Spanish fiestas are legendary.
These events encompass everything, from music festivals to traditional Saint’s Day celebrations.
The antics are wild, the Sangria is flowing, and people from all over the world are getting down in the middle of it all.
So what’s the party pinnacle of springtime?
Las Fallas Bonfire Festival takes the cake as the most raucous of them all.
Ready for the details?
Read on to discover the past behind this famous fire, and figure out how to keep your candle burning all week long.
The Story Behind Las Fallas Bonfire Festival
The history of Las Fallas is widely debated.
People do seem to agree that the celebration is held in honor of St. Joseph, though its origins go back much further.
During medieval winters, tradesman like carpenters were forced to work by the light of candles for lack of natural sunlight.
They used wooden holders to keep the candles in place, which they called pirots. As the spring came and the sun reemerged, the whole city would celebrate.
The tradesmen and artisans would burn their pirots, and it became a sort of party for the beginning of spring and warm weather.
When the Catholic church took control of Spain, they choose to combine the festival with a celebration of St. Joseph.
Over time, the festival evolved. People began creating special pirots to burn, which took on human form and became larger and larger.
Eventually, the pirots were separated into two classes: larger ones, known as fallas, and the smaller ninot.
Today, the Fallas Bonfire Festival is a combination of traditions culminating in the burning of thousands of these effigies.
It was designated with UNESCO Intangible Heritage status in 2016.
3 Things to Expect at the Las Fallas Bonfire Festival
This gigantic festival overtakes the city from the 1st of March, but the main celebrations last from March 15th through the 19th.
This is what you can expect to see.
1. Burning the Fallas
People spend months creating the beautiful fallas. One of the best parts of the festival is seeing the care and dedication that goes in to each one before it is set ablaze.
A falla may be modeled after anything or anyone. It’s all fair game during the Valencia fire. Many of them are satirical, representative of current political figures and the like.
The festival culminates in la crema— the cream. During this time, all the fallas and ninots are burned. People gather from every corner of Valencia under the town hall to witness the burning of the dominating ayuntamiento falla.
2. The Parades and the Parties
The festival isn’t just about the burn. Parades sweep through the city carrying flowers, fireworks and people dressed in rich traditional garb.
There are giant fireworks shows at night, and during the day special auditory fireworks called mascletas. These are hung in the main plaza and set off daily, accompanied by acrobats performing impossible feats.
People agree that Las Fallas is the noisiest of all the Spanish festivals, and it can be quite intimidating on the street surrounding the main square. Be prepared to absorb some major sound waves.
3. Special Events
Many special events take place during Las Fallas. Valencia is alive and thriving during this time, and there is much bustling activity as the city pulses with life.
One emotional event is the offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary. This is a giant 2-day long parade which ends up in the main plaza in front of the statue of the Virgin.
Here, the women offer their flowers to the virgin. As more and more women participate, the pile of flowers at the foot of the virgin gets higher and higher.
There are parties in the clubs all night long, delicious food in the streets, and contests of all sorts to participate in.
Many events are online, but some of them you won’t know about until you get there. That’s just further motivation to buy your ticket.
Planning Your trip to Las Fallas Bonfire Festival
Expect dancing. Expect singing. Expect smoke.
Las Fallas Bonfire Festival doesn’t hold back, and neither should you.
However, there are practicalities to consider. Las Fallas is the biggest festival in Valencia, and that means lots of people.
No matter where you stay, hotels and hostels are going to be more expensive during this time. It’s a good idea to book a few months ahead of time to ensure your place.
Keep in mind that public transportation will not be running as normal because many streets will be closed for the parades. Take this into account when deciding where to go for your evening fiesta.
Las Fallas Bonfire Festival will Satiate Your Desire for a Good Fiesta
Of all the festivals in Spain, Las Fallas Bonfire Festival is probably the craziest.
But that’s ok, we know you’re up for it.
So go ahead and start planning your trip into the fiery abyss of the Valencia streets because the beginning of spring is coming faster than you think.