What are Fallas? The origins of the Fallas Festivity goes back to an old tradition of the city's carpenters, who before the Festivity of their patron Saint Joseph, burned in front of their workshops, on the streets and public squares, their useless things and other wooden utensils they used to hold the candles that gave them light during the winter season. This is the reason why the night of the cremà (in which the Fallas monuments burn down) is always on March 19th, the Festivity of San José. In the 18th century, Fallas used to be piles of combustible materials that were called "Fallas" and were burnt the night before the day of San José. These Fallas evolved and acquired a more critical and ironic sense when showing in the monuments reprehensible social scenes. Around 1870, the Fallas celebration was forbidden, as well as Carnival. In 1885 this pressure created a movement that defended typical traditions by awarding in the magazine "LaTraca" the prizes to the best Fallas Monuments. This competition, which began to be popular among different neighborhoods, brought the creation of the artistic Falla, where critique was still an important element together with aesthetics. In 1901 the Ayuntamiento de Valencia awarded local prizes to the best Fallas. This was the beginning of the union between the people and the political power. This relationship has greatly developed this popular festivity in its structure, organization, and size. In 1929 the first poster contest for the promotion of the Festivities and in 1932 the Fallero weekend was established. It what then, when Fallas became the Mayor Festivity of the Region of Valencia. Today, more than seven hundred big and small Fallas are burned in the city of Valencia.
Valencia has a fantastic festival each March called Fallas in which local areas build big papier maché models. They are mostly of a satirical nature and can be as tall as a few stories. Fallas are constructed of smaller figures called ninots, Valencian for "dolls". The fallas take a whole year of planning and construction to complete. Each neighborhood has a falla, but 14 fall into the Sección Especial category and these are the most important, expensive, and impressive. Each falla has an adult falla (mayor) and a kid's falla (infantil). It is best to arrive by 16 March, as all of the fallas are required to be finished or they face disqualification.
Another feature of Fallas is the fireworks. It's like the city's a war zone for a week! They wake you up early in the morning and go on through the day. Every day, there are three fireworks events, la despertà, la mascletà, and el castillo. La despertà occurs every morning at 8 AM in order to wake you up. At 2 PM in the main square of the city, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, there's a thing they call Mascletá. This is 120 kilos of gunpowder translated into a lot of noise. It has to be experienced to be understood. This is very popular and you should arrive an hour in advance at least. Every night between midnight and 1 AM, there is a castillo, a fireworks display. The last night it's called la nit de foc, the night of fire, and this is the most impressive. This is also very crowded and you need to arrive early to be able to see it. Along with these displays, people set off fireworks all day, making it very difficult to catch any sleep.
The days of 17th and 18th of March is La Ofrenda. The falleras from each falla take flowers to the Plaza of the Virgin. These flowers are used to construct the virgin. The processions are grand and very beautiful and worth catching. They follow two main paths: one down calle San Vicente and the other down Calle de Colon.
At the end of a week displaying the 'fallas' they are burnt. This is called la cremà. The fallas infantiles are burned at 10 PM and the fallas mayores are burned anywhere from midnight to 1 AM. The one at the town halls is burned last at 1 AM. The most impressive to see are the fallas in Sección Especial, because these are the largest and most dramatic when they burn. These tend to be very crowded and one should arrive early.
Things one should do during fallas:
- Go around and see the various fallas, but especially the Sección Especial.
- Pay to enter one of the bigger fallas to get a closer look at the individual ninots.
- See la mascletà and the la nit de foc.
- See one of the various parades, especially the ofrenda.
- See the virgin made of flowers.
- Buy churros or buñelos at one of the many stands on the street.
- Go to one of the temporary bar/nightclubs set up on the street and dance all night long.
Things one should be aware of:
- Most of the streets in the city are closed to everything, except pedestrian traffic and it is difficult to get around. The best way to get around is either by walking or taking the public transportation. Driving a car is not a good idea.
- Most of the restaurants are very crowded and some are not open. There is usually very long waits and slow service and you should plan for this in your schedule.
- Most of the hotels are also very crowded and should be booked in advance.
- Many people throw fireworks near pedestrians and its very easy to get burnt or injured.
- Some of the fallas, like Nou Campanar, are well outside the city center and are quite far by foot, it is much easier to take a bus.
- Fallas Museums
If you can't be in Valencia at the time of the festival, you can at least get an idea of what it's all about by visiting one or both the following museums: Museo Fallero, Museo de Artistas Falleros.
There are several city beaches, and three major beaches outside of Valencia.
Playa de Malvarrosa and Playa e Levante o de la arenas are the most popular city beaches, just north of the port. To get there, take the metro or tram to Eugenia Vines or Arenas station, or take the metro to Maritim Serreria and continue with the tram to Neptu (all on one ticket).
El Saler is the nicest and best developed beach near Valencia. Devesa is undeveloped and has nice surroundings. At Devesa and Playa Pinedo, there are nudist sections. These beaches are located south of the port. To reach them, take the Yellow Bus (operated by "Herca") from Calle Alicante near the train station, in direction "Perello". The trip takes about 30 minutes; the bus runs hourly 7 am - 9 pm.
The hot spring is located 90km north of Valencia in a region known for its mountains, deep gorges and scenic nature. The crystalline waters of the lagoon bubble up from the earth at a temperature of 25ºc all year round. This place well known by the locals is still undiscovered by most travelers. The story goes that the hot spring was the preferred bathing and relaxation site for a Moorish king´s harem. The water was said to keep his women young and beautiful. Dip into the water for a swim and explore the lagoon snorkeling, see the fish around you and discover the hidden caves. For the brave, there´s the option to jump off cliffs right into the deepest part of the lagoon.