Our first few months living in the seaside town of Denia was a great introduction to Spanish life. However we were heading into the peak of winter and needed place to base ourselves from while organizing Spanish residents cards. We thought staying in a city would be a good option as it would provide more options for exploring while it was wet and cold and as we waited out the process of getting resident cards. We decided Valencia was a good option, being the closest city and only an hour away from Denia.
We arrived in Valencia and soon realized our stay happened to coincide with Valencia’s annual Fallas festival. Before arriving in Valencia we had no idea the Fallas Festival even existed. We were in for a great spectacle and eventful few weeks of Fallas festivities.
Las Fallas Festival
Each neighborhood in the city has a small office (Casal faller) where people work throughout the year fundraising, designing and building (mostly outsourced) giant displays (falla) made from wood, papier-mâché, wax, and polystyrene. The fallas are caricatures representative of local, provincial, national and even international problems and themes and are often satirical.
Everyday of the fallas festival has a detailed program of events and activities, it really is a well planned and organized event.
For 2 weeks the city is rattled with the sounds of small explosions as children set off fire crackers all over the city streets. The loud sounds reverberate off city buildings causing sudden shock for those unprepared.
Huge lighting displays are erected throughout Valencia, churro stands are setup on almost every corner. People in traditional dress parade around the streets accompanied by marching bands.
Everyday for two weeks at 2pm and midnight in Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Valencia’s main square) tens of thousands of people turn up to watch impressive firework displays. Local dignitaries, sporting personalities, politicians, the Spanish Royal Family… are invited to watch from the balcony of the town hall.
For me it really was all about the displays. You would not believe the amount of effort and creativity that has gone into the making of the fallas. The amount of detail, the size, the colors, the perfection that has gone into them was amazing to see.
This 6 story high lion was the main Fallas Statue located in the Plaza Ayuntamiento, Valencia.
La Cremà (The Burning)
Believe it or not, on the last night at approximately 1am, after the main fireworks display, every Fallas display throughout the city is burnt to the ground in what starts out as a series of firecrackers and fireworks. It really is a sight to see as we wandered around the city seeing it on fire.
The fallas festival was fantastic to experience and is definitely an event worth travelling to. I can highly recommend being in the city during the final week of festivities when the city is abuzz with activity… The lights at night, the falla displays, the abundance of churros, the sounds of fireworks going off all day, communities gathering together, eating & drinking under large marquees in the middle of the road, tens of thousands of people packing into the main square each day. The festival atmosphere throughout the city is a unique feeling and is great to see people getting together as a community is such a large and spectacular way.
Have you been to Las Fallas Festival in Valencia? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.