Every Friday my sister Lisa steals the blog to post about her travels; past and present and this week she’s sharing her Travel Tips for Las Fallas in Valencia. It’s about to get hot hot hot!
As the large flaming piece of polystyrene came hurtling through the air toward me I was split between pushing my way back through the hordes behind me to avoid utter destruction or cheering in excitement at the top of lungs for the spectacle unfolding before me…and this is a perfect example of the emotional highs and lows that is Las Fallas.
How many festivals do you know where a lone female can walk around streets and side alleys past midnight in complete and utter safety? Eat churros at 2am and go shopping for souvenirs moments later. It is true the Spanish are night owls but the beating drums outside my hotel windows that reverberated through the courtyard below at 8am let me also know you can’t rule them out as early risers.
If you asked after my five full days in Valencia, Spain what there is to visit and do I would have to admit I didn’t see anything and couldn’t recommend a single thing. My days were full with Las Fallas events and if I wasn’t checking out the displays or on a tour of the different Fallas I was trying to get the best views by waiting up to 2 hours among the multitude of people to watch something burn or explode. This is a pyromaniacs paradise.
The perfect start to any Las Fallas is a trip along the waterfront to the Museo Fallero de Valencia with an extensive collection of the winning Fallas and Ninots from previous years. You can see how the styles and methods of creating these amazing pieces of art have developed and the issues of the day.
Then get yourself to the Plaza de Toros de Valencia (or bullring) and see the amazing feat that is Recortes. Essentially it is a group of daredevils who come as close to bulls as possible, jumping over them, spinning in front of them – pretty much everything the rest of the population would avoid. It is very popular so make sure you get your tickets, sunscreen and a cushion for your seat and enjoy!
Everyday at 2pm on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento la Mascleta takes place – get in early to get close the streets surrounding the square get packed. A fenced off area is full of firecrackers and fireworks which when set off can be heard around the city, send the ground shaking and block out the sun if for just a moment. It is a competition between the different neighbourhood groups for the best ‘performance’. You have to get up close and personal to this at least once.
I headed to the Tourist Office on Plaza de la Reina (a great place to pick up maps and event timetables) and picked up a tour around the big Fallas and an insight in to what Las Fallas is all about and what it means to locals. The tour took about 2 1/2 – 3 hours going behind the barricades and taking your knowledge of Las Fallas beyond the brochures.
From the 17th the flower offering to Virgen de los Desamparados at the Plaza de la Virgen begins. The perfect place to take in all the beautiful outfits worn by the Falleras and Falleros. It is clearly an emotional time for the participants with a full range of emotions on show.
You can not miss the lighted archways figuratively and literally. It seems the city converges on them and you’ll soon find yourself in a sea of people heading toward them. Add to that they have musical light displays = brilliant. I accidentally found myself under one of the archways after entering a Fallas on the hour for a closer look. It meant that instead of elbowing for a better view I had the archway almost entirely to myself.
On the 19th before the Crema (Burning) take a look at the Fire Procession – a Health & Safety nightmare! but a visitors dream.
Every night or morning, depending on which way you look at it – 1.30-2am, from the 15th to the 18th a fireworks spectacular takes place at Paseo de le Alameda. Join the throngs of revellers crowding the streets and pick a spot to enjoy the night sky light up.
Starting at around 10pm on the 19th the Crema (Burning) begins and continues to set Valencia alight. The speed at which the Fallas go up is amazing and the heat is on par with the hottest summers day. Follows the crowd around the city before heading to Plaza del Ayuntamiento in the early hours of the 19th to see the Valencias main Fallas set alight. There is a full range of emotion going on from cheering tourists, weeping locals, partying locals…you truly have to see it!
The main events of Las Fallas run between 15-19th of March in the seaside city of Valencia – so what are you waiting for ?!
p.s. don’t wear anything flammable!