Fallas Festival in Valencia is something I’d never heard of until I moved to Spain. Now that I’ve been I can hardly believe it’s not internationally famous, it’s one of the best festivals that I’ve experienced. To give you a quick synopsis, there’s pretty statues, there’s lots of fireworks, and like a lot of Spanish events, they throw in some fire for extra fun. If you want the full guide on Las Fallas please visit my other travel guide, which has everything you need to know for a great time.
The idea of Fallas is that a group of Valencians get together and build a huge, flammable statue, which you usually find in the plazas or streets that can be blocked off. There are over 800 of them, so all you need to do is wander around and you’ll run into them easily. There are many parades where the Valencians dress up in traditional dress and make offerings to their Virgin, the patron saint of Valencia. If you get bored of looking at statues they also hold Mascletás at 2pm every day. This is a firework display that is all about sound and not colour. We accidentally found our first one and boy was it loud, exciting, and slightly terrifying. In the evening the streets are turned into parties, with bars and stages with live acts and DJs.
It’s all held in Valencia, which is 3 hours drive south of Barcelona. You can get there easily by car, train, or flying. You may have heard of it as it’s also the birth place of Paella. Paella is like a religion to Valencia; you do it well or live in eternal shame. Just don’t order the patatas bravas, we tried three and they were all really weird.
Fallas starts on the Saturday, but the main event, which is the burning of the statues, happens Tuesday night. We arrived Sunday and left on Wednesday, and it was a good amount of time to attend some parties, see lots of Fallas, and then watch it all burn.
The burning of the statues starts at 10:00pm on Tuesday. These are the children’s statures, which are smaller in size and made by some seriously talented kids. You need to get to one at least fifteen minutes before it starts so you can see it all happen. The major statues are burned at 12:00am on Wednesday, with the first prize going first followed by second and third. To finish it all off the big one in front of city hall is set ablaze at 1:00am. If you want front row for these ones you need to be there at least an hour before it starts. We arrived half an hour before and were in the middle of the crowd.
It was a lot of fun, as people were playing music on their balconies. The energy was friendly and excited, with an impromptu sing-along to Zombie to get the crowd in the mood.
The burning starts with a beautiful firework display, which explodes right above you. It’s loud and colourful and the crowd starts cheering in excitement. Then the fun really starts with smaller fireworks in the statues exploding and setting the whole thing on fire. It burns very quickly and for the big ones the flames can get over twenty meters high. If you’re worried about bonfires in the middle of a city, you don’t need to be, I think the entire firefighting force of Spain is in Valencia for Fallas. They control the fires with hoses of water and spray the buildings close by to stop sparks from catching.
Ironically for the town hall statue it started pouring with rain. We got soaked and watched a huge bonfire leap into the sky.