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Things to do in Valencia Spain During Las Fallas

Things to do in Valencia during Las Fallas
We could sense a festival in the air as we touched down and set out to explore all the things to do in Valencia Spain. Colorful flags led the way to the giant papier-mâché sculptures that are the hallmark of Las Fallas, Valencia's Festival of Fire.

Eat Buñuelos

We stopped for a Las Fallas festival treat of buñuelos, deep fried dough flavored with pumpkin. A festive bakery invited us in. We saw teams of workers stringing firecrackers in fenced off enclosures.  Looks like we would be in for a noisy night! We dropped our bags off at the Hotel Silken Puerta Valencia and headed out to explore the historic old town.
Things to do in Valencia during Las Fallas: Eat Buñuelos

Mercado Colón

Sculptures with clean smooth lines dotted the bridges over the river-turned-park. The dried-up riverbed in Valencia City Centre was re-purposed into a gorgeous green space. In the distance, we could see Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencia.  More on that later. Wrought iron lampposts added atmosphere to the thoroughfare. We stopped outside the gorgeous modernisma market, Mercado Colón. Continuing on, we were tempted by more deep fried treats, this time chocolate filled churros.

Valencia’s Bullfighting Ring and the Train Station

The bull fighting ring was a popular destination for visitors to Valencia City Center. The train station was worth a visit even though we didn't have any train travel planned. The interior was lined with ornate mosaics framed by dark wood. Our trip to Valencia was off to an enjoyable start.
Things to do in Valencia Spain - Visit the Bullfighting Ring

Valencia’s Mercat Central

Things to do in Valencia during Las Fallas - Visit Mercat Central

Valencia's central market (mercado central in Spanish, mercat central in Catalan) was a feast for the senses. Mounds of fresh produce of every type imaginable were on display. A beautiful tiled dome towered over the market floor. We wandered the aisles past spicy sausage, fresh fruit, odd mushrooms, and plenty of sweets.  We bought a piece of almond and pumpkin cake for later. Piles of peppery spices overflowed from large sacks. Colorful shutters keep out the hot sun.
Mushrooms at Mercat Central in Valencia Spain

Explore Valencia’s Historic Center

We exited Valencia’s Mercat Central and wound our way through the narrow streets of Valencia's historic center. We spotted a lazy pup taking a siesta. We wandered into an atmospheric liquor store and picked up a bottle of local wine; a mix of temperanillo, syrah, and garnacha. Outside, we heard musicians playing in an impromptu parade. We finished our afternoon stroll with lunch at a sun drenched table.  We enjoyed traditional paella and a delightful chicken salad. We saw an amazing array of street art on our walks in Valencia. A perfect afternoon!

Puerta de la Mar in Valencia Spain

El Jardin del Turia

We started our day in Valencia at Bar la Esquina for buñuelos and a cup full of chocolate to dip them in.  Heavenly! Fueled by sugar, oil, and caffeine, we proceeded to walk along El Jardín del Turia set on the dried up riverbed. A space-aged children's park rose in the distance. We ducked under an overpass fitted with a series of screaming hawk heads.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Did you know that a trip to Valencia can easily be combined with Palma de Mallorca? There are direct flights between the two places and lots of awesome things to do in Palma once you get there.

Valencia’s Ciudad de Las Artes y Ciencias

We emerged on the other side at Ciudad de Las Artes y Ciencias. The architecture was blindingly white, futuristic, and cool. We strolled through an open-air canopy and a garden of palms. The structure of the science museum seemed to undulate in the sun. We admired Puente de l'Assut de l'Or, a bridge by Santiago Calatrava, the famed architect who also designed the Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin. We crossed the bridge to leave Ciudad de Las Artes y Ciencias and went in search of something to eat.

Things to do in Valencia Spain - Visit Ciudad de Las Artes y Ciencias

Eat a Menu del Dia

We stopped in to Agora Restaurant to enjoy their Menu del Dia al fresco. We started with generous portions of paella. This was quickly followed by sea bass and beef in puff pastry. A light dessert followed:  pineapple with crushed nuts and strawberries with a touch of condensed milk. Perfecto!
Things to do in Valencia Spain - eat paella

Indulge in Las Fallas Festival Treats

We found lots of great treats all over Valencia for Las Fallas.  Horchateria El Collado was selling freshly made buñuelos by the dozen. I stepped in for a closer look at the operation. We also enjoyed some non-traditional cuisine.  After two days of deep fried, oil laden cuisine, the Italian food at Casa Nostra da Saverio was a welcome change of pace.  We ate our pizza and pesto-coated pasta indoors with countless firecrackers going off outside; a cacophonous soundtrack. Time to gear up for La Crema the burning of Las Fallas on the last day of the festival.

Ofrenda de Las Flores

Ofrenda de Las Flores is a tradition at Las Fallas.  The parade starts near Puerta de la Mar in Valencia and proceeds to Plaza de La Virgen.  Locals dress up in colorful traditional finery and parade through the streets carrying bouquets of flowers. The flowers are used to construct an enormous offering to the Virgin Mary in the center of the plaza.  The women tossed their bouquets at the base and workers scaled the structure to weave the flowers into a spectacularly robed float. The square itself was simply covered in flowers. We went back the next day to survey the final offering. Positively amazing!
Things to do in Valencia Spain in March during Las Fallas - watch the Ofrenda de las Flores parade

Witness La Cream, the Finale of Las Fallas

Here is the essence of the finale of the Las Fallas festival in Valencia.  In a matter of minutes, works of political satire across Valencia go up in flames until all that is left is smoldering ash. Spectacular artistic creations gone from dust to dust.  Las Fallas ends each year with La Crema, a spectacular extravaganza of sights and sounds throughout the Valencia City Centre. We saw an amazing array of Fallas - there are over 300 in all.  Each neighborhood hires an artist to bring their vision to life.  Subject-matter ranges from political to satire to sexy.
Things to do in Valencia Spain during Las Fallas

We staked out a spot on El Pont d'Aragó to watch an amazing fireworks show. Neighborhoods went over the top to draw people in. One of the neighborhoods even had a petting zoo for the kiddies adjacent to their falla! Valencia was lit up like Christmas.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other awesome festivals to check out in Europe? Here are some of my top picks.

We cautiously enjoyed the brilliant displays while being careful to avoid revellers with firecrackers.  I was stunned to see parents handing their 4 year old children firecrackers to light off.  They seemed to celebrate after each 'boom' - Yay, baby's first firework!  Scary...  The small firecrackers weren't so bad.  The bigger M80s were truly alarming.  At one point, we were walking down a residential street and a man darted out from behind a garbage bin.  He pointed his hand at us in an urgent gesture that seemed to say 'move back!'.  We covered our ears and huddled up.  It's a good thing we did because 10 seconds later what felt like a huge explosion shook our bodies.  My ears even rang for a few seconds afterward.  Not cool, people...  We stayed on the more well-traveled streets from there on out but it was difficult to avoid the locals setting off their fireworks.

Each full-sized falla had a corresponding children's falla.  They burned these creations earlier than the big ones (~10 pm).  We weren't sure what to expect as we lined up to watch. The whole thing was doused in lighter fluid and the lights were dimmed.  We expected a big bonfire.  Boy, were we surprised when the whole thing went up in a loud, sparkling, fiery mess!  What a spectacle!
Things to do in Valencia Spain During Las Fallas - Witness La Crema

Within minutes, the beautiful creation was burnt to the ground. The process was repeated 300 times over throughout the city. We selected a falla near our hotel for the main event at midnight.  It was the first one we saw when we arrived in Valencia so we thought it fitting to pay homage and watch it burn.  For what seemed like an eternity, various combinations of people posed for pictures in front of it. A fireworks show from a nearby falla sparkled in the background.

Safety is not the highest consideration at Las Fallas festival.  A barricade was put in place but it quickly became clear that we were standing too close and ended up way across the street with flame and ash raining down on us before it was over. We wandered past another nearby falla and stayed long enough to to see a loud and long fireworks show before this falla in turn was burned to the ground. We turned in to get a few hours rest at about 2 am and reflected on the once in a lifetime experience to see Las Fallas and the big bang finale - La Crema.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Things to do in Valencia Spain During Las Fallas
Things to do in Valencia Spain During Las Fallas
Discover things to do in Valencia Spain during the Las Fallas Festival in March.
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