Las Fallas 2021

10:00am 15 Mar - 11:30pm 19 Mar, 2021
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Valencia, Spain

Las Fallas: Valencia city becomes an outdoor animation theatre

Las Fallas is Valencia’s biggest arts festival, it transforms the city virtually into its own cultural theme park with various attractions to satisfy the 2 million people that attend each year. If you are looking for an event full of fun, culture and tradition then Las Fallas is the one you want to attend.

Las Fallas is a 5-day festival that takes place on the streets of the city of Valencia in Spain. This festival has now become a major tradition for the Spanish people and is considered one of the craziest festivals on earth. 

The highlight of Las Fallas festival is the creation of ‘ninots’, which are very large cartoon-like sculpture figurines that are handmade using various types of materials including wood, plaster, cardboard, Styrofoam, polyester, and a lot of papier-mache. 

These huge figurines can sometimes take up to 12 months to make and end up costing thousands. The ninots typically represent the current “state of the world” type situations and often take the mickey out of celebrities and public figures. Very similar to the burning of Guy Fawkes on bonfire night, the ninots are first paraded around the streets and then engulfed in flames under a massive, and very impressive, display of fireworks.

During the festival, a group of judges examine and rate all of the figurines and select winners from varied categories who will receive prizes on the award night. The festival parade sees thousands of locals dressed in traditional handmade attire dancing through the beautiful Valencian streets to traditional Spanish music. Along with any good street festival comes masses of delicious street-food.

‘The original Valencian fire fiesta, created by carpenters, artists and silversmiths will have you captured by music, dancing and fireworks’

Your experience at Las Fallas

While Las Fallas is a week-long event, there is an array of events on for the whole month around the city of Valencia as the locals put the finishing touches on their work. You can see these sculptures beforehand. The handcrafted animations are all strikingly different.

There are unique events that pop up all over the city, including the sea of people parade, where finely dressed women wear handwoven dresses and hairpieces made by local silversmiths that light up like jewels in the Spanish sunlight. 

Join the firecracker parade called ‘Mascletà’. Locals walk in a procession smashing small wrapped packages filled with gunpowder onto the road is a long-standing tradition. This parade can reach a deafening 120 decibels as the firecrackers hit the ground. Bring headphones or your ears are ringing!

Fire is one of the symbols associated with the event, so there are daily gunpowder parades and fireworks displays at night during the festival week. These happen during the day, at 2 pm there is the main parade. It’s more about the noise than the light for this part of the celebration. 

At the religious flower-offering parade finely dressed ladies march together bringing flowers to a massive 15-meter tall construction that represents the Virgen de los Desamparados. The flowers become the decoration of the virgin’s cape. The virgin is the patron saint of Valencia. You can admire the cape for two days before the end of the festival.

For the grand finale all the fallas (sculptures) will be set ablaze. This takes two hours! They begin adding the smaller ones as the bigger ones are all lined up beside the fire and added as the night continues. 

It’s your last chance to view your favorite ones before they go up in smoke. All that handmade work gone in a puff of smoke. 

Long-standing cultural events like this that have been in Spain for centuries are designed to toy with people’s emotions. They sure have a strange way of keeping themselves entertained, but this is what draws people back every single year! 

Best views in Valencia

Every main street in Valencia has its attractions throughout the festival week. As all offices shut down and everyone is exploring the city on foot. There are over 700 fallas sculptures on display, each set tells a unique story. 

Guided tours by the Valencia Tourism Board are a great way of getting the most out of the festival. It is one of the best ways that visitors can hear the stories of the culture and traditions of the event.  The public can also vote for their favorite structures so touring around is very interactive. Join one of the many street parties at night, some are outdoor concerts or discos.

This is a great place to get a feel for the spirit of the festivities.  

What to wear

Spain’s weather is usually nice but it can still be cold in Spring, especially at night. Wear some warm clothes as most of the event is taking place in the evening. Many locals wear traditional costumes in celebration of the Valencian tradition. Women dress in silk and lace dresses in all different colors while the men look more like pirates. 

What to pack

Earmuffs for all the firecrackers and fireworks!

Buy tickets

The Las Fallas festival starts on March 15 and will finish on March 19. It takes place on the last days of winter. As the festival is a street festival it is a free event although there are small festival guide companies that charge around €13 for a guided tour of the festival. 

Las Fallas Event Schedule

The official event takes place from 15-19 March. In the lead up of the Fallas week, many activities take place like fireworks, pyrotechnic celebrations (mascletà) and parades. You notice the smell of gunpowder and the sound of firecrackers, a Valencian tradition to kick off the festivities.

First day and night ‘The Plantà’ – March 15, 2021

The first night of the festival is called ‘The Plantà’, which is a hive of activity for the model makers. They spent the whole previous year creating their animated figures (Ninots). There is so much to see on the streets as all of the figurines end up in place to be judged the next morning. Watch the artists erect their story sets in shifts, all night long, while you enjoy street entertainments, fireworks, food and music.

8 am: Set up of the kid’s Fallas
2 pm: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà) at Plaza del Ayuntamiento
6 pm: Closing ceremony of the Ninot Exhibition (2 Ninots are saved from the fire, the lucky two are selected that day based on the number of votes received)
12 pm: Set up of all the Fallas
1:30 am: Firework display at Paseo de la Alameda

Second day and night ‘Kid’s Award ceremony’ and procession – March 16, 2021

The second day is the kid’s award ceremony, where all of the artists parade towards Plaza del Ayuntamiento to receive their awards.  The evening kicks off with a procession and the night lights up the city once again with festivities amping right up once the darkness hits. 

2 pm: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà) at Plaza del Ayuntamiento
4:30 pm: Award Ceremony of the kid’s Fallas
10:30 pm: Procession Cabalgata Folklórica
1:30 am: Firework display at Paseo de la Alameda

Third day and night ‘Award ceremony’ and flower offering – March 17, 2021

The third day is the award ceremony for all Fallas. It’s a big ceremony, it’s an artisanal honor to receive recognition for the most unique works. The night brings extra fireworks. 

9:30 am: Award Ceremony of all Fallas
2 pm: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà) at Plaza del Ayuntamiento
4 pm: Offering of flowers to the Virgen de los Desamparados, the city’s patron saint
1:30 am: Firework display at Paseo de la Alameda

Fourth day ‘Mascletàs’ and night ‘La Nit del Foc Fireworks’ – March 18, 2021

After noisy, smoky and colorful spectacles during the day the flower offering takes place, which is a very traditional activity for the locals. Nightly midnight shows at Alamenda will be enhanced by Nit del Foc, which is a unique fireworks display in the wee hours of the morning before the day even kicks off!

11 am: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà) at Plaza del Ayuntamiento and tribute to the poet Maximiliano Thous at Calle Sagunto
12 pm: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà) at Plaza del Ayuntamiento and tribute to Maestro Serrano at Avenida Reino de Valencia
2 pm: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà)
4 pm: Offering of flowers to the Virgen de los Desamparados, the city’s patron saint
2:00 am: Firework display (La Nit del Foc) at Paseo de la Alameda

Final day and night ‘Cremà, the burning parade’ – March 19, 2021

The Cremà is the grand finale of the festival, it is on the last night and always on St Joseph’s Day. It’s a parade of sorts when the whole city seems to come alive with fire. Following the Cremà route, the burning begins to happen at 10 pm first with the smaller fallas. They then move on to the bigger ones as everyone follows, finishing up around 12.30. It’s a long procession with plenty of entertainment and good cheer, they just love fire here!  

The very last standing monument at Plaza del Ayuntamiento will be burned at 1 am, marking the end of the event. Astonishingly, by the next day, there is no trace of the fire, leaving visitors with a clean city to enjoy for another day. 

11 am: Offering of flowers to St. Joseph at St. Joseph Bridge
12 pm: Mass to honor St. Joseph at the Cathedral
2 pm: Pyrotechnic celebration (mascletà) at Plaza del Ayuntamiento
7 pm: Fire Procession from Calle Ruzafa via Calle Colon to Porta de la Mar
10 pm: Burning (Cremà) of the kid’s Fallas.
10:30 pm: Burning (Cremà) of the kid’s Falla that received the first prize
11 pm: Burning (Cremà) of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento kid’s Falla
12 am: Burning (Cremà) of all the Fallas of Valencia
12:30 am: Burning (Cremà) of the Falla that received the first prize
1 am: Firework display at Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Top Tips

Be alert: Firecrackers can be set off at any time, even by children standing next to you, so be alert and aware of your surroundings.

The best professional fireworks: There’s an extra night time firework display at Turia Gardens during the event week, this is where you can see the best professional fireworks with many colors and shapes in the pyrotechnics. 

Location, location: Locals like to let off firecrackers under windows at 8am, so check with your accommodation if you are likely to be in one of these locations. No alarm needed!

History of Las Fallas

Las Fallas comes from an age-old tradition. Spanish carpenters marked the end of winter by burning discarded pieces of wood they would no longer need for lighting up the dark nights. This pagan ritual took place on the feast of Saint Joseph. 

By the time the 18th century has rolled around, the ritual had evolved to the carpenters carving caricatures out of the wood and displaying them to demonstrate unacceptable social behaviors, entertaining the community with its irony and criticism. These cartoon carvings were surely wonderfully creepy. 

Like many areas of Spain in the late 1800s, the people were repressed and prevented from performing their traditions. A magazine encouraged a competition in 1885 for the best Las Fallas. This led to the event becoming more artistic and popular than ever. 

The Valencia Town Hall began awarding prizes for the best fallas in 1901. Las Fallas began to gain popularity in 1929 and actively encourage visitors when it created handmade placards for each of the ‘scenarios’ so they could tell the story of each set. Fallas week was imagined in 1932 and the rest is history.  

From these ancient beginnings to burning 700 structures in one night, it is now known as one of the most unusual activities to happen in Spain. In 2017 UNESCO recognised the event as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

Things to do in Valencia

Learn about the history of the Las Fallas in its museums, as all of the past figurines that did not burn down are part of the collection. It’s a great insight for the visitor to the history of this event.  

One of the highlights of visiting the modern complex City of the Arts and Sciences is the Oceanogràfic Oceanarium.  Its magnificent scale is astonishing, as well as the fact that it is home to 500 different species of 45,000 animals. Beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions, walruses, penguins and sharks all swim past in the tank which literally pumps seawater from Valencia’s waterfront into the complex. 

Climb 207 steps to the top of the El Miguelete, a cathedral built in the 1300s. Admire the gothic construction on the way up to 50 meters, where you can enjoy the view of the city from the top tower. There is a ten-tonne bell called ‘Miguel’ made in 1432, begging to be rung…

What to eat in Valencia

At Las Fallas, you can expect to taste the absolute best Spanish dishes with platters of sausages, an array of grills and sea-food mixes, traditional paella, pic-n-mix tapas, and an assortment of meat stacks. Lining the streets there are countless desert wagons and portable bars offering a range of sweet treats and unlimited amounts of alcohol.

How to get there

You can access Valencia from other countries by European air carriers, hire cars, Euro railway, bus shuttles, and by ferry boat. Taking the metro from Valencia Airport is the easiest way to get into the city. The airport bus also runs regularly, taking passengers into the local area. 

Where to stay

There are many hotels, B&Bs, Airbnb’s, hostels, resorts, and self-catered apartments for rent throughout Valencia. Around the time of the festival, accommodation prices significantly increase and vacancies fill up very fast. Arrange your accommodation as soon as possible. 

The Old Town area of El Carmen has a unique eco-friendly apartment, dating from the 1800’s.  Everything has been restored using organic products and the bathroom is made with natural materials. The bed on offer contains of anti-allergic natural latex of course! There is a beautiful tall timber terrace door out to a balcony that has a view of the old city, it’ll take you right back in time.  

Total Valencia El Carmen is another apartment in the same area, super central and close to the cathedral and old city walls. If you prefer a hotel, check out Ramirez Flats & Bar. They offer apartments with kitchenettes but also serve breakfast in the morning. You get the best of both worlds at this beautiful place.

Head to the map here for more options around town.

How to get around

Naturally, the fallas celebrations cause a lot of travel disruptions in the city, but the atmosphere is incredible. More details on the primary parade streets and any public transport disruptions will be announced closer to the time of the event. The local buses, taxis as well as train services work well to get around the city, although its best to take in the festival routes by foot. 

Las Fallas is one of Spain’s most famous festival. Are you looking for events that are lesser-known? Read more about Concurs de Castells, which is La Merce’s rival.

Photo Credit: Las Fallas, Las Fallas Fans, Las Fallas Valencia

Spain Travel Tips:

Plan ahead: Book your perfect trip with our Spain travel guide and destination information. Does Spain require a visa? Check the visa requirements before you get caught up during your travel.

Stay safe: Even the best-laid plans can head south. battleface can help you stay safe in dangerous or hostile situations as well as that epic road trip or catching a few waves. How to stay safe during Las Fallas 2021? If you’re not covered for your trip yet, get your quote here.

Spend money wisely: Take public transport and dine in from time to time are common saving tips during traveling. How to spend money wisely in Spain? Make use of technology. There’s an app for everything.

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