Valencia’s biggest festival, Las Fallas, is coming up from March 15–19. All year long, Valencians look forward to this riot of color, noise and fire, marking the beginning of spring. Despite its huge importance here, Las Fallas isn’t very well known abroad, and visitors who haven’t done their homework can feel confused and overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. Plus, the 2017 festival is expected to be even bigger and better, as it’s the first since it was awarded UNESCO heritage status last November. Check out Culture Trip’s overview of the most important events and find out how to make the most of your visit to Valencia at this very special time of year.
For two weeks before Las Fallas officially begins, there are huge firework displays called mascletàs held outside the Town Hall in the middle of the afternoon – which is fine, because they’re all about noise rather than color. These much-anticipated events officially start on March 1, but since people really can’t wait, the city is starting to put on firework displays from February 25 this year. Be warned: the crowds at these events are huge. If you’ve got deep pockets, or are lucky enough to make local friends who can hook you up, the show is best enjoyed from one of the many balconies of homes and office buildings overlooking the huge Town Hall square, Plaça de l’Ajuntament.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
This is the elaborate opening ceremony, held on the last Sunday in February. The landmark Serranos Towers are lit up in a show of light, sound, music and pyrotechnics, and the whole world is officially invited to join the party by the city authorities and the Fallas Queen. Expect huge crowds around the towers and a very lively atmosphere.
The ninots exhibition
If you’re in Valencia before Las Fallas begins, you can still get involved and see some of the ninots, or figures that make up the Fallas monuments, at this exhibition. These unique sculptures are each made of a wooden frame covered in cartón piedra (literally “stone cardboard”, something similar to papier mâché) and then carefully, and usually elaborately painted. Some are beautiful, some are sweet, yet more are satirical takes on current events – you’ll see local and national politicians and celebrities, as well as international figures. On March 15, the day of the Plantà, they’ll be collected and displayed on the streets. You can vote for your favorite, and the most popular will be saved from the flames on March 19, going instead to the Fallas Museum (see below). From February 3 until March 15, at the Science Museum (part of the City of Arts and Sciences).
Learn about everything related to the festival through photographs and other memorablia at the Fallas Museum, not far from the City of Arts and Sciences. You can also see the colorful collection of ninots which, since 1934, have been saved by popular vote (see the ninots exhibition, above). If you’re interested in learning more about the craftsmanship and artistry of the professionals who make the figures, visit the Museum of the Guild of Fallas Artists.
This is when the real party begins. Artists take their finished Fallas monuments, complete with ninots, posters and any other details, and leave them on display on the streets of the city for the public to enjoy. The city temporarily becomes an outdoor art gallery and the Fallas week begins. Take some time to explore the city streets on foot, as you never know what you’ll come across.
Every small neighborhood has its own Falla, or fallas organisation, responsible for organizing festival events in their area. There are 380 organizations in total, so that’s a lot of parties. In the central areas of the city you’ll find “special” fallas who organize the biggest and most spectacular events, although these are also the most crowded. As you make your way through the city center you’ll find endless bonfires, street parties, food trucks, mobile discos and other goings-on at every turn. For organized concerts and live music events, check out the official events schedule online, in English.
What to eat
No festival in Valencia would be complete without delicious food. You’ll find paella cooking competitions in the streets, plus Las Fallas marks the beginning of spring, which is the time to eat churros with chocolate. These famous sweet snacks are loved all over Spain. But if you’re in Valencia you have to try the more local buñuelos. Much like churros, they’re deliciously sinful, fried, sugary snacks, but these are made with pumpkin. If you want to know exactly what the difference is you’ll just have to try both. You’ll find food trucks selling them all over the city during the festival.
After the mascletàs have ended, there’s no shortage of fireworks. The most spectactacular of these is held on the final nights of Las Fallas, and is known as the Nit del Foc in Valencian, or “night of fire.” This is a prelude to the main event of the festival: the Cremá.
All the months of painstaking preparation and weeks of fireworks and parties have been building up to this day; the grand finale of Las Fallas. At midnight, the giant wooden Fallas figures are burned in the street, lighting up the city in a blaze of light and heat. The smaller, children’s figures are burned earlier in the evening, in streets and squares all over the city.
The Offering of the Flowers
After the main festival ends, the members of the Fallas organizations put on their traditional costumes again for this parade. Flower offerings are made to the statue of the Virgen de los Desamperados (“Our Lady of the Forsaken”), whose huge statue is found in the middle of the square named after her in the city center.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.