No matter if you’re an Erasmus Student or a professional, if you’re preparing to move to Valencia soon, you’ve probably already heard of the Las Fallas festival. If you are one of the few who haven’t, now is your chance. Spain is known for its festive and chill lifestyle, after all we’re talking about the country of Siesta and Kalimotxo. Many festivals are taking place in the country throughout the year, but only a few attract tourists from both Spain and overseas. Las Fallas Festival is definitely one of those.
Good news: Las Fallas Festival of 2021 will happen this SEPTEMBER from the 1st to the 5th!
A little bit of history
Taking place usually from the 15th to the 19th of March, the Festival originates from the Middle Ages. During the long and dark days of winter, when the sun sets early, Valencians would use a parrot: a plank of wood holding their lanterns to be able to work in the dim evenings. Once spring and sun make their awaited comeback, workers would no longer need their lanterns, so they would burn their parrot at the doorstep of their workshop. People from all over the district would bring all kinds of objects to feed the fire, celebrating the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
The tradition evolved little by little, and every district would create human-like figures called ninots to burn during the celebration. Valencians being Valencians, ninots would soon portrait local or famous personalities, related to recent news or political events, offering a rather satirical perspective on what’s happened during the past year. In each district, the Ninots are assembled together in a structure called Falla.
A full week of celebration and explosions
During the Festival, the whole city turns into a giant never-ending party: parades, paella competitions, bullfights, street food, beauty shows and much more! In total, 700 streets are blocked to traffic, so there’s plenty of space for the 1 million tourists that the festival attracts each year. Valencia is filled with a unique atmosphere, you’ll quickly understand why it is said that everybody should attend Las Fallas at least once during their life.
La Mascleta: 1st – 19th of March
If on the 1st of March you are woken up by explosions and feel the ground shaking, don’t panic, it’s just the Mascleta, so you can try to go back to bed. Taking place in each neighborhood at 14:00, la Mascleta is a huge display of colorful firecrackers. The loudest and most ground-shaking one happens at La Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Just don’t forget to keep your mouth open to protect your ears.
La Desperta : 15th – 19th of March
If you thought you could sleep until late in the morning and take part in the celebrations at night, then you could not be more wrong. During the week of the festival, each day starts with La Desperta : at 8:00 am, everybody marches in the streets with one sole purpose: to make as much noise as possible, and everything is permitted : fireworks, percussion,singing, and even car alarms. Get up, chug your coffee and join La Desperta to wake up your neighbors.
La Planta – 1st Day
On the first day of the Festival, every community will be building up their Fallas. There are 2 types of Fallas; Falla Infantil, for children, often portraying fairy tales or Disney characters and Falla Mayor, portraying celebrities, politicians, or related to recent news events. From this day to the last night of the festival, the fallas will remain displayed in the streets for you to admire.
Popular Vote – 2nd Day
More than 700 Fallas are built on this day, and each district needs to choose 1 Falla of each type to enter the Falla contest. Among the 700 Fallas built during the previous day, only 2 Fallas : 1 Falla infantil and 1 Falla Mayor will be declared as winners by popular vote. These 2 Fallas will become Fallas Indultats: the only ones to escape the flames and survive the Festival. The Fallas Indultats will be preserved and exposed into the Fallas Museum, where you can admire all the Fallas Indultats since 1934 !
La Ofrenda – 3rd & 4th Day
During these 2 days, thousands of Falleras -women wearing a Valencian traditional dress made of silk- will walk through the streets towards La Plaza de la Virgen. Carrying flowers all the way towards their destination, Falleras will then offer them to the Virgen de los Desamparados: a giant wooden statue representing the beloved patroness of Valencia. The flowers are then attached to the statue, forming the patroness’ giant and elegant dress.
La Nit del Foc – 5th Day
Every evening of the festival is marked by a huge display of fireworks that can be seen in all the city. With every night, the fireworks are louder and more spectacular, before culminating in the Nit del Foc, the Night of Fire. But the Nit del Foc is merely a preview of what is coming next…
La Crema Grand Finale – Last Day
La Crema Grand Finale is what makes Las Fallas so unique and grandiose. At 23:00, all the Falla infantil are set on fire. Once the countdown ends and midnight is reached, the street lights are turned off. The massive crowds of people begin to sing, and finally all the Fallas Mayor throughout the city are set on fire. The smoke created by the fire quickly clouds the streets, leaving only the flames and the fireworks to be seen. Some are dancing and singing to celebrate the arrival of the new season, while others watch in awe the burning Falla’s last moments, before they completely vanish in ashes!
Now you know what to expect from Las Fallas; explosions, fireworks, paella, more explosions. An overall unique experience is waiting for you and calls you to seize the opportunity! Secure your student room for September and make sure to be in Valencia on time to celebrate the Festival and kickstart your Erasmus! For more info on the event calendar visit the official website of the festival.