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las fallas in valencia, spain

Updated: Apr 9

As Spain's third largest city, Valencia is often, unjustly, overshadowed by Barcelona and Madrid. This hidden gem of a city is full of tradition, color, gastronomy, fire, music and joy - Particularly during Las Fallas (the city's largest celebration and one of the craziest festivals in all of Spain)!

The origin of Las Fallas dates back to the 15th century, when carpenters and other artisans celebrated the additional hours of daylight gained by the arrival of spring. Their parrots (the plank of wood attached to their lanterns, used to light up workshops during the winter months) were burnt at their doors in commemoration. Craftsmen and other people from the neighborhood would feed the fire with shavings of wood, old furniture and other flammable objects.

Traditions gradually evolved and the parrots were given arms and legs, to make them more human-like. Clothes, hats and other adornments were eventually added. After a period of time, the parrots became known as ninots (doll-like effigies/puppets -- a group of ninots make up a fallas or fallero monument). Ninots today often depict famous people and/or critique current affairs, with a good dose of humor, satire and creativity.

There are about 800 monuments set up in Valencia's streets and squares during the festival. Each take many months to design/build and can cost thousands of Euros. Individual ninots and elements of the fallas are hand-made, using various materials like cardboard, wood, plaster, Styrofoam, polyester and papier-mâché. They are constructed in warehouses and then installed in the streets, where the finishing touches are applied.

The dates of Las Fallas festivities are officially 1st - 19th March, with things really ramping up from the 15th. The final five days and nights of Fallas are one big, continuous street party with lots of noise (fireworks, sparklers, poppers, music, parades, percussions, singing and car alarms). Around midnight on March 19th, at the culmination of the Fallas festival, the effigies are reduced to ashes in a ceremony known as La Cremà (the burning). 

Similar to the annual US pardoning of a turkey on Thanksgiving, one ninot is selected, by popular vote, and spared from the flames. That winning ninot goes on display at the Fallero Museum.

I highly recommend experiencing this spectacular event in Valencia, but if your travels don't coincide with Las Fallas, below is a closer look at some of the other things that this lovely city on the coast of Spain has to offer.


If it's nice out (and it probably will be since Valencia gets ~300 days of sunshine a year), go to the beach to catch some rays and shoot some hoops (errrr?).

Check out one of the main works of Valencian Art Nouveau at Mercado de Colón. Whilst you're there, you might as well have a delicious sangria (for ~€4) at Wine & Flowers.

Stroll through Plaza de la Reina (The Queen's Square) and take in the sights and sounds.

The Lonja de la Seda (Valencian Silk Exchange) is one of Spain’s most beautiful, civil Gothic buildings. It was built during the Golden Age, when the city became famous for its silk trade. The Lonja became part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1996. I only admired the building’s exterior, but it is possible to go inside.

The Plaza de la Virgen, surrounded by historic buildings, was once the forum of Roman Valencia. Select an outdoor cafe, sit back, relax, have a drink and people watch. During Fallas, numerous parades will pass by you and the plaza will be buzzing.

One of Valencia’s most iconic and futuristic landmarks is its City of Arts and Sciences. This architectural jewel is one of the largest scientific and cultural complexes in all of Europe. It is composed of impressive, avant-garde buildings, shallow blue pools and elevated walkways. Even if you don't have the time or desire to explore the museums, it's worth seeing the exterior of this complex.

You'll find L'Oceanogràfic (Europe's largest aquarium) located at the far end of the City of Arts and Sciences complex. It is massive and impressive, and not just for kids. You could easily spend a whole day there. Buy tickets online, in advance, to avoid the queues.

Valencia has one of the best urban parks in Spain. Turia Park is the perfect place to enjoy a walk, go for a jog, play sports or cycle. Just watch out for kiddos throwing firecrackers during Las Fallas.

After dinner one night, enjoy an intimate flamenco show at El Toro y La Luna. You'll be welcomed here like you're family.


Valencia is the birthplace of paella, so get your fill. I had a lunch of champions, at El Tromp Paella House, when I was by the beach. Start with the Manchego and a sangria. Then share the lobster paella. Muy delicioso!

If you fancy a cocktail and maybe a small bite, when you're by the beach, pop by the saloon-style Cerveseria Fregidura Sant Patrici.

Indulge in some tapas at Clann, because, well, it's Spain! Try the stuffed tomatoes, grilled vegies and melted queso at this cozy joint, on a side street near The Plaza de la Virgen.

Enjoy some egg-based dishes at Ahuevo in the Old Town.

If you're nearby the Arts and Sciences complex and start to feel peckish, enjoy a few starters at Contrapunto. I recommend the shrimp and artichoke appetizers.

Dinner at Vuelve Carolina is a must! This bright, contemporary space offers innovative cocktails and dishes. It's Michelin-level at a fraction of the price.

If you like to be on a rooftop, like I do, I suggest daytime drinks at Hotel Puerta Serranos and night-time dessert/digestifs at El Mirador rooftop at Only YOU hotel.

I was unable to get a reservation at Voltereta, but it looked beautiful and had great reviews.


  • Accommodations: If you visit for Las Fallas, stay centrally, near a Metro station so you can get to the airport. 700 streets are shut and become pedestrianized during the festival making it difficult for taxis/Ubers to operate.

  • Local Eats: Try the Fartons. They may have a funny name, but they are typical Valencian confectionery sweets. Elongated and glazed with sugar, they are made of flour, milk, sugar, oil, eggs and a leavening agent.

  • Language: Valencia has its own language - Valenciano. They do speak Spanish as well.


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