Find out everything you need to know about Les Falles Festival. Valencia sees more than a million tourists every year to join in on the 5 days of art, fiery celebrations, and satire. So this Les Falles Guide will help you learn how to navigate the chaos, excitement, and the crowds (coming from someone who actually lives here)!
Table of contents
- What is Les Falles Festival?
- When does Valencia celebrate Les Falles?
- What to See — The Main Events
- Other Events during Les Falles Season
- Tips to Enjoy Les Falles Festival Like a Local
- Important Notes for Tourists
- How to plan your trip to see Les Falles
- Extra Resources for Valencia — Les Falles Guide
What is Les Falles Festival?
Les Falles is the biggest celebration in Valencia. It’s a 5-day festival with multi-faceted traditions recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Les Falles originated in the 18th-century as a way to welcome the coming of Spring by burning waste and trash from the winter. Over the next 100 years, these bonfires transformed into more artful and eye-catching displays throughout Valencia and surrounding towns.
By the mid 1800s, Les Falles became a celebration that embraced social criticism. Large wooden monuments were carved and painted to take aim at politicians, social movements, and the upper class.
And while the modern-day Falles Festival has incorporated many other traditions and events – the core sentiment remains the same:
Les Falles criticizes and satirizes society through meticulous and artful displays, just to burn it all down and start the year anew.
So let’s talk more about the modern age of Les Falles. Valencia gets filled with fireworks, constant firecrackers, and an unforgettable atmosphere.
Note: You’ll see this Valencian festival called “Les Falles” and “Las Falles”. Les Falles is the official name in Valencian, while Las Fallas is the Spanish translation. Considering Les Falles originated in (and is only celebrated in) Valencia, we’ll stick to the official name.
When does Valencia celebrate Les Falles?
The official dates for Les Falles are from March 15th until March 19th. The festival ends at midnight going into March 20th. This is when the 100+ monuments throughout the city are set on fire.
However, if you come to Valencia in February, you’ll already start to see the first preparations for the festival. So even though the official dates of Les Falles are for 5 days, Valencia is in “Falles season” for about a month.
Note: This applies only to the city of Valencia. Other towns throughout the Valencian Country will host their own Falles festival, some with slight variations in the dates.
What to See — The Main Events
Now let’s get to the exciting parts of this Falles Guide. There are TONS of events packed into these 5 days. So let’s go over the can’t-miss activities.
Naturally, the most important part of the Valencia festival – Les Falles themselves. A Falla (singular) refers to the enormous monument and scene that gets set up in the street.
So the most important thing to do during the festival is to go around and admire all of the Falles (plural).
A neighborhood organization designs, manages, crafts, and sets up these displays. Alternatively, some associations will pay an artist to do so in their name. So some smaller organizations will create more humble Falles, while some of the big names will invest a lot of money to create building-sized works of art.
You’ll see Falles practically everywhere throughout the city. As a general rule, the most important ones to see are on these squares/streets:
- Misser Mascó (Exposició)
- Convent de Jerusalem
- Cuba/Literat Azorín
- Sueca/Literat Azorín
- Na Jordana
- Monestir de Poblet (L’Antiga de Campanar)
- Plaça del Pilar
- Regne de València
These are typically the neighborhood organizations that end up in the “Special Section”. So they tend to be the most dramatic and impressive.
This next celebration is just as emblematic as Les Falles themselves.
La Mascletà is a daytime firecracker show that goes off every day at 2pm at the Plaça de l’Ajuntament.
Unlike Les Falles monuments, which are a visual art, La Mascletà is purely auditory.
Gunpowder runs through Valencians’ veins, and it’s a key element to the festival. Mascletaes are the ultimate expression of this love for gunpowder.
This art form features firecracker explosions rhythmically getting louder and louder, lasting around 10 minutes. They’re so loud they can be heard from anywhere in the city.
It’s like standing right in front of the speakers at your favorite concert. You head to the city center, wait for the start, and then listen to the beat of the show. Because if you pay attention, it’s not random – it’s a musically orchestrated series of explosions.
So if you want to feel the essence of Les Falles vibrate through you – don’t miss your chance to experience it at the Town Hall Square or the surrounding streets. And don’t worry if you don’t have a fantastic view – there’s nothing to see, anyway.
Pro tip: Aim to get there at least 15 minutes early (or an hour earlier if you want to get up close). It will be insanely crowded, so you’ll need time to weave your way in and out.
This is a relatively new addition to Les Falles.
L’Ofrena means “The Offering”. Here, you’ll see women (Les Falleres) and men (Els Fallers) in traditional dresses marching from their neighborhood to the Plaça de la Mare de Déu.
For two days, thousands of people march to provide an offering of flowers to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary (the patron saint of Valencia). As they offer up their bouquet, artisans climb up to place the flowers on her cape.
After two days of constant marching, the entire square is completely packed with flowers. An enormous statue of the Virgin Mary sits in the center, with a decorated flower cape that is truly impressive.
For many people celebrating, this flower offering is one of the most emotional events of Les Falles.
Valencia’s biggest festival is not religious. It’s a free-thinking, socially-critical celebration. However, after Valencia fell to a dictatorship for 40 years – the city added some religious aspects that still remain part of the holiday.
This means that L’Ofrena is a bit controversial. But regardless, it is worth seeing as its current performance is another display of art and celebration.
La Nit del Foc
La Nit del Foc usually takes place on March 18th, late at night. It means “The Night of Fire”, and for good reason.
The city hosts the biggest fireworks display of the year.
So if you want to see some fireworks, this is absolutely the one to check out. They are fired off from the Túria Gardens, so you’ll be able to see them from several places throughout the city, including the City of Arts and Sciences.
And when I say these are big fireworks – I mean this is probably the biggest fireworks show you’ll ever see.
Seriously. It makes the 4th of July look like some rookie, backyard entertainment.
La Calvalcada del Foc
The “Fire Parade” is the prelude to the end of Les Falles. Valencia shows off their pyrotechnic skills with one more parade before the end of the festival.
This parade typically takes place on Carrer de Colom, Russafa, and the Porta del Mar, although it can change every year.
People dress up as demons, monsters, and mythical creatures. They march down the street putting on an incredible show. With fire breathing, sparks, smoke, and huge floats – it’s an exciting way to head towards the end of the festival.
After 5 days of art, festivities, and celebration – Les Falles comes to a smoldering end. La Cremà means “The Burning”.
Artisans spend hundreds of hours throughout the entire year to design, craft, and set up their masterpiece. Just to see it all burnt to cinders on the night of March 19th.
La Cremà symbolizes the end of a cycle. By burning down the critiques of the last year, you welcome in a brighter Spring.
It’s an exciting and emotional time – both for the artists and the spectators. The entire city is lit on fire and the chaos comes to an end.
It’s the most important event of Les Falles festival. Valencia returns to normal the morning after, leaving a lingering smell of smoke, gunpowder, and churros.
So if you plan on visiting Valencia for Les Falles – make sure you stay through until the 20th to fully appreciate the heat and emotion of the holiday.
Other Events during Les Falles Season
So all the previous activities were the ones you can’t miss if you’re coming to Valencia. Les Falles, however, has a ton of events, and those were the most important ones.
Starting mid-February, the city starts gearing up for those all-important 5 days of partying.
So if you want a full Falles experience, here are some other events to look into:
Personally, this is one of my favorite Falles activities. Although most tourists don’t get to see it.
La Crida means “The Calling” in Valencian. It’s the official announcement to Valencians around the world that Les Falles has begun.
The Fallera Major, the “Falles Queen”, stands on top of the Torres dels Serrans and gives a passionate speech declaring the opening of the season. This is accompanied by a lightshow, music, and an open-street party on top of the medieval bridge and towers.
This typically happens on the last Sunday of February. So most tourists don’t get to see it because there are still two weeks until the 5 days of main events.
But if you plan to live in Valencia long-term, or you get a chance to see both – I highly recommend it!
L’Exposición del Ninot
This is another fun pre-Falles event to check out. Each Falla creates one small(er) piece of their monument that serves as a representation of their entire masterpiece.
This piece is called “El Ninot” (The Doll/Toy). Artists gather up the ninots and put them on display at La Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències.
So head to the science museum, spend €3, and get a quick summary of this year’s art. You get to see a small piece of the puzzle and get an idea of the topics for this year’s Falles.
The reason the ninot is so important: one single ninot will be spared from the flames during La Cremà.
The winning Falla gets the honor of having the Ninot Indultat (The pardoned ninot).
Naturally, the exhibition is only open before the main events. So if you’re in the city in February or early March, make sure to go see it!
PS – If you want to see all of the Ninots Indultats throughout history – head to the Falles Museum across the street from the City of Arts and Sciences! It’s one of my favorite things to do in the city!
All of the streets in the city are decorated with tons of lights. This makes the entire atmosphere even more magical in the city of Valencia.
Les Falles gives us plenty of opportunities to enjoy the light shows!
In the past, some neighborhoods would set up enormous light shows – like the ones pictured above.
However, the city banned most of them. Too many people would gather in small squares, and since there wasn’t enough organization – it become a safety hazard.
So while the enormous light shows aren’t allowed, all the streets still have plenty of decorations to check out.
Simultaneously one of the most hated and loved aspects of Les Falles.
Les revetles (or las verbenas in Spanish) are giant parties that take place in the street. As you’re walking through the city, you’ll see music stages everywhere.
And at night, these stages turn into an outdoor venue until 4 in the morning.
So if you want to head out and party – this is the perfect opportunity to get an adrenaline rush. But if you’re trying to get some beauty sleep …
Well, make sure you bring ear plugs.
Tips to Enjoy Les Falles Festival Like a Local
Let’s talk about some ways you can make the most of this Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Because even though there is a lot of chaos in Valencia, Les Falles is a festival filled with tradition. So here is some advice to enjoy this fire festival like the locals do.
Source: Me. I’ve lived here since 2018, I’m married to a Valencian, and all my friends are locals.
Indulge in a Xocolatà
You can’t celebrate Les Falles without a classic xocolatà. Loosely translated as “Chocolate Party”, this is your perfect excuse to enjoy chocolate and typical Valencian treats.
Most Valencians will get together with their family or friends at some point to have a meal centered around hot chocolate. Because unlike some cities in Spain, Valencia enjoys their hot chocolate almost exclusively in Les Falles.
Valencian hot chocolate is very thick (you’ll want a spoon). You eat it with:
- Xurros – Fried dough coated with sugar (no cinnamon!)
- Bunyols – Fried pumpkin dough
- Figues Albardades – Deep fried figs
- Coca de Llanda – A typical Valencian poundcake
- Valencianes – A flat, elongated muffin from Valencia
Just dip your desserts of choice in the hot chocolate, and now you’ve experienced your first xocolatà!
You can take part at any point during the holiday. My husband’s family always does it on the 19th, which is Sant Josep and Father’s Day in Valencia. So they get all of the celebrations done on the same day with a big xocolatà!
Join the party
If you’re coming to Valencia for Les Falles, you need to be prepared for constant, high-energy activities.
You’ll see people setting off fireworks, large crowds, street bands, plenty of parades and marches…
… and the revetles (the nighttime street parties). In other words – Valencia gets quite loud.
Which means that in Falles – you have to adopt a Valencian mentality:
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
If you get unlucky with the sound insulation in your hotel, you can either get a bad night’s sleep or just join the party.
Either way, you’ll be tired the next day. But if you join in on the party – at least you’ll make some unforgettable memories!
Start your day early
If you want to skip the crowds and see Les Falles without as much chaos – then your only option is to get up early.
Head out around 7am and you’ll get a good chance to see the artworks without as much chaos.
By 10 or 11, the streets are already packed again.
So the earlier you start – the better.
Plus, you can always just enjoy a little nap in the middle of the day if you’re tired (my personal favorite tradition).
Bring the right clothes
Unfortunately, Les Falles takes place in one of the most unpredictable months for weather.
Sometimes it’s sunny and 25 C / 77 F. Other times it’s rainy and 10 C / 50 F.
So for March, I suggest bringing both some lighter clothes and a good jacket just in case. The most likely scenario is that you’ll need a coat for the early morning and at night, then you’ll start pulling off layers towards the middle of the day.
Book restaurants in advance
As I mentioned, Valencia sees an enormous amount of tourism for Les Falles. Valencia ends up almost doubling in size, which means you’ll want to book early.
And that counts for restaurants, too.
If you plan on eating anywhere in the city center that isn’t a takeaway place – you’ll need to make a reservation.
You can read my recommendations for restaurants in the city if you want to get a head start!
Important Notes for Tourists
Now let’s go over a few crucial things you need to know about Les Falles. Valencia’s fire festival has a ton of different elements to it, so you need to be informed about what’s to be expected, what’s acceptable, and how to make the most of it.
So here are some extra things you need to know about Les Falles:
Known as “The Wakening”. This happens every day at 8am. Marching bands and firecrackers wake people up and start a new day of festivities.
Which means if you were out until 4 am partying (or being annoyed) with the revetles, La Despertà might not be your favorite element of the holiday.
If you’re in the city center, there’s a good chance you’ll hear this. But if you’re further away, you might not be graced by its presence.
Feel free to roll back asleep if you need to. But just be aware that at 8am – yes, it is completely normal to hear a marching band and firecrackers.
I believe this is the most important consideration for Les Falles.
Even though there is a lot of craziness, partying, and excitement – don’t be that guy.
Remember that there are still people living their daily lives and going to work.
Especially the city maintenance workers who coordinate an enormous effort to keep the city clean amidst all the drunken partiers behaving like animals.
So here’s a few ways you can enjoy Les Falles and engage in more sustainable tourism:
- Make sure to recycle. Valencia makes it VERY easy to recycle, there are color-coded and labeled bins everywhere.
- Do not touch Les Falles.
- Be respectful with firecrackers – throw them away from people, and never into crowds.
- Don’t get plastered.
Book Well in Advance
If you want to book accommodation for Les Falles – you’ll want to do it FAR in advance. I’d suggest doing so in July of the year prior. And earlier, if possible.
Accommodations sell out incredibly fast, so plan as far in advance as possible.
If you’re looking for hotels, I recommend looking on Booking. You usually have the option to pay closer to the actual date, so you can still plan in advance.
For hostels, I recommend looking into HostelWorld for reliable accommodations.
Les Falles is FREE
As a festival, it is 100% free to visit, enjoy the ambiance, and take part in celebrations.
So even though there are paid options for some events, you don’t need to pay for anything other than food and drink.
For example, some Falles associations will charge a “donation” to get a closer look at their Falla. But this is 100% optional (and something I’ve personally never done). You can just walk around the perimeter and still appreciate the artwork.
I mean, some of these monuments are as tall as buildings. You can stand a few feet away and still enjoy them.
There are also paid options to go to some rooftops during les mascletaes. Personally, I wouldn’t suggest this either, unless you’re going for the extra perks (like food service, etc). La Mascletà is a sound-based activity, so you don’t need to get a good “view”.
So don’t feel obligated to pay for anything that isn’t food, drink, or lodging during the festival.
The Festival Is Satirical and Critical – But Not Perfect
The actual artworks are supposed to be satirical.
That’s because each one represents a social critique. So you’ll see big caricatures of public figures and current events.
Even the ones that aren’t obviously satirical will usually have an underlying message.
However, there are generally 3 types of Falles:
So besides the social critiques, you’ll also see some that depict traditional Valencian scenes and culture. Likewise, you’ll see a few without any deeper meaning, and are just supposed to be humorous.
The “funny” ones can be problematic. You’ll still see some racist caricatures – often towards Native Americans, Asians, and Arab cultures.
There’s almost always a couple Falles that make me go – Seriously?! A team of artists spent a year on this and no one said anything?!
While it is a minority of the Falles, they do exist still.
So even though Les Falles are supposed to be a form of calling for social progress… well, some artists aren’t exactly progressive.
The casals are private
One quick note. Something you’ll see spread throughout Valencia – Les Falles Casals.
These are either going to be large tents or marked-off streets with lots of chairs and tables set up.
These belong to private groups, the neighborhood Falles associations. The tent or area they set up is called a Casal.
Unless you are a member, you can’t participate or join in, as all these people paid dues throughout the year to take part.
Of course, if you know someone – they can invite you in. But don’t go wandering into these tents and fenced-off areas by yourself.
How to plan your trip to see Les Falles
Let’s get on to the last part of our guide to Les Falles.
Valencia becomes a completely different city during this holiday, so we need to be more specific when planning your visit.
Here is some practice advice on budgeting, accommodations, and transport while you’re in the city.
For 5 nights during Les Falles, here’s what you should budget for:
- Accommodation (budget travelers): Around €80-200
- Accommodation (mid budget): Around €450-700
- Accommodation (luxury): €1000+
- Food & Drink: €40 per person, per day for 1 big meal, hotel breakfast, and some snacks.
- Public Transport: €8 for the week
Overall, it depends a bit on your travel style.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re a couple that stays in an average hotel (with breakfast) just outside the center. You also want at least one good meal per day, as well as some coffee or snacks. You’ll also want to spend some time enjoying the nightlife.
In that case, you should probably budget for at least €1,000 for those 5 days (in total, as a couple).
But naturally, if you eat out at fancier restaurants, you go for a more central location, and prefer taking taxis – then this can go up.
However, you can budget lower if you go for hostels or supermarket meals. So it really depends on what your priorities are.
Plus, you’ll need to factor in flights. This varies greatly depending on where you’re flying in from. I suggest going to my Valencia flight guide to find the best deals.
Where to stay
If you’re coming for Les Falles, Valencia looks completely different from it normally does.
And because of how hectic the city can become, I actually don’t recommend staying in the city center unless you are planning for 5 days of nightlife.
For most travelers, I recommend looking into some hotels that are outside the Ciutat Vella. The historic center becomes incredibly crowded, so it’s hard to get to your hotel (or sleep well). Plus, don’t even think about driving through the city – it’s 100% impossible.
So, specifically for Les Falles, I recommend staying in these neighborhoods (in order of preference):
- Les Tendetes
- El Cabanyal
I recommend these areas because they are slightly more relaxed (comparatively). And except for the last two, they’re still quite close to the city center.
But remember, there are Falles everywhere in the city. In other words, you can still get unlucky and get a party right in the street below you. Although most of the hotels in these neighborhoods are newer, which means they likely have better sound insulation, too.
How to get around
To be fair, it can be really difficult to get around Valencia during Les Falles.
Many streets are completely shut off, and others are jam-packed with people.
If you are able to, try to get around on foot. And when you’re tired of walking, take the metro instead.
Remember to have some patience, as there will be fairly large crowds. So just take in the sights, embrace the chaos, and plan to need more time than what Google Maps is telling you!
Extra Resources for Valencia — Les Falles Guide
That’s it for my comprehensive guide to Les Falles! Valencia transforms into an exciting, lively, and unforgettable city during this festival.
In my (slightly biased) opinion, this UNESCO-recognized Intangible Cultural Heritage is one of those must-have bucket list items.
It’s truly something you just have to experience to understand.
So come to Valencia for Les Falles with an open mind and embrace the chaos.
If you need more help planning your trip, just reach out! I’m always happy to help.
And if you want to keep doing more research, here are some resources to help you out:
- Best flight deals for Valencia
- How to get mobile data in Spain
- Valencia neighborhood guide
- How to book cheap accommodations
- How to get to the city from the airport
In Valencia, Les Falles is always celebrated from March 15th—19th. Although there are other festivities earlier in March, the main part of the holiday takes place during these 5 days.
Valencia is a very safe city overall. Due to bigger crowds during Les Falles, it’s advisable to be cautious of pickpocketing, although it isn’t a major problem compared to other European cities.
It is 100% free to visit Les Falles. There are paid options to get more exclusive views, but you can completely enjoy the festival without spending money on anything but food and lodging.
Yes! More than a million people visit the city during Les Falles. You can expect dense crowding.
The things to do in Valencia during Les Falles are: See the Falles monuments, listen to a mascletà, enjoy the nightlife, watch the Ofrena, see the fireworks and the cremà, and eat bunyols!
Yes, absolutely. Les Falles should definitely be a bucket-list item that you have to experience for yourself!
People participating in Falles activities will wear traditional dress. Men and women each have traditional outfits (called Faller or Fallera outfits).
Need help planning your trip to Valencia?
Here are the tools I use for the cheapest (and most reliable) vacation planning:
- 🏠Booking – Affordable hotels and apartments
- 🏠Hostel World – Safe and budget-friendly hostels
- ✈️Skyscanner – My favorite tool for cheap flights
- 🚗Discover Cars – Best place for car rentals
- 🚄Trainline – The easiest way to book local trains in advance
- 📶Airalo – eSim cards for easy internet access while traveling
- 🦺Safety Wing – The #1 travel medical insurance
- 💸Airhelp – Cancelled flight compensation (it’s free!)
- 💱Wise – Easiest low-fee way to transfer currency
Affiliate disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. These are links to services I personally recommend using for your trip to Valencia. At no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission from these brands if you choose to make a purchase. Your support helps me pay my bills and eat more bunyols!