THE BEST FESTIVAL OF THE PROVINCE OF VALÈNCIA
Among the most important celebrations, due to their tradition, participation and popularity, are the Fallas, held in València and in a number of towns and cities of the Province, in addition to other traditions such as Moors and Christians, Easter Week or the many Porrats – markets – scattered around the Province of València.
More than a thousand such festivals take place throughout the year in the regions of València, but only those that have a long history, unique customs, high attendance and attract the interest of the media achieve the distinction of Festival of Tourist Interest, either Local, Provincial, of the Comunitat Valènciana, National or International.
Below we present a selection of those festivals that have been recognised with any of the above distinctions and are part of the festive tradition of València and its regions. They are shown by months so that you can plan your visit according to the date on which they will take place.
In the second week of January Benirredrà celebrates its traditional Porrat or market, while in Canals from January 16 to 18, the largest bonfire in the world burns and the day of els parells is celebrated, where the festival-goers distribute thousands of toys through the streets of the town. On the weekend after January 17, feast of Sant Antoni del Porquet, the traditional bonfire takes place in La Font d’en Carrós, as well as the medieval market that commemorates traditional crafts and trades, and the porrat with food and handicraft products.
From the second weekend of the month it is possible to enjoy in Quesa de La Reserva, a party that originated in 1695. The festival includes a medieval market, local food tastings, paella and bread for all attendees, workhorse exhibitions and craft workshops.
The fallas begin to be celebrted on March 1, although the great days of the festival are from the 15th to the 19th of the same month. From the Cridà (call to the party), through the Plantà of the monuments, the Offering to the Virgin, the parades, the mascletàs until La Cremà, both the capital and many of the surrounding towns see their streets become one continuous party, that only ends when the flames consume the fallas and the falleros begin to think about the monument they will make the following year.
The Fallas de València are considered a Festival of International Tourist Interest, but it is also worth mentioning those that take place in Alzira and Sagunto, declared of National Tourist Interest. Other towns such as Gandía, Xàtiva, Torrent, Sueca, Tavernes de la Valldigna or Cullera are also points of interest for visitors who want to know the Fallas tradition of the Valencian towns.
It is recommended that tourists visit other towns in the Valencian regions where Holy Week is especially important to the locals, such as Gandia, Torrent, Benetússer or Xàtiva. In addition, on MaundyThursday and Good Friday it is possible to enjoy the Mystery of the Passion in Moncada, a staging of the last moments of Christ which goes around the city and attracts the attention of residents and tourists.
At the end of Holy Week, the first weekend after these festivities is the Festa de la Mare de Déu del Castell de Cullera whose most representative act falls on the Night of Dawn when at dawn on Sunday the sailors and fishermen move the image of the Virgin from the church of the Santos Juanes to the beach of San Antonio and carry it on their shoulders along the seashore.
On these same dates it is also possible to go to Llutxent to enjoy its Moors and Christians festival, a festival that is also celebrated in Agullent, but in this case on the last weekend of April, in honour of Sant Vicent Ferrer.
With spring at its peak, festivals take place with nature at the heart of the celebration.
Around May 1, the famous Maderada takes place in Cofrentes, where the ancient tradition of lowering the wood from the mountains of Cuenca to the nearby towns across the river is recreated. It is the people themselves who build improvised rafts with logs to go downstream, as their ancestors did.
On the second Sunday in May, the city of València hosts the celebration of the Virgen de los Desamparados, patroness of the city.
The second and fourth weekends of May are reserved at El Palomar for its Xop Festivities. This ancient festival revolves around the poplar that the local people cut down and moving to the centre of the Plaza de la Virgen de los Desamparados. Once there, and in the traditional way, the poplar is raised to preside over the square during the holidays.
June is the key month gastronomy, with the celebration each year of the prestigious international Fideuà competition of Gandia, to promote one of the most international of Valencian dishes.
On the night of June 23rd, many towns on the coast celebrate the popular Night of San Juan, with bonfires and parties on the beaches. The most outstanding of these are in València, Gandia or Cullera.
Noteworthy is the Moors and Christians festival that takes place in Oliva from July 21 to 24, where the battles that were fought during the Reconquest are commemorated.
It is worth highlighting the festival that is celebrated every 5 years in Riba-Roja de Túria, known as the Offering to the Turia River, where neighbours from the autonomous communities the river passes through get together, and all the riverside towns offer their most typical and traditional products to the river Turia: water, fruits, vegetables, verses, songs, flowers …
At the end of July, the city of València experiences one of the most deeply rooted traditions of the summer: the traditional July Fair, with attractions, fireworks, music, etc. Albaida also celebrates the Sant Jaume Fair at the end of July.
Between the 1st and 2nd, the Baixà de Sant Roc is celebrated in Serra la Baixà de Sant Roc, while in Aldaia they perform their traditional Baixà of the Cristo de los Necesitados on the 5th. We can also find the Festa in Honour of the Santíssim Crist of Silla on August 6 or go to the Mano a Mano Concert that takes place in Buñol on the Saturday before the town’s August festivities.
Widely-known is the Festa de Les Alfàbegues a la Mare de Déu d’Agost de Bétera (from August 12th to the 22nd) where gigantic basil plants are processed through the town by the locals.
Just as important is the August Fair of Xàtiva from the14th to the 20th of this month, one of the best known in the Province, which goes back to the traditional agricultural fair of the city and moves it to the present day as a fair for crafts, gastronomy, children’s attractions and concerts for all tastes.
Burjassot celebrates its Pujà i la Rodà de Sant Roca Festivities on the 16th, while the Moors and Christians arrive in Ontinyent in the middle of August and between the 27th and 30th at L’Olleria.
The last week of August the Guadassuar Dances are held, four days of celebration where the people and the visitors dance the steps of the Valencian dances in a tradition that is remembered in the time of Jaime I. Another option is to go to Paterna on the last Sunday. of the month to enjoy the Cordà that floods the streets of the city with gunpowder, light and sound.
Two of the most representative celebrations of the Province close the month: The Requena Harvest Fair and Festivities, which lasts until September; and the internationally known Tomatina de Buñol where between 11 and 12, thousands of kilos of tomatoes are used as projectiles in a battle through the streets of the town on the last Wednesday of the month..
In Algemesí we find the Fiesta de la Mare de Déu de la Salut on the 7th and 8th, the centre of the famous Muixeranga (human towers and very graceful dances) to the rhythm of tabalet and dolçaina, the typical instruments of Valencian music, as well as other dances such as Els Tornejants, Els Bastonets, which make up a unique festival declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
On the 8th, various festivities take place, such as the Traca Kilométrica de L’Alcúdia, the prestigious Sueca International Paella Competition (more than 50 years old now), and the traditional Cant de la Carxofa de Alaquàs. In this same town the Cordà is celebrated on the 9th in honour of the Christ of the Good Death, while their procession is dedicated to this same image in Bellús on the third weekend of September. September is also the month of the Swedish MIM Festival.
If you have a bit of luck it is possible to go to the Septenario de la Virgen de Santerón de Vallanca since it is celebrated from September 16th to 26th every 7 years.
Around November 22nd, most towns and cities in València celebrate the feast of Santa Cecilia, patron saint of music, with concerts, parades … We cannot forget that València is a land of music bands, a land of musicians.
On December 13th – València hosts the celebration of the Tabalà de Santa Llúcia, in the Velluters neighbourhood (in its Shrine, at least since 1377), with the typical porrat stops, and on the eve, a good number of tabaleters and dolçainers gather. Attendees are presented with blessed bread.