Several weekends ago, I experienced the most “Spain” thing yet. It included large artistic creations, marching bands, food trucks and alcohol. It culminated with fire. Much like Burning Man, everything had to be burned. Hence, why Las Fallas are known as the festival of fire in Spain. The festival happens every March in Valencia, Spain, and this year I was lucky enough to go.
What is a falla?
Well I’m so glad you asked! A falla is a life-size artistic masterpiece. It can literally be of anything. It’s supposed to represent things you want to forget from the past year or really just whatever the artist wanted to do. Donald Trump was a part of at least three different fallas that I saw, if that tells you anything. Each 4-way intersection had a falla and many of the roads were blocked off. There are over 600 child and adult fallas throughout Valencia.
The festival is loosely connected to an old pagan holiday, according to enforex.com. It was believed to have started around the year 1497. Back in those times, people who worked with their hands had to work by the light of oil lamps. As spring approached, they no longer had to work as such as the days got longer and brighter. So they decided to just burn it all to celebrate! After the tradition initially started, it became all about having fun. They painted all kinds of crazy things on the food that would then go up in flames.
Where I stayed
A festival weekend in any city is crazy, of course. It’s always advisable to book your accommodation in advance. I booked my hostel in December. One of my friends stayed at the same hostel and some of my friends split and airbnb.
I stayed at the Urban Youth Hostel, which is very close to the beach. It’s less close to the center of the city, which is where all the action is. However Valencia has a great metro system that I took right into the center of the city each day! It was maybe 5-6 stops and a total of 15 minutes. Not too shabby for a large city!
The hostel was perfect! Each bed had it’s own curtain that you could raise or lower. Each bed also had it’s own outlet, which is perfect to charge your phone after a long day of exploring the city. There were also spacious lockers that you activated with your key. So no worries about your things getting messed with while staying in the dorm room. You just put them in your locker and go enjoy the festival of fire in Spain!
The hostel had a bar and restaurant inside. The upside is that I never had to go far for my morning coffee or if I was hungry in general. The downside was that it took away from the hostel vibes. I love a hostel with a good common area that’s just for the people staying in the hostel. People seem to meet more if there is a good common area.
Time spent at the beach
Of course you cannot go to Valencia without spending some time by the beach. Even though it was too cold to actually get in and swim, we just enjoyed our time sitting around and drinking sangria.
The beach in Valencia is called Playa Marvillosa. It’s not to be missed.
Here we all are beachside. Big thanks to Shola and her selfie stick for making this shot possible. We are missing our lovely friend Eman here, who was also a part of our group this weekend. And yes, my sunglasses are hearts. I think I’ve decided my life goal is to be a living emoji.
The fallas and lights
Oh this is the best part. Just imaging all the work that went into each masterpiece. The ideas, the planning and the execution. And it seemed like if you just moved to another side of the falla, you saw a whole new side of it.
This part is the most fun … and the most perplexing. They spend all this time on these fallas … months and months of work. And then they burn them. The way they burn them is cool too. They start by setting off fire works and then those fireworks catch the falla on fire. Then you simply watch it all burn!
If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw several videos of the stuff burning. It was epic.
My tips for Las Fallas
- You will hear fireworks and people just randomly throw fireworks on the street. Be vigilant. You may have to step aside a few times.
- Have your camera or phone fully charged. You will want to photograph everything.
- Plan alternative routes. My friend and I got stuck trying to get to our friends’ airbnb. Why? There was a light show at the falla by where they were staying. The crowd was too thick, so we just had to stop. Had we thought about it, we would have walked around the block.
- Comfortable shoes and warm clothing! Mid-March means warm days and cool nights. Be sure you are warm!
I hope you can make it to Las Fallas one year! It is not to be missed!