Falling for Las Fallas

Jillian Gibney is a student at the University of Kentucky and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain

Las Fallas — or as some like to call it, Mardi Gras with arson — is the epitome of what it means to be Valencian. The official days of Las Fallas are the 15th to 19th of March, but in reality Fallas starts the first day of March. Each day is filled with daily Mascletas, which are pyrotechnic shows filled with loud noises and firecrackers, each one costing 10,000 euros. It is hard to miss when each day at 2 p.m. the city is filled with blasts of sound. Sleep is a fantasy as there is noise from fireworks, music, and people 24/7. Throughout the month, firework shops and food trucks pop up around the entire city. My favorites were the churro trucks that were on every street corner. You may have heard of the Freshman 15 but you won’t be prepared for the Fallas 15.

Throughout the month of March, there are men and women walking around in traditional clothing. The women, or the falleras, wear traditional dresses made with gold and silk. Each dress can cost between 2,000 to 10,000 Euros.

Las Falleras

As the days get closer to the 15th, paper mâché sculptures start to appear in every neighborhood. The sculptures consist of ninots, or dolls, to construct a whole falla. The ninots are often making fun of modern characters such as politicans, both Spanish and American, as well as movie characters, and musicians. Each falla has a theme and takes a year to be constructed by sculptors, artists, painters, and other craftsman.

Once Fallas officially starts it is difficult to get anywhere as the streets are filled with Valencians and tourists from all around the world coming to see this spectacle. For the next five days the streets are filled with outdoor discotecas, parades, and children setting off firecrackers with no warning. At night the skies are filled with huge fireworks putting all other firework shows I have seen to shame. On the two days prior to the final day the falleras and falleros parade around the city to the main square where a large statue of the Virgin Mary is covered with flowers.


The final day is the day of La Cremá. This is the day when all of the fallas that have taken a year to make are burned to the ground. The fallas are burnt starting with the infantil fallas, which are the smallest, working their way up to the main neighborhood fallas and then finishing with the largest falla in the main square. With each burning, fireworks are sent off in the sky and then there is a string of dynamite leading up to the falla that goes off immediately afterwards to set the falla in flame. By the next day, the city has erased all signs of Las Fallas and the artisans begin the project of creating their falla for the following year.

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