Along with the Tomatina Tomato Fight, Las Fallas is one of the two most famous festivals in Valencia (though Tomatina isn't actually in the city itself). Most festivals in Spain revolve around a particular event - running in front of bulls or the aforementioned food fight) and Las Fallas is no different - it the construction and burning of the Fallas sculptures that draws people here. But, unlike many festivals in Spain, there is so much more to see and do at the Las Fallas Festival.
If you want to share Spain's biggest party with others, check out this: Fallas Party Tour
1. La Crema
The main reason you'll be at the Las Fallas festival is to witness the burning of the Fallas sculptures on the Thursday night. The biggest and most important burning is that of the town hall (ayuntamiento) Falla.
See pictures of La Crema at Valencia Town Hall.
2. The Fallas
Before they are burned, the Fallas are on display all over the city for all to see. There are dozens to see, but the main ones are the 'Secció Especial' and the town hall Falla. From the 'Secció Especial' a winner is chosen a few days before the event, which will be saved in the Fallas museum for all eternity. The rest are burned (see above).
See pictures of Las Fallas Statues.
A Mascleta is an audio firework display that takes place every afternoon (at 2pm). The Spanish are famous for their noise and nothing in Spain is as noisy as this. The mascleta can be heard from all over the city, but it is worth getting as close to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento as possible to get the real atmosphere. Acrobats perform in the streets and there is a visual element of sorts to the fireworks as the rockets leave smoke trails as they are detonated.
See pictures from a Mascleta at Las Fallas.
4. La Desperta
Forget to set your alarm after partying all night at Las Fallas? Have no fear! The kind locals provide their own wake-up call, by dropping fire crackers outside people's windows at 8am. The service is done free of charge by the very considerate Valencianos. You won't find this on any official program so ask your hotel where you can get to see one.
See pictures from a Desperta.
The Las Fallas festival isn't entirely about noise and fire (though it is mainly). It is also about lots of ladies dressing up in pretty dresses and carrying flowers. For two days the city's women and girls parade around Valencia, followed by a full marching band. The processions culminate in the Plaza de la Virgen, where their flowers are 'offered' to a statue of the Virgin.
Some of the women get very emotional at being part of this event and you will see a lot of them crying as they approach the statue. See pictures from Flower Offering at Las Fallas
6. Paella Contests
Another unofficial part of the Fallas festival, you may be lucky enough to run into a paella contest in the streets. These mainly take place towards the beginning of March, before the main festivities begin. The Valencianos are very proud of their paellas - the famous dish was invented in this region, so you may never sample a better paella than one of the ones cooked here. Don't be surprised to not see any fish in the paella - original paella doesn't have any seafood in it!
Read more about paella in Spain
7. La Nit del Foc Firework DisplayIn addition to the daytime audio firework displays (see 'Mascleta' above), there is also a more coventional visual firework display at night. There are fireworks every night from the 15th to the 18th, with the last one (La Nit del Foc) being the biggest. These are some of the biggest and most expensive firework displays you are ever likely to see.
8. Eat Buñuelos with ChocolateAll over the city you will see funny misshaped donut things being served in the streets. These are buñuelos and they will be served with a chocolate 'drink' for dunking them in (really it's little more than melted chocolate and is so thick that it's difficult to drink normally).
9. Visit the Las Fallas MuseumIronically, the Las Fallas Museum at Plaza Monteolivete isn't easy to get to during the festival, due to the fact many roads in the city are cut off for the week. However, if you don't mind walking there (it's a little out of the city), you will get to see all of the Fallas monuments that have won competition each year and been saved from a fiery death.
10. See a Bullfight
Valencia's very central bullfight is home to bullfights throughout the main Fallas week and attracts bullfighting aficionados from all over the country. Tickets sell out in advance, so speak to your hotel about how to get one as soon as you arrive in the city.
Read more about Bullfighting in Spain