Las Fallas is a quirky festival that takes place in Valencia, Spain. Fallas is the name of both the festival and the colourful monuments that are part of it.
It takes place from 1st-19th March, but the main celebrations take place between 15th-19th March. This is because all of the statues (or fallas) need to be completed so that they can be judged by the 16th March. We managed to fit the trip into a weekend as there are direct flights from London to Valencia.
The only thing that I find almost as intriguing as unusual statues are quirky festivals. I love going to unusual festivals like The Lemon Festival and Nice Carnival so when I heard about Las Fallas in Spain I couldn’t wait to go.
The statues (or fallas) are structures made out of paper-mache and wood. They vary in size and each neighbourhood creates two. A smaller one for the children and a larger main fallas. All of the fallas have different themes; some are fantasy, cultural and a few are political. They are all very creative and impressive and are dotted around the city. Viewing them is free but some of the larger ones cost €1/€2 to go closer to them. These can still be viewed from the free side of the fence.
The words that first spring to mind when thinking about Las Fallas are noise and colours. People of all ages are throwing fire crackers on the floor. Some are louder than others and there were a few that really made us jump. The streets were also covered in tiny scorch marks from where fire crackers were set off.
The path of the parade is very long so even if you don’t plan to, you will end up seeing some of it. The parade includes marching bands and lots people wearing the traditional Valencia regional costumes. It is worth planning your route beforehand on the day of the parade. We managed to get stuck on the wrong side of the barriers in the main square whilst trying to get to a restaurant.
From the 17th-18th March bunches of flowers are slowly added to an impressive 15 meter high structure. It is as an offering to the patron saint of Valencia and is an impressive sight to see.
On the last night of this quirky festival the fallas are burned during La Cremà. I would love to go back and experience this part of the festival.
This is said to be based on the pagan tradition of everyone making a big bonfire out of unwanted items at the end of winter to welcome the spring.
We were really craving churros but didn’t see any. Instead we tried buñuelos, a Valencian sweet treat mostly enjoyed during Las Fallas. They are fried pumpkin fritters dipped in sugar and usually served with a thick chocolate sauce.
The weather was lovely and warm on both days with just a couple of light showers. It is best to take an umbrella with you and it can also get quite cloudy.
Origin of the festival
The festival started with an old carpenters tradition to burn the wood that was used to prop up their lights in the winter. This was a celebration of the arrival of spring on the 19th March. This scrap pile soon include rags on top of the wood which someone thought made it look like a bit like a person. Which then became more and more extravagant in time. Eventually this evolved into the beautiful temporary art work that is seen today.
City of Arts and Science
We didn’t get a chance to see much else in Valencia because we were so busy with the quirky festival and all there is to see. However zorbing outside of the City of Arts and Science this looked like too much fun to miss. This cost €3 per person and lasts roughly 10 minutes.
This playground is not just for children. It is so huge but from far enough away you can see that it is a giant character Gulliver from Gulliver’s travels. Pieces of his hair as well as some of his clothes form slides. Around him is a shoe, sword and hat to make it look like he fell to the ground. There is also a miniature model so that you can see what it looks like from above.
If you are a light sleeper (like me) then I would recommend staying outside of the city centre. The festivities and fire crackers tend to go on long into the night. We stayed in the AC Marriott hotel which was about a 20 minute walk from the centre.
This is not a relaxing city break but a trip full of noise and excitement. We went for 2 days but 3 would be perfect if you want to see a few more sites in Valencia. This quirky festival is a must see and truly unique experience.
Visited: 2 days in the middle of March 2017