Las Fallas is a local festival celebrated every year at the beginning of March in Valencia, Spain. It attracts a huge number of visitors every year. During this two-week period Valencia transforms into a city in flames. I can assure you this is an amazing and unforgettable event and that you have never seen anything like this before!
A bit of history… How did it all start?
The origins of Fallas are dated back to the Middle Ages when carpenters used to light a bonfire on 19th March, St Joseph Day. However, the other theory suggests that the tradition of lighting bonfires in honour of the saints arose from pagan customs which the Church then adopted.
What are ‘Las Fallas’?
‘Las Fallas’ are massive, paper made figures that can be found on the streets all over the city. People from different districts compete for the status of best ‘falla’ and locals are encouraged to vote for it.
The figures portrait a caricature of a politicians, movie stars or sports idols, or is simply artistic. Some ‘fallas’ are grotesque while others playful and charming. Every evening number of tourists and locals walk around the city and admire those gigantic, figures.
The festival itself…Two weeks of fun, noise, fireworks and fiesta!
The festival starts with the Mascleta (an explosion of firecrackers) in front of the City Hall. Do not worry if you cannot come to see the first display. The Mascleta takes place every day at 2 pm so there is no way you could miss it. Be prepared for unbelievably loud experience that will stay with you for at least couple of hours.
The biggest and most spectacular event during Las Fallas is the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados (a floral offering to our Lady of the Forsaken). There is an enormous multi-coloured parade with the members of the Fallas wearing their traditional costumes and carrying bunches of flowers as an offering to their Patron Saint. In the centre of the Plaza de la Virgen (“The Virgin’s Square”), the Virgin Mary’s body is constructed with the flowers.
The heading may look appealing but it has nothing to do with dairy products! In Spanish, the verb “cremar” actually means to burn, or “cremate”.
At midnight on the last day of the festival all figures are burnt down. I know it is hard to believe that those magnificent and beautiful sculptures are destroyed. However, each year, the best voted ‘Falla’ is preserved in the Fallero Museum.
The whole process of burning down a 10-metre high sculpture sounds rather dangerous, considering it happens on the street just metres away from a block of flats. There are well trained people in charge of it who take care of the public safety.
It is still time to book your travel and a hotel but be quick as this is really popular festival! Enjoy!