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Fallas in Valencia

If you're about to embark on your Erasmus journey in Valencia, try to come during the second semester or for the whole year so you don't miss out on the Fallas (a famous festival)!

Before coming to Valencia, and when I started asking about this city, everyone I spoke to told me about the Fallas. And every time I asked what it was, they told me it was something I had to experience that can't be explained. Now that I've finally experienced the Fallas, I can give my opinion on it and try to tell you a little about it because it's something I still haven't got my head round completely although they've explained it to me about it thousands of times. To truly find out what it's all about, you should come to Valencia and experience it for yourself. It normally takes place in March and this year it took place from 15th to 19th March.

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The Fallas is the most important event in Valencia. It's celebrated thanks to all the falleros (people who are involved in the event). Most of them participate by dressing up as gentlemen and falleras (ladies) with their long dresses from the olden days, their earrings and elegant shoes and they all get their hair done. It's very common for them to sleep for at least 3 nights to be able to be the best they can during the 4 days of the Fallas. The most surprising thing of the event was that the ladies even came with their buggies, and their children were also dressed up for the Fallas. There were also little girls who are called falleras infantiles.

All the participants go through the city representing the Falla they belong to, which is divided up by the city. Each Falla has a statue to build and it takes a whole year to make it. You can only display them on the day of the Fallas. All the streets in the historic centre are cut off, as the vast majority of the Fallas (statues) are put there. The streets in the Ruzafa district are also cut off because every one or two blocks has a different Falla, with churros stalls (that's very typical during the Fallas), fast food stalls and a horchata stall so that the tourists can try the typical food and drinks from Valencia. Horchata is a rice-based drink blended with nuts.

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The Fallas statues aren't only in the historic centre and the Ruzafa district, but also on the outskirts of the historic centre, and even going towards the beach. However, these Fallas are more spread out and they're not part of the "EXTRA" category (which is the best category).

In order not to miss out on the most important Fallas, you should look them up on the Internet to see which Fallas fall under the EXTRA category and under the first category (which are also very pretty). With only 4 days of the Fallas, you won't have time to see all the Fallas statues in Valencia, that's why it really helped me to look up the main ones online so I would at least see those ones.

During the whole Fallas festival, there are public holidays, where no one in Valencia works as it's a bank holiday. However, you mustn't be misled by the joy and happiness in the city and keep an eye on your belongings because pickpockets take advantage of crowds of people who gather during the Fallas to start stealing.

During the Fallas festival, "everything goes". Everyone drinks alcohol in the streets and the police don't say anything. Bike lanes are always taken up by people walking who don't know that bikes are supposed to pass by. There's no exact time for things, only the main events which take place, such as the fireworks (called castillos in Spain). They go off every night during the whole Fallas festival, although in different places and every night at a later time, and obviously during the crema of all the Fallas, including the winning statue (which is chosen at the beginning of the festival so that people have time to see it). The crema is the name of the burning of all the Fallas. The crema of all the Fallas takes place as a tradition, a meaningful event where all the bad things from the past are eliminated and you can start with a clean slate, a new beginning. The best area to see the crema is in the area where there are many statues, to be able to see the burning of many different statues whilst walking around the city after having seen the first Falla you chose to see be burnt.

The Falla which no one can miss watching, although it gets packed, is the crema of the Falla at the town hall. This Falla doesn't participate in the competition with the rest of them but it's quite big, although not very pretty in my opinion. But it's the last Falla to be burnt, and after burning them, the fireworks go off.

To keep up to date with all the events going on during the Fallas festival, such as when the fireworks go off, the time of the crema and any more information, I recommend looking on the Internet every day. Also, in the last days of the Fallas, they carry a wooden statue of the virgin to the Plaza de la Virgen (a famous square), which is in the historic centre in Valencia. The first couple of days, you'll only see the wooden frame which holds the virgin, but the idea is that all the falleros and falleras (men and women) participating in the Fallas, go to see the virgin and leave flowers there. They will also put some of them on the dress she wears so that the virgin can hold them all. They all leave flowers around the square, because as there are so many, they don't all fit in her dress. This show is very nice to watch, even when they've finished decorating the virgin with flowers. This statue isn't burnt along with the rest of the Fallas, but is kept in the square for a few more days for the tourists to go and see.

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After these 4 days of the Fallas festival, as there are so many people in the streets, it makes you want to start to relax and get away from the crowds. I guess it depends on the person if you're going to enjoy the whole Fallas festival as it's very intense, whether or not there's a crowd in every corner. But it's an event which you can't miss out on in Valencia!


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