towards the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the award giving ceremony takes place.
La Ofrenda, the flower offering, takes place over the course of two days, 17th and 18th March, in the Plaza de la Virgen. All the casals across the city congregate in the plaza to take part in the flower offering to the Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), the patron saint of Valencia.
A statue of the Virgen is placed on a pedestal that is then covered in flowers to create a giant cape. It’s a true sensory experience – visually beautiful, aromatic from the thousands of flowers and a great spot to enjoy the festival atmosphere and do some fallera spotting.
Nit del Foc
In the early hours of 18th March head down to the Passeig de l’Albereda for the impressive fireworks display of the Nit del Foc (Fire Night). The fireworks start at 1.30am but head there a couple of hours before to get a good spot.
Bring a bottle of wine and snacks with you to enjoy while you way for the spectacle to start. Just make sure you take the litter with you when you’re done.
Cavalcada del Foc
As the festival approaches its end for another year, its grand finale starts with the Cavalcada del Foc (Fire Parade), a colourful and noisy parade with all sorts of fire displays. The parade includes floats, giant mechanisms as well as people in costumes, street performances and music.
The Cavalcada del Foc takes place at 7pm on 19th March along Carrer de Colón and Plaza de la Porta de la Mar. As with every main event in Las Fallas, it gets very busy, so arrive early to get a good spot.
La Cremà (the burning) is the climax of the whole festival, when the fallas are set on fire. At 10pm all the casals set the Falla Infantil (the children’s falla) on fire first. Then towards midnight, the main fallas are burnt, with the ones in the city centre getting burnt later.
It is a real spectacle and experience to witness these pieces of art that sometimes cost millions of euros and a lot of skill and effort to create, razed to the ground to a pile of ashes.
Making huge bonfires in the middle of a city may sound like a crazy thing to do, but fire brigades from all over Spain travel to Valencia for La Cremà. The burning of the main fallas is staggered so the fire brigade teams can make it from one falla to the next to ensure everything is burnt safely and in a controlled manner.
Other things to do during Las Fallas
Visit the main fallas
There are a few fallas every year that go overboard with their elaborate sculptures, and they are considered to be part of the Fallas ‘Special Section’. Going to see these incredible works of art is a must for anyone visiting Valencia during Las Fallas. So get your comfy shoes on and get walking!
The main and most elaborate fallas are:
- Falla Cuba – Calle Literato Azorín
- Falla Sueca – Calle Literato Azorín
- Falla Reino de Valencia – Calle Duque de Calabria
- Falla Almirante Cadarso – Conde de Altea
- Falla Convento de Jerusalén
- Falla Plaza del Pilar
- Falla Exposición
- Falla Na Jordana
- Falla L’Antiga de Campanar
Here is a map of where these fallas are located, so you can plan your own walking tour of Las Fallas.
Alternatively, you can join an organised tour that will cover some of the main fallas and tell you about the history of Valencia. Here are a few options:
Enjoy the spectacular street lights
A few years ago a few fallas illuminated their streets in a truly spectacular way, sometimes with musical light shows that attracted thousands of people. In recent times, due to safety reasons and in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint, some of these fallas have scaled back their street lights display. The current street lights are still worth going to see, so make sure you don’t miss them. The displays in Calle Cuba and Calle Sueca in Ruzafa are the most prominent.
Saying this, if you are a big fan of lightshows, Falla Malvarrosa-Ponz-Cavite still holds their annual light spectacle. Head that way one evening to enjoy this visual and musical delight that starts at 8pm.
Indulge in some Fallas food
You’re in Valencia, so no matter what time of the year you are here there is one dish that nobody should leave the city without trying – paella, of course! Paella is the traditional Valencian food par excellence. And Fallas is the perfect time to try it, as every falla will have a paella cooking in the street at some point. You may get lucky and be asked to join in!
If you really want some paella local insight and you have the time and energy with all the parties and events on offer, you could also try your hand at an authentic Valencian paella workshop, like I did a few months ago.
Other delights that you must try is buñuelos, a traditional fried dough fritter, a bit like a doughnut, that is typical of Fallas time. Try both buñuelos de calabaza (made with pumpkin) and buñuelos de viento (plain), which you can find in street stalls where they are freshly cooked.
Other Valencian delights to try are horchata (tiger nut milk) and fartons, a light sweet pastry stick that is dipped into the horchata, and churros or porras (big fat churros) with sweet thick chocolate.
Top tips for making the most of Las Fallas
Getting around Valencia during Las Fallas
With the fallas sculptures pretty much taking over the city, getting around Valencia in public transport can be a bit of a mission. The metro works well, but with only a few lines, it’s not always practical, especially when moving around within the city centre.
Luckily, Valencia is a very walkable city, so if you are staying within half an hour walk of the city centre, I’d advise you to wear comfortable shoes and just walk everywhere. It’s a great way to get to know the city too!
Get to the main events early
As I’ve been saying throughout this post, Las Fallas is an extremely popular festival so it gets incredibly busy, especially during the main events. And, as always, the secret of getting a good spot is arriving early, a couple of hours or more before the event kicks off.
This may sound a bit extreme and boring, but if you get organised with drinks and snacks you can make it fun.
The only event for which you don’t really need to arrive early is La Ofrenda as it lasts all day over the two days and people come and go.
For La Mascletà, I would recommend doing the main one in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento one day and if you’d like to experience it again, try a neighbourhood Mascletà, which will be less crowded.
Book popular restaurants early
If you’d like to visit some of the most iconic restaurants in Valencia during Las Fallas, you may need to book your table weeks in advance. However, if you haven’t been that organised, it may be worth a try even if it’s only a day in advance. You never know! Just don’t turn up and expect to get a table as you’ll only be disappointed.
Visit the Museo Fallero
If you’d like to learn more about Las Fallas Festival and see some of the ninot indultats (puppets saved from the fire) from previous years, then you can visit the Museo Fallero. This museum is open all year round, not just during the festival, and the entrance fee is 2 Euros.
Opening times are Monday to Friday 10am to 7pm and Sundays 10am to 2pm.
Where to stay in Valencia during Las Fallas Festival
I think you probably got the gist that Las Fallas is going to be busy, so make sure you book your accommodation early. And with the city roads being closed, you will want to choose your accommodation within walking distance from the city centre or near a metro station.
Here are are few highly rated options:
Luxury Accommodation in Valencia
Las Arenas Balneario Resort
Located right on the seafront, Las Arenas Balneario Resort is an elegant luxury hotel within the old 19th century spa. Renovated with elegance and comfort in mind, it has two outdoor pools and a luxurious spa.
The Westin Valencia
Set within one of Valencia’s most impressive Modernist buildings, The Westin Valencia is half a mile from the city centre. The rooms are decorated in Art Deco style and its wellness centre includes a Finnish sauna and a Turkish bath.
Caro Hotel is located in Valencia’s Old City, within a 19th century palace which combines historical features with modern comfort and minimalist design. The hotel restaurant, Sucede, has a Michelin star.
Mid-Budget Accommodation in Valencia
Silken Puerta Valencia
Located 5 minutes’ walk from Mestalla football stadium and 15 minutes’ walk from the City of Arts and Sciences, the Silken Puerta Valencia combines chic contemporary design with traditional Valencian elements.
Melia Valencia is located near Valencia’s Congress Centre, with Beniferri Metro station 400 metres away. This modern hotel offers spacious rooms with contemporary design and spectacular views over the city.
NH Valencia Las Artes
NH Valencia Las Artes is only 5 minutes’ walk from the City of Arts and Sciences. Its contemporary rooms have been simply designed and offer all the comforts you would expect from a hotel of this rating.
Budget Accommodation in Valencia
The River Hostel
Located next to Turia Gardens within the Old Town, The River Hostel is only 5 minutes’ walk to the Cathedral. This beautifully designed hostel offers both dorm and private rooms, most of which have balconies.
Quart Youth Hostel
Quart Youth Hostel is located 5 minutes’ walk from the Old Town, near the Quart Medieval Tower. The rooms are decorated in a modern and simple design with private lockers, luggage storage and free wifi.
Urban Youth Hostel
Urban Youth Hostel is a bright and quirky hostel located near the port and 20 minutes’ walk from the City of Arts and Sciences. All the rooms overlook the street and each bed comes with its own locker, plug and reading lamp.
Alternatively, you can try and book an Airbnb. Here is a £25 discount voucher for your first booking.
Planning your trip to Valencia
Do you have any questions about Las Fallas Festival in Valencia?
Let me know in the comments!
Travelling to Spain? Check out my other Spain articles
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