One of the greatest parts about this trip was getting to understand the culture of Valencia. Ironically, I gave a presentation on the region of Valencia a few hours before my flight there. However, all the aspects I presented on didn’t really click until I actually went there.
Valencia is very focused on extravagance. It’s a region known for their grand ‘fiestas’ (parties) where they spare no expense. The most renowned festival is ‘Fallas,’ which takes place from the 15th through the 19th of March. During this time, the people of Valencia dress up in their traditional outfits and march in parades and celebrate. Artists spend the whole year creating ‘fallas,’ or huge statues that are displayed in the streets for four days and then burned in large bonfires on the last day. There’s music playing everywhere and it’s a huge celebration. The traditional outfits are made from extremely expensive material, and cost about $1,000 to make—and it’s only worn for one week a year! Since it’s so expensive, people usually wear the same dress for as many years as possible.
Sticking with the ‘fiesta culture’ of Valencia, I also witnessed not one but two ‘despedidas de solteras’ (bachelorette parties). Unlike the United States, bachelorette parties are an all-day affair. Both parties were a group of around 20 women who marched the streets dancing and singing all day long, only to party until dawn in the night as well. They had matching t-shirts and the soon-to-be-brides wore costumes and led ‘the troops’ around the streets. In Valencia it’s very common for the party to hire a band to follow them around as they march on the streets, playing a type of music typical to Valencia.
Valencia is also heavily influenced by Moorish tradition, and much of the community resembled southern Spain in that respect. It’s definitely a Mediterranean culture with a relaxed lifestyle, rich seafaring history and 300 days of sun. Valencia was well worth the visit. If you’re ever in Spain, try to stop and see it for yourself!