The Fast and the Fiery-ous…Izzy Heal explores the most important upcoming Fallas events ahead of the festival’s explosive conclusion this Sunday…
Declared a World Heritage Festival by UNESCO in 2016, Las Fallas is a uniquely Valencian celebration. Through the celebrations the city comes alive 24/7 to celebrate the coming of Spring. Officially, Fallas lasts from the 14-19th of March. However, as you probably know, the Spanish don’t do things by halves.
The festivities really begin on 26th February with a ‘macrodespertà’. This is an insane parade of smoke and noise designed to wake the city up at 7:30am and announce the start of the event. From this moment on, the city surrenders to ‘petardos’ and ‘Fallas’ around every corner. These are little paper wrappers of gunpowder, the same as firecrackers from the UK, and huge satirical statues. Men, women, and children all take part in the unofficial celebrations as they set off petardos and other small fireworks at all hours of the day, filling Valencia with noise and colour for the weeks to come.
As the festival builds to its climax on the 14-19th of March, the urban saying is that it becomes impossible to count to 10 without hearing an explosion somewhere in the city. Though that may seem hyperbolic, from the noise level so far I wouldn’t be surprised!.
As far as official celebrations are concerned, the festival reaches its height with an eruption of fireworks and flames from Thursday 16th. The unmissable event of the day has to be the the late night firework show. This will take place at the Palau de les Arts in Alameda at 00:30am (though it’s technically Friday by then). If you have made it to one of the town square’s ‘Mascletàs’ you’ll be familiar with the bone-shaking racket of gunpowder blasts set off by Valencia’s mayor. Since the town hall uses gunpowder explosions instead of fireworks, you can expect an entirely different experience in the evening. The ‘Castillo’ of fireworks promises an incredible show of colour and light illuminating the whole sky for longer than possible. These fireworks will take place every evening until the end of Fallas in Alameda, ending with the spectacular Nit del Foc on Sunday 19th at 1am.
After the typical Mascletà in the town square at 2pm, Friday 17th brings new events to the table with the offering of flowers to the ‘Virgen de los Desamparados’, or the Lady of the Forsaken. In the Plaza de la Virgin, a giant statue of the city’s patron saint is constructed for this immense event. Each neighbourhood has its own ‘Ninot‘, accompanied by its own ‘falleras’ and ‘falleros’ dressed in traditional costume. From the 17th, these falleras parade through the streets of Valencia with bouquets of flowers to offer to the Virgen de los Desamparados. They then place these in designated spaces in her bare skirt. The resulting effect is a stunning floral dress made entirely of flowers offered to the Saint by the neighbourhoods of the city. Her skirt will continue to bloom and flourish with offerings until 00:50am on Sunday 19th.
Finally, the must-see Sunday event has to be the fire parade along the Calle Colón. This will run from Ruzafa to the plaza de la Porta de la Mar. From then, the festival reaches its fiery height as the ‘Cremàs’ begin. This consists of the burning of all of the Fallas, starting with the children’s at 8pm and ending with the Town Hall’s at 11pm.
These official events are surely unmissable as they promise the fiery energy of excited crowds, traditional food stands, and immense displays. However, the Contemporary Cultural Centre of El Carmen (CCCC for short) offers a slightly more underground take on the celebrations. In honour of Fallas they are hosting an installation of light, art, and music from 3-10pm every day from 16-19th March. Even more impressively, they are holding free concerts and DJ sessions from the 16th to the 19th of March from 6pm-10pm every day.
With Fallas taking over every corner of the city, it’s hard to get to every event. This list offers you some top picks to head to, but if you step one foot outside you’re guaranteed to find that there’s always something happening. Whether it’s investigating the incredible lights in Ruzafa, visiting the Fallas on every street corner, or enjoying some churros or buñuelos at a food truck, Fallas is sure to appeal to everyone!