From the 1st to the 19th of March, Valencia is brimming with cheer and celebration for Fallas, a traditional festival with fire, food, music and fallas (the large monuments). The origin started with the ancient custom of the carpenters of Valencia, celebrating the arrival of Spring and their patron saint: San José, by burning their scraps of work wood around the city. In the modern day, Fallas is celebrated on a wide scale by many locals and tourists in Valencia, including several hundreds of fallero monuments, fireworks, mascletàs (rhythmic explosions of gunpowder) and live bands to keep the celebrations high.
Fallas is a time to make noise, experience the atmosphere, and enjoy the culture of this amazing city. Although the festival itself only lasts 5 days (15th – 19th March), the atmosphere builds up for weeks before in the preparation and excitement around the celebration. The call for all to attend this magnificent celebration is celebrated on the last Sunday of February, with the famous Cridá at the Serrano Towers, where the Fallera Mayor elected every year, presents and invites people from all over the world to participate in this event unique and inimitable, accompanied by shots, music and fun!
The very first day (March 1) starts at 8:00 with La Despertà (the wake up call), where bands march down every street playing lively music, behind them huge crowds throwing firecrackers into the street as they march. Also, every day at 2pm in the plaza del Ayuntamiento there is the famous Mascletá, multiple firecrackers are thrown in a rhythmic order, this very popular event often involves different neighborhoods competing for the most impressive show, all ending with a ”earthquake” due to hundreds of firecrackers exploding simultaneously.
Although you can always rely on the mascletàs, there are different events on each day of the festival, so it is worth knowing what you would like to see and planning your day around the events. The night of the 15th of March is full of buzz and excitement, as the men and women who constructed the fallas sculptures go through the act of putting them up in the city for everyone to see. This event is called the Plantà, and marks the beginning of the fallas festival. On the morning of the second day (the 16th), judges will vote on the best ninot indultat, meaning the best ninot will be saved from the burning. For all the other sculptures get burnt on the final day in the honour of Saint Joseph, which marks the end of the festival.
The flower offering – L’Ofrena de flors, is a beautiful event that takes place all day during the 17th to the 18th of March. The floral offering is to the Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), and groups in traditional costume unite on the Plaza de la Virgen, bringing flowers to offer to the Virgin so that she can compose her beautiful mantle. It is a beautiful ceremony that turns the city square into a spectacular floral garden, which is celebrated with live music that plays throughout the event.
On the nights of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th there are firework displays in the old riverbed in Valencia, each night is progressively more magnificent, and then on the last night (the 19th), La Nit del Foc takes place (the Night of Fire). Valencian’s do not skimp out when it comes to fireworks, so you definitely won’t want to miss the impressive display of colour and shapes in the night sky.
There are tons of other events like discomobiles and concerts, every year the festival has loads of new ones, so be sure to check the calendar for the year you’re going. However, every fiesta ends with La Cremà (the fire), the culmination of all the celebrations when the fallas are burned, one of the most exciting moments of the whole fiesta. People dance in the streets, there are markets and stalls selling typical fallas foods such as the famous churros, buñuelos, porras and much more. Absolutely a party not to be missed!