One of the coolest things I’ve seen in Spain to date was las fallas in Valencia, Spain. I’ve tried to remember how I learned about this festival in the first place and I believe it was from a Spaniard I met two years ago while I was working as a volunteer for Pueblo Ingles. I’m so happy I remembered his advice and saw the festival. Last month, I hopped on a bus with two friends for the 4-hour drive from Madrid. From the bus station we made our way into the center where we were staying. Even though I’ve been to Valencia before it didn’t take long to notice something was different.
This looming creation is a “falla” and the festivals namesake. They range from big to small and from child-friendly to completely inappropriate.
Throughout the year, people in Valencia and the surrounding province work on creating the best falla they can. Each is judged and prizes are given out. Each one can cost a heck of a lot of money!
Another amazing sight was the street lights contest. The street Literato Azorin had some amazing lights. The surrounding Russafa neighborhood had some amazing street dance parties.
La Despertà wake up at 8am
Each morning during las fallas you can expect to be woken up with brass bands and noise on the streets. Hopefully, you got enough sleep the night before because people in the city set off firecrackers throughout the day. Also, if you want to find yourself a 1 euro beer for breakfast it’s out there waiting for you.
La Mascletà 2pm fireworks display
Each afternoon there is a giant fireworks display at Plaza del Ayuntamiento. People normally gather in the plaza to watch. My friends and I decided we would rather watch from the top of a church rather than packed in the streets.
During the festival it seems there are parades 24/7. The women and girls, or fallaras, as they are called, are everywhere. Most seemed to have this Princess Leia vs steampunk thing going on. The men wore traditional clothing also which sometimes reminded me of a pirate.
L’OFRENA FLORAL FLOWER OFFERING
A representative fallera from each group attends a ceremony in which they give flowers to be placed on a structure depicting the el virgen. Sometimes a representative comes from a long line of falleras. I was told that this is a reason some of the falleras may get a bit emotional. The ceremony is broadcast on television and we saw some teary-eyed falleras.
Els Castells fireworks displays
Inside the old turia riverbed, which is now a park, they set off an amazing fireworks display each night. Every nights performance gets increasingly crazier until…
La Nit del Foc
This fireworks display is the last and craziest. There was a light rain while we were watching, but it was worth it.
This is the night when all the hard work and money goes up in smoke…literally. Sadly, I worked Tuesday so we had to make it back to Madrid before this final night. On this night, nearly all of the fallas are burned in the streets. I think maybe one or two of the spectacular fallas are saved for a while at the Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
If you were at las fallas what was your favorite falla? Was there anything else you would recommend a visitor to see?