The Fallas Festival is celebrated from the 15th – 19th of March.
This enormous festival, the Fallas in Valencia, which rambles all over the city, could be tough to track. However, local writer Zach Frolich breaks it down into concise chunks. Zach has organized info for this stupendous event that makes it easy to follow. Catch Zach’s other posts, Fallas In Valencia: Part 1 – What To Expect, Part 2 – When, Where, and How, and Part 3 – Fun and Food.
By Zach Frolich
Here is my recommended daily itinerary to take with you when you visit Valencia the week of Fallas:
• Early morning: Sleep in, if you can. On some days you might hear la despertà early in the morning, which is when the Casals, in full prank mode, parade around their neighborhood at 8:00 a.m. or so playing music and throwing masclets, which are hand-fireworks that sound like massive bombs when they go off.
• Around noon: Pick a central neighborhood and stroll to see their fallas in the daytime. (This might be a good time to see the out-of-the-way good fallas, like Campanar or Na Jordana.) You also might get a snack so that you can make it to a late lunch.
• 2:00 p.m: Be at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to listen to the daily mascletà.
• 2:15-4:00 p.m: Lunch
• 4:00-6:00 p.m: Take a siesta, because… why not? You’ll want to be rested to stay out late at night when things really pick up
• 6:00-8:00 p.m: Check out the ofrenda processions on their way to the Plaza de la Virgen. Listen to the bands play this classic fallas soundtrack.
• 9:00 p.m: Get a sandwich (I recommend a blanc i negre sausage sandwich) for dinner so that you can be back out on the streets to take in the fallas lit up at night.
• 10-12:00 p.m. (except on La nit de la cremà): Head over to Russafa to see the most impressive light displays.
• 12-2:00 a.m. (depending on the night): Walk along the River Turia and take in the festivities.
• 2:00 a.m. onward: Continue strolling through the downtown streets. Things will be pretty active well until 4:00 a.m.
La nit de la cremà, the final countdown:
The last stage of the festivities is la cremà, which translates to ‘the burning’, and it takes place on the night of March 19th. All t he fallas across the town, even the prize-winning ones which cost hundreds of thousands of euros, are burned. There is a sequence to the burning tradition. At 10:00 p.m. each group burns its falla infantil (children’s falla) early so that the kids can watch. At 10:30 p.m. the winning falla infantil is burned followed by the burning of the town hall’s falla infantil at 11:00 p.m.
The same order is repeated later with the falla mayor, so you’ll want to pick a falla to watch burn because it’s not possible to see them all at the same time. I recommend one the big ones, but keep in mind whether or not the plaza has adequate space for the large crowds that are sure to show up. At 12:00 a.m. all the fallas burn except two. Then at 12:30 a.m. the winning falla mayor burns, followed by the charring of the town hall’s own falla a 1:00 a.m.
The format for la cremà is more or less the same for all. With each cremà, the falla first gives a brief fireworks show, and then lights a string of traca fireworks which explode in a series leading up to light the falla, starting the fire.
While you’ll want to pick a spot not too close to the burning falla, there is extraordinary preparation and fire control exercised for la cremà. With every falla burning there is a stationed firefighter squad and the firefighters keep the burning falla under control with water hoses.
And that’s it. The wildest part of Fallas is how suddenly the city shifts gears from party to routine. Maybe out-of-town visitors will stay up and keep partying on the last night, but most Valencians, even the hardcore falleros, will head home, go to sleep, and even wake up the next day and go to work (well, many falleros might come in a little late to work the next day).
Suddenly Valencia’s streets will be silent…like the prominent silence after a cease-fire has been signed. No more firework craziness until then next year (or at least until the next weekend wedding).
Bio: Zach Frohlich, originally from Austin, Texas, has been traveling between Spain and the U.S. for over a decade, and settled and is living in Valencia for the last couple of years. He is a historian by training and married to a Spaniard. He shares cultural insights and background on Spain at: www.nothemingwaysspain.blogspot.com