What is the Fallas Festival?
If you are visiting the Costa Blanca in March you can’t miss the local celebrations the “Fallas”. This traditional fiesta takes place on the 15th of March in honor of Saint Joseph in the region’s capital, Valencia and draws thousands of visitors every year. The word “Fallas” refers to the celebration itself and to the impressive cardboard monuments that are burnt during the fiestas. This exciting event is also part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list since 2016!
The Fallas are originally from Valencia but all major cities on the Costa Blanca have their own version of it. If you are staying in one of our Moraira holiday villas you can also drive to Denia or Calpe.
Each neighborhood has its own group of “falleros” responsible for building a sculpture and organizing local events. They work all year long on these short-lived sculptures. They raise funds by organizing popular paellas parties and dinners. Valencia has over 750 fallas association with about ¼ of the city’s population involved!
Traditionally the Fallas unveil their sculptures on the 15th of March and the city celebrates for 4 days until Saint Joseph’s Day, the 19th of March. The whole city takes part in a continuous street party. Streets fill with fireworks, street parades, food trucks, concerts etc.
Each year has a different theme and it often revolves around a satirical take on current events, especially politics. Corruption, the Catalan crisis, and the broken bureaucracy system are recurring themes. Between medieval characters, you might stumble upon a parody of Barack Obama, Donald Trump or The Spanish King.
The Fallas is a continuous 4-day celebration but there are 4 main chapters to the Fallas Celebration:
1- La Despertà
The Fallas begins every day at 8:00 am with the Despertà (“the wake-up “).The Falleros wake the city up by firing thousands of loud bangers and marching down the streets with brass bands. Good luck trying to stay asleep!
Pictures by Keith Ellwood
2 -La Mascleta
The Mascleta takes place every day on Valencia’s main square at 2:00 PM. The Fallera Major, the queen of the Fallas, dressed in traditional costume appears on the Town Hall’s balcony and thousands of firecrackers and fireworks are fired simultaneously. The Mascleta is also at the heart of many Valencia celebrations such as the Moors and Christians festival and the local fiestas and weddings.
3 – L’Ofrena de Flors
Amid all this partying some events are still tied to the Catholic religion. On the 17th March, the falleros and their children will march with flowers for the Virgin Mary. The statue of the Saint is then covered with flowers to protect the neighborhood for the upcoming year.
Pictures by Pilar Chiang, Víctor Gutiérrez Navarro, Aaron Raja
4 – La Crema
On the last night of the Fallas, the Fallas sculptures are set on fire to officially close the celebrations. This last chapter is known as La Cremà (the Burning).
Each falla is laden with fireworks and the construction itself is lit during the explosion of these fireworks. Firemen work all night throughout the city to make sure the surrounding buildings and the public stay safe during this impressive spectacle. The main Falla on the Plaza de Ayuntamiento is the last one to be burned, as locals meet for one last party before the city goes back to normal.
How to get there
We don’t recommend getting to Valencia by car. The city will be extremely busy and finding a place to park will be difficult and expensive. If you want to visit the city on a day trip your best option is to drive to Gandia (about 25-30min from Moraira ), park there and hop on the train to Valencia. This will take you to the Colon square, the heart of the Fallas. You can also take a bus from Denia ( Alsa), it takes less than 1h30 and costs around 12€. You can enjoy the party for a day and hop back on the train/bus in the evening.