Tuesday - March 17 to Monday - March 23, 2020
Las Fallas Festival, Explore Food & Culture
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Las Fallas is a 5-day festival that has become a major tradition for the Spanish people and is considered one of the craziest festivals on earth. In 2016 Fallas was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The highlight of the Fallas festival is the creation of ‘ninots’, which are very large cartoon-like sculpture figurines that are handmade using wood, plaster, cardboard, styrofoam, polyester, and a lot of papier-mache. These huge figurines can sometimes take up to 12 months to make and end up costing thousands. The ninots typically represent the current “state of the world” and are first paraded around the streets and then engulfed in flames under a very impressive display of fireworks. The festival parade sees thousands of locals dressed in traditional handmade attire dancing through the beautiful Valencian streets to traditional Spanish music. Along with any good street festival also comes delicious street-food.
Day 1 - Tuesday - March 17
Arrive to Valencia, check-in to hotel, relax and adjust to jet lag. In the evening we will enjoy a Tapas dinner and then head over to the Ruzafa District Light Show, where the neighborhood is spectacularly lit with over 750,000 colorful lights arranged in intricate constellations.
Day 2 - Wednesday - March 18
Today we will see the spectacular Fallas Ninots while visiting the beautiful sites of Valencia, including: Torres de Serrano, La Lonja de la Seda, the Cathedral, El Miguelete, Plaza de la Reina as well as the City of Arts and Science.
In the afternoon we will go to the Plaza Ayuntamiento to see the La Mascletá celebration. Each afternoon when the clock strikes 2 pm, the Fallera Mayor calls from the balcony of City Hall to begin the elaborately coordinated firework and firecracker show. We will also have the unique opportunity to get a 'behind the scenes' look at Fallas when we meet a Casal Faller, one of the neighborhood groups that worked all year to design and build their Ninot.
If you are still not tired then stay up for the optional Nit del Foc (the Night of Fire) which begins at 1:30am. It is the biggest firework show of the year which lights up 4,000 kilos of fireworks and attracts hundreds of thousands of people.
Day 3 - Thursday - March 19
We will spend the morning with a real Valencian chef learning how to prepare the perfect Spanish tortilla (potato & onion omelet), how to carve an authentic Iberian ham like a professional, the secret to preparing sangría using only natural ingredients, and finally enjoy a tasting of a variety of the most delicious Spanish cheeses.
In the afternoon we will continue to admire the Fallas Ninots and take a break to enjoy a horchata at Horchatería Santa Catalina. For the last 100 years, Santa Catalina has been the best place for horchata, churros, fartons, and hot chocolate in Valencia.
In the evening we will attend the Cabalgata del Fuego, the fire parade, which showcases vibrant costumes, street performances, music, floats, and of course, tons of fire! Later in the night is the La Cremà finale when the Ninots are stuffed full with fireworks. As the sun sets, the city’s lights are turned off, the crowds begin to chant and at midnight the Ninots are set ablaze—all except for one lucky Ninot who is spared and displayed in a local museum.
Day 4 - Friday - March 20
After a busy few days celebrating Fallas, we will spend the day away from Valencia City at the tranquil beach town of Javea located on the Costa Blanca between Valencia and Alicante. We will explore the beautiful sand and rock beaches, the port, the historic old town, the 14th century old windmills and lighthouse with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. We will take a break for lunch at Restaurante Casa Salvador, a well-known family-run restaurant that offers some of the finest, traditional Valencian cooking with fantastic views.
Day 5 - Saturday - March 21
We will spend the day again with a real Valencian Chef, but this time learning how to cook an authentic paella. You will have the choice of cooking the traditional Valencian paella, a Seafood paella or a Vegetarian paella. FIRST, you must go shopping! There is no better place to buy the ingredients than at the Mercado Central, which has the highest variety, quality and freshest products in Valencia. GET READY now the real experience begins in the kitchen. You will put on your Chef outfit and together with the staff prepare all the ingredients you just bought to have them on hand for cooking. Now you only have to pay attention, follow the Chef’s guidance and not lose track of the process. Lastly, ENJOY the finished and delicious paella. You will eat straight from the pan, as the Valencian tradition demands.
In the afternoon we will travel to the historic village of Serra. We will explore the village, enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside and eat dinner at a traditional local restaurant. Serra is a quaint cobble stoned village nestled in the mountains with narrow roads and a single panaderia (bakery), carniceria (butcher) and pescaderia (fish market).
Day 6 - Sunday - March 22
In the morning we will learn about the Science of Spanish Cooking from an expert in the field.
In the afternoon we will travel for a farewell lunch in Albufera – the birthplace of the Paella, followed by a boat ride through the rice paddies. You will have the opportunity to see for yourself where the medium-short grained paella rice is cultivated.
Day 7 - Monday - March 23
In the morning we will visit the workshop of Lladro, the world renowned producer of porcelain figurines. The experience includes a tour of the handcrafted process used to create their pieces.
In the afternoon the program has come to an end and it is time for your flight home or to participate in an optional extension.