Las Fallas the greatest fiesta of fires on earth - Mon 14th February 2011

 The insider guide to Las Fallas in 2011

When? 15-19 March, each year

Where? Valencia

Why? To honour St Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters

Really? Yes, but one feast day has turned into a crazy, five-day fiesta of fires.

How? It's Spain, remember.

The land that brought you bull-running in Pamplona and the world's largest food fight in Buñol (La Tomatina) brings you a pyromaniac's dream - Las Fallas in Valencia, a five-day fiesta of fires. If there's one thing Spain does exceptionally well, it's party.

Neighbourhood groups, known as casal falleros, create enormous, papier maché figurines. Creations are often satirical, always elaborate, can scale above three storeys and cost up to €600,000. Pick up a local Fallas map (from tourist offices and dotted throughout the city) for all the exhibit locations.

All but one of the creations are stuffed with fireworks and set alight at midnight on the 19 March in La Cremà (the burning). The pardoned figure is chosen by public vote and joins generations of previous fortunate favourites in the Fallas Museum.

The finalé is an ear-splitting cacophony of noise with flames appearing to engulf the city. Don't be tempted to squeeze into the front rows behind the barriers as the heat and floating embers from the towering fires routinely drive crowds back. Resourceful bomberos (firemen) are on hand to douse out-of-control fireballs. This event is not for the faint-hearted!

Looking for something more sedate? Head to the Plaza de la Virgen on the 17 and 18 March. Entire communities, including their fallera mayor (festival queen) don exquisite, traditional costume and offer flowers to a huge wooden statue of the Virgin Mary. The processions are joyful and music spills through the streets.

 Accommodation for Las Fallas 2011

Accommodation is tough to find in the city, but check the virtual tours of our luxury villas for a quiet bolthole within an hour or so of the city.

Parking in Valencia

Driving? Make the most of the Valencia park & ride system. You'll find car parks and great transportation into the city from: Llíria, La Pobla de Vallbona, L'Eliana, Massarrojos, Rocafort, Empalme, València Sud, Paiporta and Seminari.

Or try parking along the Turia dry riverbed, close to parks, gardens and Valencia's major architectural highlights. In the city, find blue zones and pay at the nearest machine. Watch out for red and yellow zones (or blue signs with a yellow line through them). Park here and your car will be ticketed, clamped or towed.

Helpful links...

for accommodation away from the noise click here

for a cheap flight to Alicante, Valencia and Murcia click here

for the Las Fallas 2011 itinerary, photos and information click here

for transport information for Valencia click here

Have you been to Valencia in March? Will you be going to Las Fallas in 2011? Tell us your story, email your photos and give us your top tips.

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