Fallas Valencia: The Complete Guide

During Fallas in Valencia, the city begins to catch a whiff of gunpowder. To be well-prepared and not miss a thing, here’s all the information you need to enjoy the Fallas in Valencia.

On March 15 the streets of Valencia will be transformed by a festival that has been declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Fallas in Valencia 2020 officially begins on March 15 with the plantá and ends on March 19 with the cremá. During these five days, the city of Valencia fills with light, colour, noise and fire. The streets are beset by hundreds of caricatures and satirical representations that poke fun at politicians, celebrities and current affairs.

History of Fallas in Valencia

The celebration of Fallas in Valencia can be reliably traced to the mid-18th century. The oldest documentation on Fallas dates back to 1740 when the municipal authority of Valencia issued a decree prohibiting the burning of fallas in the city’s narrow streets.

There are several theories about the origin of the Fallas in Valencia. What follows is a logical interpretation based on the evidence.

Coinciding with the celebrations of the change of season (spring equinox associated with San Jose and summer solstice with San Juan) it was customary to light fires as a celebration. It is believed that this custom dates back to the era of the Valencian Taifa and perhaps even earlier in the history of Valencia.

Carpenters took advantage of the change of season to clear their workshops of accumulated off-cuts and rubbish which would then be piled on to the street and burnt. During the winter carpenters used a parot, a wooden frame in the shape of an inverted “L” that supported candles for illuminating the workshop. With the coming of Spring and longer daylight hours, working by candlelight was no longer a necessity and parots were discarded on the street. Similar to scarecrow structures, parots were ingeniously modified and clothed to resemble caricatures of neighbourhood identities. This figure today is known as a ninot.

With the appearance of ninots in the city streets, Fallas was born in Valencia. The festival was built around the ninots, which in turn, are part of the Falla or Fallas monument that is burned on March 19.

Ninots and Fallas Monuments

The ninots are satirical figures that represent people during the fallas festival. These monumental statues are made by teams of craftspeople, sculptors, painters and architects who use combustible materials such as wood, paper and cardboard. As mentioned, the fallas began by poking fun at local personalities or areas of the neighbourhood. Over time, fallas has grown and the satirical messages are now directed at the municipal level, criticising laws and local government. When the ninots are consumed by fire, it is a symbolic destruction of local grievances.

Some of the best fallasin Valencia are recognized in a Special Section – usually they are the ones with the largest budget. These are located in the city centre such as Convento Jerusalen, Na Jordana and El Pilar. The falla hosted by Valencia City Hall is always the last to be burned on Nit de la Cremà, March 19.

Traditionally, children’s fallas were built by the children of each neighbourhood, but these days adults build them for children.

Despertá

Fallas in Valencia begins every day with the wake-up call. Marching bands and a multitude of firecrackers ring out to awaken the whole neighbourhood!

Falleras

The Fallera Mayor is the ambassador of Fallas in Valencia and she represents all falleros. To be eligible for the honour, falleras must be dressed in the typical Valencian costumes and be present at all the events.

The fallera mayor infantil is a child representing the youngest falleros and generally accompanies the fallera mayor.

The falleras mayores for 2020 were elected on October 17, 2019.

The current fallera costumes are based on the way the women of Valencia dressed in the 18th and 19th centuries. It began as a work costume, but with the passage of time it was transformed into an elegant outfit for special occasions.

New outfits can cost between €2,000-12,000. The price reflects the use of expensive materials such as silk and the many hours of manual needlework required to fashion such costumes.

Mascletá

Fallas in Valencia bids farewell to winter by sounding the mascletá, which is the quintessential Valencian pyrotechnic show. It’s about making noise. A lot of noise. Rather than the colourful visual spectacle of typical fireworks, the pyrotechnics of the mascleta are designed to be heard. The magic lies in the staccato rhythms and sonorous booms.

To enjoy a mascletá, aim be in the Town Hall Square no later than 1pm. By the time it begins at 2pm, it will be near impossible to find a place close to the square.

From the balcony of the town hall, the fallera mayor and the fallera infantil instruct the pyrotechnic engineer, “Senyor pirotècnic pot començar la mascletà“. (Mr. pyrotechnician, you may begin the mascletà!)

Mascletás are the pyrotechnic shows preferred by Valencians. Almost 200kg of gunpowder is used in chained successions that temper the whole square. The explosions last approximately 8-10min.

Cridá

We begin Fallas in Valencia with the long-awaited cridá (“the call”), at Torres de Serrano, where the Mayor of Valencia and falleras mayores announce the official start of Fallas in Valencia. After their speeches the city’s anthem sounds and a firework display is set off.

Cabalgata del Ninot

The cabalgata del ninot is a carnival-like parade featuring performers and mobile floats that satirize current affairs.

La Plantá

On March 15 the plantá is celebrated and with it begins the spectacle of Fallas.

During the whole day judges will review the best fallas (also known as ninots). In the morning, the children’s fallas and in the evening, those of the adults.

Ruzafa Lights

The lighting of the streets during the Fallas in Valencia is one of the most eagerly-anticipated spectacles of the year. Just a few minutes from the centre is Ruzafa neighbourhood, where you can enjoy the best lighting in the city and a multitude of food stalls.

Ofrenda

A tribute to the Virgen de los Desamparados, Patron Saint of Valencia. From all over Valencia, dressed in their best Fallas costumes, more than 60,000 falleras and falleros make a pilgrimage to Plaza de la Virgin. Each will bear a bouquet of carnations that they leave to the massive wooden figure of the Virgin Mary in front of the Basilica. These bouquets are placed in empty spaces scaffolded around the base of the statue becoming a vibrant and aromatic, floral skirt.

The last offering of March 17 is made by the fallera infantil. The falleramayor makes the final offering on March 18 before the fireworks display.

We recommend you visit the offering on March 18 so as to enjoy the sight and aroma of the beautiful completed mantle of the Virgin.

Castillos

The castillos are Valencia’s awe-inspiring pyrotechnic shows.

La Nit del Focis celebrated on the night of March 18 and marks the last night of Fallas in Valencia. Launched from Turia gardens, the spectacle consists of 20 minutes of impressive light and sound. If you get there early to get a good spot on the Aragon Bridge, you will have prime position to observe the Nit del Foc.

El Cabalgata del Foc

During the Cablagata del Foc, The Fire Parade, demons and other fantastic creatures parade through the streets of Ruzafa and along Calle Colon to Porta de la Mar. The parade represents the exaltation of fire, as this is the night of the Cremà, when all the falla across the city are set alight. During the procession there are fire performances accompanied by music, elaborately decorated floats, people in extraordinary costumes, gunpowder and fire. The parade embodies the spirit of the Fallas festival – a fascinating spectacle as darkness descends upon Valencia.

Cremá

The night of March 19 is known as the cremá or the Eve of San Jose, a magical night, when the fallas are set alight. The skies of Valencia blaze with flame as the ninots burn. The last to burn is the falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

It is the end point of the effort of falleros and falleras who work throughout the year, in this great festival, the festival of Fallas in Valencia.

Program for Fallas in Valencia 2020

February 1-28

Read our guide to the museums, the Ninot Exhibition, the First Mascleta at Valencia Marina and what to do during Fallas in Valencia 2020.

February 29

8pm – Vertical Mascleta at Valencia Marina, 8pm.

March 1

7:30amMacrodesperta – the big wake-up call! Starting on Calle de la Paz and proceeding to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Locals light noisy crackers to wake up the neighbourhood and fill the streets with smoke. Finishing in front of the town, the skies erupt to the sounds of a mascletà.

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square)

8pmCridá at Serranos Towers

March 2-5

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

March 6

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

8pmStreet Light Switch On – Falla Sueca Literato Azorín Ruzafa

March 7

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

5pmCabalgata del Ninot. Departing the Glorieta, via Calle de la Paz, Sant Vicente, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Marqués de Sotelo and finishing at Calle de Játiva.

Midnight – Night Mascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

March 8-12

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

March 13

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Midnight – Night Mascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

March 14

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Midnight – Night Mascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

March 15

9amPlantà of children’s falls

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Midnight – Fireworks in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

March 16

8amPlantà of the falla

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Midnight – Fireworks at Paseo de la Alameda

March 17

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

3:30pmOfrenda to the Virgen Mary

1am – Fireworks at Paseo de la Alameda

March 18

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

3:30pmOfrenda to the Virgen Mary

1:30amNit Del Foc – Fireworks at Paseo de la Alameda

March 19

2pmMascleta in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

7pmCabalgata del Fuego along Calle de Colón, from Calle de Ruzafa to Plaza Porta la Mar

10pmCremà of children’s falla

11pmCremà of Children’s Falla at Plaza del Ayuntamiento

MidnightCremà of all Valencian falla

1amCremà of the falla at Plaza del Ayuntamiento

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