Fallas, the major festivity in Valencia

Falleras parading in Valencia / Brogana Broad

Las Fallas, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, epitomises Valencia’s cultural richness.

Named after the towering wooden and papier-mâché monuments displayed across the city, these ephemeral artworks captivate before succumbing to flames. Alongside large structures, smaller children’s fallas, crafted by and for the youth, add charm to the festivities.

Fallas, a tradition deeply rooted in Valencia 

Rooted in spring celebrations and St. Joseph’s Day, the festival kicks off with the Crida event, where falleras mayores ignite enthusiasm. The falleras mayores are girls and women dressed with the traditional attire who represent each falla/ group. From March 1, the Mascletà erupts daily, leading to the climax from March 15th to 19th, marked by the plantà when all the fallas are placed in the streets. This special tradition is celebrated around other cities of Comunidad Valenciana.

What makes Fallas a vibrant and an extraordinary event?

Fallas in Valencia
Credit: LUISMARTIN Shutterstock

Central to the spectacle are the fallas, each narrating tales through intricate sculptures or ninots. Satirical and creative, these artworks often parody celebrities or societal issues, enticing viewers with humour and ingenuity. The crescendo comes on March 19th as they ignite, infusing the night with blazing grandeur.

Yet, Fallas offer more than fiery spectacles. Vibrant firework displays, including the Nit del Foc (night of the fire) and the reverent Flower Offering to Our Lady of the Forsaken, enrich the experience. Traditional attire adorns falleros and falleras, showcasing Valencian craftsmanship amidst music-filled streets.

Approximately 800 fallas adorn Valencia, split between children’s and major commissions, each contributing to the festival’s visual tapestry. The cremà, a climactic ritual, unfolds on March 19, with staggered burnings allowing spectators to witness multiple spectacles.

Some end up in the museum

Some ninots evade the flames, chosen by popular vote for pardon and preservation in the Fallas Museum. Here, alongside preserved relics, visitors unravel the festival’s symbolism through posters and photographs.

While subjective appreciation colours individual preferences, an official competition, adjudicated by a jury, awards accolades based on innovation and artistic merit. On March 16th, winners across categories, including the prestigious Special Section for large and children’s fallas, are celebrated for their excellence and allure, drawing crowds in admiration.

In essence, Fallas transcend mere festivities; they embody Valencia’s cultural essence, blending tradition with creativity, and inviting all to revel in its ephemeral splendor.

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Written by

Marina Lorente

A Spanish woman who has returned to her motherland after 6 years living in London. She is passionate about nature, animals and yoga.