Las Fallas, the craziest festival in Spain?
Las Fallas feast, is an annual event taking place in Valencia between the 15th to 19th of March. The festival bases its celebrations towards Saint Joseph, or in Spanish, San Jose. San Jose is the patron saint of carpenters and the origins of Las Fallas go back to the Middle Ages. You can read more about its origins here. It is by far one of the main events that attracts many visitors, both foreign tourists as well as Spaniards from all over Spain.
The focus of the festival is the creation and destruction of ninots, which are huge Paper-Mache statues. These often take several months to construct and costs run into the thousands. The ninots usually depict satirical scenes making fun of Spanish and foreign politicians and current events. Should you ever go to experience it, this is one of the most crazy festivals you will ever witness.
Las Fallas festival commences early each day beginning with what they call ‘La Desperta’. This is a mind blowing experience at any time of the day, let alone at 8:00am in the morning. La Desperta consists of brass bands and what seems to be an endless stream of fire crackers, loud enough to set off car and burglar alarms. The alarms alone should drive you mad let alone the bands and explosions that follow. Throughout the day expect continuous loud explosive bangs together with processions and other unusual activities just until around 2:00pm. Then La Mascieta commences. Although spread across the city, La Macieta mainly takes center stage in Valencia’s main square, Plaza Ayuntamieno. This is a succession of choreographed pyrotechnics, that make you think the earth is going to crumble below you.
Along the old river bed, firework displays provide a string of spectacles in the night. On the 18th of March you will get to experience the night of fire or La Nit de Foc. The following night all the ‘ninots’ are burnt during la Crema. Ninots are carnival floats, build by the neighborhoods that take months of preparation and dedication to build. Children get to have their own version of the fiesta with Falla Infantile until around 10:00pm on that night. Later on at around 12:00am the main ‘Fallas’ will commence.
Huge crowds gather at Plaza Ayuntamiento to witness the greatest burning fire of all the event, where a series of around 25ft model ninots will have been stuffed with fireworks. The public vote to save one of the ninots from the burning. Then as the street lights are switched off, the remaining gigantic models are set on fire, burning to ashes in the most spectacular manner.
Is it for you?
Las Fallas is not a festival for the faint at heart or for those wanting to visit Valencia for some peace. Every year several people faint or suffer injuries therefore pregnant women are forbidden from attending. The huge amount of noise and earth shattering explosions the fireworks create make your head spin sending an uncontrollable adrenaline rush throughout your body. Forget about resting at anytime of the day as from 8:00am until 2:00am Valencia turns into a city of loud parties and other noisy activates.
When to book
If you intend to visit the Fallas festival be sure to book your Valencia trip well in advance. Bear in mind that you will need at least 2 days after the festival to recover from the overwhelming experience Las Fallas provides. Hotel bookings increase during this period therefore it is wise to prepare and plan everything well ahead of your visit. Check out our calendar of events here.
There is absolutely no way understanding this festival until you go and experience it first hand. The crazy atmosphere, the sounds, smells and earth shattering bombardments will touch each and every sense and expect anything to happen at anytime. It is not suggestable to go to Valencia during this period if you suffer from claustrophobia, hate noise and crowds or if you are pregnant.