The fantastic Las Fallas de Valencia celebrations begin officially on the 1st of March with various cultural and pyrotechnic displays around the town,
but the main events are from the 14th to the 19th of March 2021, when gigantic mannequins take over the city streets for four full days to mark the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring.
The festival Las Fallas de Valencia is the combined result of hard work and commitment by a group of artisan craft workers, Los Falleros. The Los Falleros dedicate twelve full months of concentrated labour to produce the spectacular giant-sized figures, ninots, which are the trademark of the fiesta.
The enormous, caricature featured, doll-like figures can measure anywhere up to a staggering ten metres or more in height. As with most carnival-style celebrations, the artists don’t miss the chance of poking fun at well-known personalities or making innuendos about topical political subjects.
By Keith Ellwood
Dates: from March 1st-19th, 2021 | Sunday – Thursday.
Time: 2:00pm (every day).
Place: Government Plaza (plaza del ayuntamiento).
From the 15th of March until the 19th it’s time to get your earplugs ready because when Valencia decides winter is over, well, winter is over and there’ll be no more hibernating.
To make sure the town is wide awake and ready for the upcoming festival, a Mascletaor daytime firecracker display, worthy of any Chinese new year party, occurs every afternoon at two o’clock on the dot.
The Mascleta is an important opportunity for the pyrotechnic to exhibit his skill. In preparation for the daily display, the plaza in front of the city’s council offices is rigged with a complex cobweb of strings on which the firecrackers are hung.
With clockwork precision, the explosions from the firecrackers are timed to give off a rhythmic noise which ends in an ear-splitting crescendo.
Do the big bangs end there? Not a chance. Valencia still has a lot more gunpowder in its pockets:
Place: Alameda (March 16th-18th), Government Plaza (March 19th).
When there’s a fiesta going on, Valencia doesn’t believe in sleeping. For four consecutive evenings, the 16th to 19th of March, the skies above the city are illuminated by extraordinary firework displays. The big night of fire is on March 18th.
You’ll need to be a night owl to see them as they don’t start until around one thirty in the morning, but it’s worth it when the thousands of kilos of fireworks converge in a display equal to Sydney, Australia’s new year’s eve celebration.
The day of the 15th of March begins with a big bang. A chupinazo or battery of firecrackers signals the official start of the main Las Fallas de Valencia celebrations.
To be eligible for the ninots competition and to be included in the judging to have their figure saved from the bonfire, the Los Falleros must have their ninot complete, intact and on show in its designated place before the chupinazo sounds.
Sounds simple enough, but la planta or setting down is a complicated procedure which takes place overnight and involves some major heavy lifting gear.
The figures, piled one on one, sky high, are an awe-inspiring monumental display of colorful artwork and unimaginable equilibrium. It’s incredible, but a little sad. In reality, la planta is the preparation of the funeral pyre for the figures as the sole purpose of their construction is their cremation in the final spectacular of the fiesta.
As well as being renowned for the incredible amount of fireworks which are used during the festivities, the fiesta de Las Fallas is famous for its three amazing and completely distinct parades.
Cabalgata de Ninots
Date: March 7th, 2021 | Saturday.
Place: Glorieta, Paz, San Vicente, plaza del Ayuntamiento, Marqués de Sotelo y Xàtiva.
In true carnival-style, Valencia takes to the streets in one of Spain’s most colorful processions, the Cabalgata de Ninots. While the Los Falleros favor ornate costumes which are historical replicas of past fashion in Valencia, the rest of the participants ire on the side of diversion and you’ll likely to notice that basically, anything goes.
Floats, troupes of dancers and smaller, portable ninots follow a designated route through the city accompanied by marching bands and rousing cheers from the crowds lining the pavements.
Flowers for the Virgin
Date: March 17th, 2021 | Tuesday.
Place: Near Government Plaza.
This a real ladies day. Female Falleras, from all over Valencia and the outlying areas, pay a floral tribute to Valencia’s patron saint the Virgin de los Desamparados or Virgin of the Homeless.
Dressed in their finest costumes, the Falleras carrying bouquets, parade through the streets to a plaza where a framework carrying an image of the Virgin has been installed.
Men dangle precariously from the wooden structure, which towers around twenty metres high, waiting for the flowers to be thrown up to them so they can place them in a designated pattern to create a complex and stunning work of art.
Parade of Fire
Date: March 19th, 2021 | Thursday.
Place: from Russafa to Puerta del Mar streets, passing through Colón street.
You may be starting to notice that Valencia never seems to get its fill of fireworks. They really are an integral part of the Las Fallas celebration. Preceding the demise of the ninots by fire, is the mega extravaganza of sound and color the Parade of Fire.
Once again Valencia takes to the streets to scare off the last vestiges of winter with an explosive and rumbustious exhibition. Sparks and flames fly everywhere from floats decorated with everything from fire breathing dragons to smoking turtles interspersed with numerous dance troupes carrying burning catherine wheels on long poles.
Date: March 19th, 2021 | Thursday.
Time: from 10:00pm to 2:00am.
Place: Government Plaza.
Even the best and lengthiest of parties must come to an end and the Las Fallas celebration does it in true style. It’s time to stand well back as torches light the pyres of the ninots.
Flames engulf the figures as they turn into billowing bonfires emitting smoke and heat until there’s nothing remaining but charred frameworks and piles of ashes.
By Emilio Garcia
So Why Las Fallas de Valencia?
If you love fireworks and bonfires, you won’t want to miss the fiesta Las Fallas de Valencia. It’s an amazingly explosive and colorful celebration of tradition and religion.
Completely unique, its enormous trademark mannequins, the outstanding creations of Valencian craft workers, will leave you wondering if you really did see them or just imagined them as they disappear consumed by flames. Book your festival now
If you’re in Valencia for the commencement of the festivities, don’t plan on taking a quiet afternoon siesta around the hour of two o’clock because for nineteen days the afternoon peace is shattered by noisy fireworks on a daily basis.
2# The party goes on!
If you plan on seeing the whole ceremony of the Ofreciendo de Flores, you may well need to take a chair with you as it continues for over twelve hours and restarts again the next day.
3# Bring your camera
Make sure you take a camera with you to get some shots of the ninots. If not they’ll just be a distant memory, as all but one will go up in flames.
4# Explore Valencia
Don’t worry. Even when the fires have gone out and the fireworks have finally fallen silent, there’s still plenty to keep you occupied in Valencia.
What to Do?
Valencia, on the east coast of Spain, is a city which really has it all. Thoroughly modern, but with an extensive historic quarter at its core and on its coastal side, is one of the busiest ports in Europe.
Proud of its cultural heritage, Valencia is packed with museums and places to visit, arty suburbs to explore and beautiful park areas to investigate plus five amazing beaches.
City of Arts and Science
Spend a day discovering the fantastic installations of the City of Arts and Science. This architecturally renowned complex contains the largest open air aquarium in Europe, a planetarium, cinema, art galleries, nature walks, an interactive science museum and more, much more.
Albufera Natural Park
For a breath of country air head out to El Palmar and the Albufera Natural Park for a boat ride and some bird spotting. Watch the local fisherman haul their catches from the freshwater lagoon then take a seat in one of the restaurants to try the freshly caught crabs.
It would be impossible to visit Valencia and leave without experiencing the power and magic of a live flamenco performance. Take a table at La Buleria and nibble on tapas while the dancers and musicians exhibit their passion for their art.
Ultra-modern and with a definite touch of class, the Hotel Valencia Center has outdoor terraces, a rooftop swimming pool and glass walled gym which gives you fantastic views of the city while you work out.
Great for couples or anyone who doesn’t mind spending just a little more to get the level of comfort they need.
If you want the perfect combination stay of city and beach in Valencia, you won’t go far wrong if you choose El Globo.
Just a two minute walk from the nearest beach it’s also only ten minutes away from the city centre. Ideal if you’re travelling with family or friends.
Where to eat?
Try from varieties of delights!
It’s difficult to think of Valencia without its iconic trademark dish, paella, coming to mind, but there are lots more gastronomical delights on offer in the city other than seafood rice.
For a taste of the real Valencia, try Taberna El Olivo, who serve an amazing selection of traditional tapas. Try the plate of Iberian cold cuts, garlicky salami-style sausages (Every time I’m in Spain I bulk up on these sausages), with a glass of red wine under the olive tree on the terrace.
Sourcing all the ingredients for their food from the massive market right next door, Blanqueries, serve dishes typical to Valencia but with some serious culinary flair which has earned them a mention in Michelin guides. Outstanding on the meat front are the dishes of suckling pig with apple sauce or shoulder of lamb with ragout.
Try the traditional food!
If you do want to indulge in a traditional paella, there’s really only one place to do it and that’s at La Pepica, Valencia’s well known paella restaurant. They serve a staggering eight variations of the dish which range from paella with lobster to rice with squid ink plus lots of fresh local fish as well.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you won’t be going hungry in Valencia. The city has some amazing vegetarian restaurants. At Las Tastaolletes go for marinated tofu with vegetables, a mushroom lasagne or a soja based moussaka. For a major vegan blow out try the Loving Hut who provide a full buffet of all vegan food such as tofu curries, burgers and vegan sushi.
How to Get There?
Valencia is served by Valencia Airport in Manises which is approximately eight kilometres from the city centre. There are two underground rail services, MetroValencia, from the airport into the centre. Depending on where you’ve chosen to stay, you will need to take either line 3 or line 5, both of which are around a half hour journey and cost about five euros.
There are also two regular bus services from the airport into the city. The Aerobus shuttle service takes twenty minutes and terminates on Avenida del Cid. The Bus 150 service is a little slower and takes around forty five minutes to reach the central bus depot on Avenida Menendez Pidal for transferring to services for other parts of the city.
If you’re travelling in to watch the Las Fallas festivities from Alicante there is a regular train service which runs from the Alicante terminal to Estacio Nord which is Valencia’s main train station. Estacio Nord is right in the heart of the old town and within easy walking distance of all the main locations for the fiesta.
If you’re staying in any of the resort areas such as Benidorm, you’ll need to take a bus into Alicante first and then travel on from there.
From Madrid to Valencia in train is an approximately two and a half hour journey and from Barcelona three and a half.
MetroValencia is a combination of rail services, light railway, tram and metro, which serves not only the inner city but all of the outer lying suburbs as well.
Bus services are available from Alicante to Valencia. They take on average two and a half or three hours for the journey and will deposit you at Valencia’s central bus depot on Avenida Menendez Pidal which is close to all the Las Fallas events.
Buses do run from Madrid and Barcelona to Valencia. From Barcelona it can take anywhere up to five hours to reach Valencia and from Madrid around four hours.
Normal routes and services for inner city buses can be affected by the Las Fallas fiestas as many of the city roads are closed for parades and various other events.
The Valencia Tourist Card is a special prepaid card which you can purchase to use for transportation on bus, train and tram services throughout the city. They’re valid for periods of 72, 48 or 24 hours with respective varying costs starting at around fourteen euros. The card allows you to travel on unlimited journeys as well as free or discounted admission to many of Valencia’s main attractions.
Parking is difficult during the Las Fallas celebration. There are numerous traffic restrictions throughout the festivities where many streets are closed, some areas of the city are completely off-limits to cars and on-street parking is not permitted.
The Valencian council do issue a free map with recommended parking places on the outskirts of the city which includes information on the closest metro stations, but places fill swiftly. Its easier and much less stressful to use public transport than try and park during Las Fallas.
The festival of Las Fallas as it is today has been celebrated in Valencia since the mid-nineteenth century. It has evolved from a yearly custom of the city’s carpenters to clean out their workshops at the end of winter.
On the day of St Joseph, when the days began to be longer and lighter, they would begin their annual ritual spring clean. Piling old wood, failed pieces of work and any other accumulated rubbish together.
This mass clear out always included the plank of wood which had carried the candle to illuminate the workshop during the dark days of winter as it was no longer needed.
In inevitable high spirits for the onset of Spring, the carpenters would dress the plank of wood in hats and clothes then place it on top of the pile to be burned with the rest. The plank or parot has over the ensuing years developed into the fantastic creations called ninots today.