Spain is known for its unique celebrations and festivals, from Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls to La Tomatina in Buñol. While both of those are still on my bucket list, I had an amazing time witnessing Las Fallas in 2023. The festival was unforgettable and I know I will come back to experience it again and again.
History of Las Fallas
Las Fallas is a festival in Valencia, Spain, celebrating the arrival of spring and honoring Saint Joseph, the patron of carpenters. The festival takes place in March and is a full month celebration. Locals construct huge paper-mache sculptures and then burn almost all of them on the last day. This tradition came from a “spring cleaning” tradition. The legend says that in winter, carpenters made special wooden torches called “parots” to work longer hours. When spring came, they celebrated by piling up and burning these torches in the streets. This became a big event with the whole neighborhood joining in. The carpenters started making shapes and characters out of wood and paper, which turned into the tall monuments we see in Valencia’s Las Fallas today.
In the present day, neighborhood committees order hundreds of “fallas” for the festival. It takes a whole year to design and make them as they can be as tall as 30 feet and they keep getting bigger and more elaborate every year. They’re built with wooden frames and covered in materials like cardboard, papier mâché, and foam.
When is Las Fallas?
The official celebration runs from March 15th to 19th, but the festivities begin on the last Sunday in February and continue until the late night of March 19th/early morning of March 20th.
Las Fallas main attraction are the colorful statues, but the night is also filled with fireworks, music, parades, and more.
Starting on March 1st, people gather in Plaza del Ayuntamiento to watch the Mascleta, a daily fireworks show at 2:00 p.m. It lasts about eight minutes and builds up to a big finale called a “terremoto” or earthquake.
Nighttime fireworks happen on weekends in March and every night during the festival. The most amazing fireworks happen on Nit del Foc, the final night of the celebration.
La Ofrenda de Flores
On March 17 and 18, you can see La Ofrenda in Plaza de La Virgen, near Valencia Cathedral.
After sunset, Valencia’s skyline glows as the fallas are set ablaze, and everyone gathers to celebrate. Most fallas start burning at about 10:00 p.m., except for the falla in Plaza del Ayuntamiento, which burns at 11:00 p.m.
Correfoc, which means “Fire Run,” is like a fun parade where people dressed as devils and carry sticks with fireworks, shooting sparks around and into the crowd. On the final day of Las Fallas, a big Correfoc parade goes down Carrer de Colon, the main street in Valencia. Tip: if you’d rather not get hit by sparks, it’s best not to stand right at the front!
Tip: Staying in Valencia during Las Fallas
Staying in the city during the festival can get expensive, so be prepared to pay extra. I recommend getting a hotel outside of the center, but still within walking distance. That way you can head to the hotel when you’re ready and not stay up because of all the festivities.
Don’t miss the festival food!
During the festival, hundreds of churros and buñuelos stands are installed all over the city.
What Spanish festival is on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!