Fallas In Valencia Spain Experience

Fallas ninot woman sitting on top of man and dog looking Fallas Valencia

Fallas in Valencia is spectacular, and the biggest party of the season, in fact, it’s the biggest party of the year. The pandemic meant skipping the celebrations two years in a row, and there was a mini-one last September, a very subdued one at that.

Now, the folks are ready to expand all that pent-up energy and party like there’s no tomorrow. This post will include some images from past Fallas as the city gets ready to unveil the ones for this year. I will also attempt to explain all about this event.

hall room with displays of ninots
The ninots are exhibited at the City of Arts and Sciences.

Fallas in Valencia Spain Experience: Q and A

What is Fallas all about?

The Fallas is to celebrate Saint Joseph. You know, the one that was married to Mary and was, therefore, the legal father of Jesus. A saint indeed if you ask me! A lot of towns in the Valencia province celebrate, but the Valencia city Fallas is the biggest and definitely the loudest.

Las Fallas was designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016. A lot of locals leave the city to avoid the crowds and noise. I think after a lifetime of the shenanigans, they deserve the rest.

At the same time though, a ton of tourists come from all over the world to experience Fallas. The numbers keep increasing yearly with the last one receiving over a million visitors from all over the world. I think everyone should experience Las Fallas at least once in their lifetime. At this point, it has nothing to do with religion. It’s all about mingling and partying.

Fallas in Valencia ninot mermaid with flute
Visiting the Science museum is a great way to see the collection of art pieces from across the city.

How does Fallas (monuments) happen?

Each neighborhood in Valencia has a Casal Fallera, an organization that is active year-round and whose principal duty is to raise money to build their Fallas ninot contributions ( usually 1 adult and 1 kiddie monument in the bigger neighborhoods).

The efforts are never-ending as they start working on the next Fallas as soon as the current one ends. All of the neighborhoods compete and hope to be voted “Best in Show”. For the most part, one of the “richer” neighborhoods usually wins since they have more money raised. I understand some of these Fallas can cost over €180,000 ($220,000). That’s a lot of money that could be put to better use in my opinion, but that’s just the way it is.

man dying to pee with a small boy already using the urinal in Fallas in Valencia post.
Looking back now, l should have voted for this one for the kids. It cracks me up!

When does Valencia Las Fallas take place?:

The Fallas festivities occur over a 3-week period, ending on the 19th of March yearly. Most of the excitement occurs during the last week when the Fallas are moved from the Museum of Sciences (for display and voting purposes) to the neighborhoods.

It’s almost impossible to see them all of course, as they number over 700. This is why it’s a good idea to see them under one roof prior. It is not unusual to walk miles daily in order to be able to see some of the magnificent displays. The Fallas can be of any theme, and political satire is usually popular. Current shows and movie-themed ones are also common to see.

What is used to build the Fallas monuments?

A lot of styrofoam, soft cork, firecracker-filled cardboard, paper-mache, and whatever else works from what some guy was trying to explain to us. I’m always amazed at how they can manipulate these things to make such statement works of art. No wonder it can take a full year to accomplish.

The truly lucky ones are the people in the flats above the plaza, but l can just imagine how noisy it is being that up close and personal.
Fallas in Valencia Quentin Tarantino ninot in director's chair
Tell me this doesn’t look exactly like him. I had a good laugh upon seeing it. Such talent.

Is Valencia Fallas noisy during Fallas?

Yes! Yes! and Yes!!!! Fallas comes with a whole lot of noise. La Despierta, which means wake up, begins daily at 8 AM ( I swear l have heard them at 6! ) during the last week. Brass bands roam the neighborhoods playing very loud music and they are followed by Falleras, who are dressed up in fine traditional outfits and they are, in turn, followed by merrymakers, with a lot of them throwing very noisy firecrackers.

For the whole time during Fallas, in addition to the daily fireworks show at 2 PM ( The Mascleta) at the city plaza, there are morning fireworks, noon, afternoon, mid-afternoon, early evening, late evening, midnight :-).

You name the time, and there are fireworks going off it seems, in addition to the petards and others loud making bombs that the kids set off. Barking dogs add to the mix because they’re terrified. Our dogs don’t bark much anymore, but they get very anxious.

After Malta and their crazy fireworks for pretty much any occasion, including their Feast of St. Joseph, it’s not as big a deal to them, thank god. Every day, I’m thankful that we are not right in the center of the old city, it would have been too close for comfort. Our beagle is a howler.

Street paella making is about to begin in a barrio. It is usually cooked by the casa de Fallera of the neighborhood.

What else happens during the Valencia Fallas? :

Apart from the Mascleta, and the Despierta, there are:

  • Offerings of flowers to the Virgin Mary (takes place over 3 days)
  • Cavalcada del Foc ( grand parade on the last day)
  • Night of Fire (Insane fireworks at the old river bed, Turia over 4 nights. We were able to see the last one right from our balcony since it was the grandest of all)
  • Street Disco. Yep… DJ’s play at strategic points throughout the city
  • Paella cooking contests (this is the birthplace of paella after all 🙂 )
  • La Crema (The Burning). The culmination of a year’s work gets reduced to ashes. All the Fallas are destroyed by burning them to the ground. Children’s first, the bigger ones. The last one to burn is at the center which is done around 2 AM. No, we will not be attending that. Only the Falla voted “Best” is saved from this fate. Being the last hurray, you can just imagine how insane it is.
What’s fallas without Marilyn? This wasn’t a great job in my humble opinion.

Thoughts on the Fallas Festivities:

Something that amazes me about the Fallas and pretty much events in Spain is that, despite the insane number of people on the streets at all times of the day and night, there is a minimal police presence. The ones there are usually for traffic control.

You are allowed to drink alcohol openly, yet no one is staggering around drunk that l see. No fights, just people having a good time. Could this happen in the States? Nope! It could not. We don’t even think twice about stepping out at any hour of the night.

Getting crushed by thousands of people while watching the fireworks and my thought was not of safety, it was wondering what would happen if l had to pee! :-), would l have enough time to make it to the nearest portapotty? It’s a terrific and freeing feeling.

I know all countries have their issues, but safety for me is a big concern and it’s nice to be able to live your life free of that drama (sensibly of course!). I remember feeling the same in Seville when we lived there. The sense of freedom is exhilarating.

Imagine being a part of this! It is an insane crush of people, and l wonder what it will be like post covid.

The fire department definitely has its hands full when La Crema happens. The heat is quite intense and often, they will douse surrounding buildings so they don’t catch fire. The times of the burning are scheduled, so the trucks can get from place to place to assure safety. The good thing is that the Fallas, which also means torches in Spanish, burn very quickly.

Stalls with vendors selling everything from souvenirs to artisanal products.

It’s great walking off the main streets for a bit of relative quiet every so often. The hawkers were selling everything from churros to Jamon to chestnuts, and the famous horchata

fallas ninot clueless tourist effigy
The clueless tourist. Haha!
Putin ninot naked, holding a hose.

I am so glad we’re no longer the butt of jokes. There was one of Biden that was great! but l forgot to take a picture.

Las Fallas experience in valencia couple in traditional outfits, colorful and man in vest.
Definitely, a happy time for locals as they get to dust off their outfits and parade in style.

Some of these gowns can cost thousands and are usually handed down from generation to generation.

Should you visit Valencia during Fallas?

Yes! It is a wonderful city that gets to go crazy for 3 weeks. Everyone should visit and experience Fallas at least once in their lifetime. The children will definitely love it. The younger generation will enjoy being able to drink and party in the open till the wee hours.

The older people (like us!) enjoy people watching while sipping a beverage. Everyone will enjoy the Mascleta, the Fallas, and the Ninots (big dolls). The best part is that the major streets are closed off and the city becomes even more pedestrian-friendly. It’s fun walking from one barrio to the other checking out the various Fallas. A very enjoyable experience.

black female with gown and high slit ninot
I liked this one. I was trying to figure out who she might be.

Tips on experiencing Valencia Fallas as a tourist:

  • Reserve your room or Valencia hotel very early on. It’s almost impossible to find accommodation close to the Fallas.
  • Wear your comfortable shoes. There is a whole lot of walking to be done.
  • Dress comfortably. This is not the time for high heels and mini-skirts. It is also still kind of cold and windy at this time of year.
  • Bring your earplugs :-). You will need it.
  • Download the Fallas event app which is available in the Apple store and on GooglePlay so you can plan your days accordingly.
  • Use public transport to get around. The metro is crowded, but still better overall. Some of the bus routes are changed so beware. Make sure to ask the bus driver about your stop.
  • Step away from the crowds. Some of the prettiest Fallas can be found on relatively “lonely” streets.
  • Don’t be afraid to get lost. Valencia is safe and you will eventually find your way 🙂 .
  • Eat! Try paella or the local favorite, churros con chocolate. There are long waits at restaurants, so beat the crowd by trying a place on the side streets.
  • Consider doing a tour if you want a closer look or go inside the big Fallas displays as the general public can only get so close.
  • Drink responsibly. Period.
ninots, mother holding baby and fottballer next to them.
Fallas is Fun for the whole family. You know football had to be represented :-).

Conclusion of Las Fallas in Valencia:

Las Fallas is an absolutely wonderful experience. At least once. I have friends that seem to look forward to it yearly, and l have other friends who definitely make it a point to leave the city as soon as the festivities start. I say live it once and then decide. Las Fallas is just one of the many things to experience in Valencia and a possible reason why a lot of ex-pats now call it home. Valencia and las Fallas await.

14 thoughts on “Fallas In Valencia Spain Experience”

  1. My goodness, why have I never heard of this festival before! I absolutely love the floats and the reason for them. It seems that this is a great reason to visit Valencia in March!

    • Most definitely a reason to visit. It’s awesome to watch. It’s insane how much work they put in for the floats and then to see them burn?… but it’s tradition :-).

  2. I have never heard of this festival but it does sound like something to do once! And I love that about Europe – we went to NYE in Munich and everybody drank but they also behaved. Plus, all ages are celebrating together which we don’t see as much in North America, unfortunately.

    • It is totally worth doing at least once. Isn’t it amazing the difference in behavior between here and there? I also love seeing that all ages can enjoy and participate, or just watch, and do so safely. I do wish it were the same in the states. Everyone would get out more. Your Munich NYE sounds like it was a blast.

  3. Oh my gosh! I am so intrigued. I have never heard of this, although I did spend a few glorious days in Valencia. Now I need to go back for this. Sounds incredible, colorful and the paella! It’s unusual that I run across a blog post with something so fresh and new to me. thanks for that!

    • Haha! Yes, you do have to experience this when you come this way again. It is fantastic. Even though the second week has just started, it’s a real bitch for buses as they can’t even get close as it’s started to get crowded. I’m so glad you found something fresh on here. I appreciate your reading it :-).

    • There are so many festivals all around Spain, it would be hard to catch them all…haha! Valencia really is an amazing place though :-).

  4. I always enjoy reading about the Fallas and it’s something I hope I’ll be able to enjoy one day. I am not sure I’d love to go through this experience yearly, or even for the whole three weeks, but it certainly looks like one of those things that you must try.

    • It was fun the first few years, but now it’s just grating :-). It is definitely worth it once, and even more if you are pet-free. As you know, we have beagles, and once they start howling, well…there is just no end to it, so it curtails what we can do, and how much we can enjoy the festivities. Hopefully, you will get to experience it one of these days :-).

  5. Hi Kemkem, thank you SO much for this very thorough, interesting, and very entertaining explanation about Fallas. I lived briefly in Valencia during the pandemic, so I didn’t have the chance to experience Fallas, and to be honest, had just assumed it was just a crowded, loud event that I would never be interested in. But now, thanks to you, I will actually give it a chance. I’ve really learned a lot through your post and it was very helpful to understand the history and traditions and know that it’s not just about setting things on fire! Many thanks!

    • Thanks for reading Carla. Fallas has indeed grown to be a loud, insanely long party (mostly for tourists) but it has a deep-rooted cultural meaning for the citizens. Watching the offering of flowers to the Virgin is emotional for instance. It’s great to watch. I hope you get a chance to experience part of that magic when you experience Fallas. Today is the final day, and we are bracing ourselves for a loud night as the firemen run from one neighborhood to the next putting out the fires. Dogs and sirens! :-).

    • Hi, I’m sorry that l was just notified of this comment. No, l have not. It is not something one can sign up for but a long tradition that is deeply rooted. I believe a lifetime commitment and an honor for Spaniards.


Leave a Comment