31st Union

Fallas: A Festival of Art and Fire

Est. Read Time3 minutes, 39 seconds
March is a special time of year for Valencia, Spain, and our 31U developers who call it home. The city bursts into a spectacular blaze of colors, sounds, and aromas with Las Fallas – a beautiful and fiery festival that celebrates the arrival of spring.

March is a special time of year for Valencia, Spain, and our 31st Union developers who call this city home. Fallas, one of the world’s most incredible cultural celebrations, is held annually from March 15 to 19. The city bursts into a spectacular blaze of colors, sounds, and aromas with Las Fallas – a beautiful and fiery festival that celebrates the arrival of spring in the most joyful way imaginable.

31U Blog | Fallas | Statue 1

Origin, Traditions, and Cultural Impact

The origin of Las Fallas comes from an early carpenter's tradition. Carpenters, commemorating Saint Joseph on the eve of March 19th, would clean their workshops and burn leftover materials and paróts, the lantern poles that lit their workspaces during winter. Creativity soon took over and they began crafting the woodpiles to satirically mimic popular figures and members of the ruling class, transforming the paróts into the ninots (Valencian word for "dolls") that we see today.

The Fallas sculptures are made up of many ninots that usually encircle bigger, central figures that can reach up to 30 meters (98 feet) in height. Each year, builders erect about 800 Fallas monuments across 400 locations. Categorized by factors like complexity and size, the sculptures often showcase the Valencian sense of humor through ironic or satirical themes incorporated within their designs.

31U Blog | Fallas | Statue 2

The falla associations (casal faller) not only create and finance these ephemeral art pieces but also host various cultural and social events. Many falleros wear intricate, traditionally Valencian silk attire and jewelry for their important acts and parades. The most breathtaking display of these garments can be seen during La ofrenda, when tens of thousands of falleras walk together to bring fresh flowers to the Plaza of the Virgin. Here, they decorate a large effigy of Valencia's patroness (Our Lady of the Forsaken) with a vibrant flower tapestry. This symbolic act moves many participants and spectators to tears.

While festival preparations and fundraising happen year-round, the first three weeks of March buzz with the most activity, peaking in the last five days (March 15-19). Hot chocolate and pumpkin fritter stalls line the streets, party tents pop up in every neighborhood, and children of all ages set off firecrackers. Thundering pyrotechnic shows (mascletá) fill the city center with the smell of gunpowder by day, and spectacular light displays illuminate the sky at night. On the eve of March 19, the fallas sculptures are set ablaze, marking the end of the celebration and the beginning of spring.

Teambuilding the Valencian Way

Each year we organize several fallas-themed outings for the team. This year, we visited Ciutat Fallera, a neighborhood in northwest Valencia where many fallero artists work in their warehouses. Here, we worked in teams to create our own ninots and held a friendly competition to see who could make the best pieces. To begin, a professional artist walked us through the history, techniques, and tools of falla making. This informative session was an eye-opener, letting us appreciate the time, effort, and craftsmanship involved in creating these temporary works of art.

31U Blog | Fallas | Team Event - Ninots

Following the crafting session, we headed over to L’Albufera Natural Park with our colleagues from 2K Valencia and dined at Nou Racó, an iconic restaurant set among rice fields and natural wetlands. The staff welcomed us with drinks and a selection of Spanish tapas, followed by a hearty lunch featuring paella Valenciana, arroz del senyoret, and fideua. We rounded off the afternoon with live music, board games, and the announcement of the ninot-making competition winners.

31U Blog | Fallas | Whole Group pic

Later in the week, the team enjoyed a picnic-style lunch and then went to the town hall square to catch the mascletá show. Armed with our mocador scarves, bocadillos and jubilant spirits, we took in the explosions, smoke, and rhythm of this intense sensory experience.

31U Blog | Fallas | Team at Mascletá

At 31st Union, we are proud to celebrate the unique traditions and diverse backgrounds of our global team. If you’d like to be part of this inclusive environment and want to learn more about what it’s like to live and work in Valencia, check out our open roles here.