Everything you need to know about Las Fallas in Valencia

Everything you need to know about Las Fallas in Valencia

Wanna know what’s the most fun experience to have in Valencia? It’s Las Fallas, an important festival that happens every spring. Las Fallas is an entire month of minimal sleep, fireworks, fiestas, amazing giant puppets, incredible bonfires, and lots of food, of course. Sound like your type of party? Then here’s the ABC to help you navigate this important Valencian festival like a local.

statue and fountains in Valencia

Las Fallas is newly minted in the UNESCO listing of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,’ and if those big guns think it’s cool, why wouldn’t you, too? Las Fallas celebrates the arrival of spring and is a religious holiday during which Valencians commemorate Saint José (the patron saint of carpentry) on March 19. Even though the key week of celebrations happens from March 15 to 19, Valencians know how to turn up the dial on their fiestas by extending the fun into a month-long celebration.

fireworks going off in Valencia at night

More fireworks, more gunpowder, more noise… everyday! Las Fallas is an event not for the faint of heart, as everywhere you go this month, young and old will be playing with firecrackers and “pop-pops” in the streets. From the first of March until the 19th, daily fireworks displays (known as ‘La Mascletà’) are fired off at 2pm at the Town Hall Square (Plaza del Ayuntamiento). Nightly on March 15-17, there will also be fireworks down by the old riverbanks-turned-Turía Gardens. If you can’t keep up, just make sure you don’t miss ‘La Nit del Foc’ on the festive night of March 18 for the grand finale fireworks spectacular! For best views, we recommend heading as close as you can to the bridges of Pont de les Flors and Pont de I’Exposició.

massive puppets for the Las Fallas festival in Valencia

One of our favourites at Las Fallas are the unveiling of these towering cartoon-like installations (also called fallas) with their accompanying puppets (called ninots) that dot every barrio in Valencia. Satirical, comical, political, or even romantic, you can expect differently themed installations every year. Each neighbourhood association will commission two of these firecracker-filled papier-mâché and wood creations to be built every year to represent them (a giant one for the adults, small for the kiddies). These creations don’t last long as they get burnt to a crisp on the last festive night except one — but more on that later.

puppets in the streets during Las Fallas in Valencia

#localsknow La Plantà happens on March 15 when all the fallas installations have to be completed by the end of day in order to qualify for the big Las Fallas judging contest. That’s when we recommend you put on those comfortable sneakers, have your camera charged up, and start exploring our city to hunt for these stupendous creations. To see some of the more elaborate ones, we recommend you visit the barrios of Ruzafa, El Carmen, and Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

street food being cooked outside in Valencia

Nothing says party like a street food fiesta, and the fun continues with street food fairs in abundance. No dainty tastings here, but tapas, giant paellas, delectable jamón, stacks of mouth-watering sausages and ribs, or even seafood on the biggest grills you’ll ever see. The aroma of chargrilled goodness can usually be smelled from even far away. So grab a cerveza, flash our friendly street vendors a smile and an “Hola!”, and order away like a local.

outdoor hot chocolate stand in Valencia

For those with a sweet tooth, follow the fried foods scent and you’ll find many of these street corner mobile kiosks selling goodies such as the popular Spanish churros and buñuelos, a Valencian sweet treat mostly enjoyed during Las Fallas.

close-up of fried fritter in Valencia during Las Fallas

Buñuelos are golden-brown fried pumpkin fritters served with a heavy sprinkle of sugar on top. Or go for the gold and enjoy them with a cuppa thick hot chocolate for dipping. Why not? You’re on a holiday diet after all! You can also find them at one of our favourite local cafés, Horchatería El Collado.

light display during the Las Fallas festival in Valencia

Fancy a light show extravaganza? Come around to the barrio of Ruzafa and hang around the streets of Calle Sueca and Puerto Rico, and you’ll probably find the street food fair and an elaborate light show just like this one that stretches for kilometres (coordinated with music, too). There are plenty of dining and bar options around here, such as Pepe’s, where #localsknow Alberto’s mojitos will keep you jolly the whole night.

children dressed up in traditional costumes for Las Fallas in Valencia

Marvel at these traditional Valencian regional costumes worn by the falleras (female) and falleros (male) during special occasions such as this. Some of these intricately hand-sewn silk and lace costumes are known to cost thousands of euros.

the procession in one of the squares of Valencia during the Las Fallas festival

Get to Plaza de la Virgen early on March 17 and 18 for a prime spot to witness the colourful processions and L’Ofrena de flors, when falleros and falleras make flower offerings to the Virgin Mary. Watch the flowers being tossed up to skilled little helpers who will insert them into the 14-metre-high Virgin Mary wooden statue. It’s an eye-catching sight you don’t want to miss.

burning of the Las Fallas puppets during the festival in Valencia

“Burn baby burn…Disco inferno….” Just the right tune was streaming from the headphones of the amigo next to me as we watched the fallas puppets go up in flames at last year’s ‘La Cremà’ — the burning that happens on the final night (March 19). All of the neighbourhood creations will typically be burnt on-site close to midnight, while the grand finale happens an hour later at Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the city’s main falla is burned last. Why the build and burn? Legend has it that it mirrors the Pagan tradition in which people would stack their old unwanted belongings out in the streets to burn away their excess from winter to welcome spring. It was believed a carpenter hung a lamp on top of a pole and over time even decorated it with clothing. Over generations this evolved into these elaborate installations that we get to enjoy today.

puppets on display at the Las Fallas museum in Valencia

If you want to experience more, you can relieve it all at Museo Fallero, which houses the winning ninot that’s spared from the yearly La Cremà burning. You’ll find an interesting display dating from the 1940s to today, and countless photos and history for you to learn all about this festival that is the pride of Valencia.

Want a sneak peek of what to expect at Las Fallas 2018? Here are a few of the highlights from the last festivities with Valencia Urban Adventures!

About author

Lenny Chen

Local Host @ Valencia Urban Adventures. Citizen of the world. Passionate traveller. Lover of Street Art. The biggest foodie.

Comments
  • C. G.#1

    January 24, 2018

    This was nice

    Reply
  • Peter#3

    February 23, 2018

    So what’s the best way to go from Barcelona? Any ideas or tips?

    Cheers,

    Reply
  • Nuno#5

    April 12, 2018

    Hello.

    I’m planning to visit Valencia next year in March. Luckly i´ve discovered Fallas, I never heard about it. I just have one question. The festival begins at 15 march? Is there anything in the streets before it (excluding fireworks)?

    TY

    Reply
    • Valencia Urban Adventures#6

      April 14, 2018

      Hola Nuno, thanks for reading our blog, hope you enjoyed it. The main week of Las Fallas is from March 15 – 19. Before that week, there are a few things happening to build up the excitement to this biggest celebration. From first week of March (until March 14/15) at our Science Museum by the City of Arts & Sciences district, there will be a huge Ninots exhibition letting you preview what this year’s big Fallas installations are going to be in the streets. You can see 1 ‘puppet’ (ninot) from each new installation at this exhibition (over 700 of them) & you even get to vote for the winning ninot that will be kept in the Fallas Museum (as written in the blog). Typically by that first two weeks too, you can find some street stalls already set up to sell sweet treats as such the pumpkin fritters. There is the daily Mascletà (huge firecrackers show lasting for about 5-8mins) that happens at 2pm at Plaza del Ayuntamiento (this starts from the last week of February until March 19th). In past years, even from the 2nd weekend of March, lightshow extravaganzas in the Ruzafa neighbourhood would have started nightly. More importantly, you can start to see big fallas installations being slowly constructed in the streets in the week leading up in the 15th-16th because that’s the dates they have to be completed and judged for this festival. Our city certainly has a party atmosphere even before the main week. My best advice for you is to book now for accommodation and flights should you like to join us for las fallas (even if you plan to arrive before the main week). We hope to see you in Valencia next March, and perhaps take you on one of our tours! Hope this helps.

      Reply
  • carissa#7

    August 12, 2018

    why is this celebration so strange

    Reply
    • Valencia Urban Adventures#8

      August 17, 2018

      Good question! But sometimes the “strange” events are the fun ones, don’t you think? For us in Valencia, the word Unusual is probably how we would describe Las Fallas, this biggest & most important celebrations in Valencia.

      Maybe you find it strange on why we celebrate by burning away these hundreds of amazingly built papier-maché sculptures and why we love the daily firecracker shows? Well, in a nutshell, Las Fallas celebrates Patron Saint of Carpenters, Saint Joseph and that’s on the festival’s last day, 19 September. Some historians will tell you centuries ago, local carpenters would gather their unwanted belongings in the streets in a pile to burn them, like burning away your excess from winter to welcome the spring equinox. Among the things would be the wooden poles & their hanging oil lamps that the carpenters no longer need as the days get longer & warmer. As centuries go by, throw in a bit of creativity and fun tradition, with someone starting to dress these wooden structures like a person, adding clothes & things…and that’s how a celebration was born out of the burning of these crazy sculptures!

      To Valencians, Las Fallas is all about these incredible towering sculptures, exciting smell of gun powder, heart-thumping noise from firecracker & fireworks, music, paellas with our friends, a party atmosphere & street food everywhere, how can that not be fun?! We certainly think it’s a once-in-a-time experience for our visitors & we hope you can join us one day. Let us show you around!

      Reply

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