Food, festivals, and fabulous nocturnal runs

With the end of summer and this month’s refreshing drop in temperatures, it’s time for the Valencia Community to come to life again. From a bull drive in Segorbe to nocturnal races and the World Paella Day celebrations, discover what to do in Valencia this September to soak up the community’s unbeatable spirit.

Grab a fork for World Paella Day

It’s time to celebrate paella! Our adopted region’s most famous cuisine and the national dish of Spain, paella’s popularity has spread around the world. On September 20, it is World Paella Day, a chance to celebrate the heritage of the timeless dish, originally created by rural peasants with the seasonal produce they had at hand.  

The succulent rice feast is named for the paella pan used to cook it, and typically consists of 10 key ingredients, including chicken, rabbit, green beans, butter beans, tomato, rice, olive oil, saffron and water. While outside of Spain, the paella is thought to include seafood, we wouldn’t recommend saying that too loudly here.

This year, the final stages of the global paella competition will take place in Valencia’s glamorous marina, with 12 chefs (rather than the usual 10) competing to win the World Paella Day Cup. The competition is fierce, so head down to the marina from September 16 to 19 for the stages, on September 20 for the final showdown, or join in from home and share your creation with the hashtag #worldpaelladay.

Bull droving in mountainous Segorbe

Dive under the surface of authentic Spain with the bull droving in the pretty hill town of Segorbe, just under an hour’s drive from Valencia city. Running from September 9 to 15, the Entrance of Bulls and Horses is held in honour of the ancient town’s patron saints, San Juan and San Pedro, and was declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest in 2005.

Every day at 2pm, a herd of bulls speed through the sea of spectators lining Calle de Argen, guided by daring locals on horseback en route to Plaza de los Mesones. The skilled riders then surround the herd, pushing them along Calle Colon towards the bullring in a dizzying spectacle as the crowds hold their breath in exhilaration.

The first reference to this intense tradition dates back to around 1386, making this one of the most traditional festivals in Spain. Whether visiting for a day or making the most of your rural escape, you’ll enjoy open-air concerts, fireworks, bullfighting acts and a street fair celebrating Segorbe’s traditional hams and cold meats.

Run the city by night

Tie your laces tight for this invigorating 15km nocturnal run through the vibrant city centre, held on September 30 and starting at 10:30pm. Energies are sky-high for the 10th anniversary of the race, organised by the Valencian Athletics Club Foundation and an annual favourite of Valencian’s chasing that runner’s high and those training for the October marathon in Valencia.

The race will kick off on Avenida del Ingeniero Manuel Soto, near the marina’s Paseo de Neptuno. Runners will then pass many of Valencia’s most famous sites, including the City of Arts and Sciences, Torres de Serrano, and Plaza de Ayuntamiento, offering a fantastic chance to rediscover the city you call home.

Excited? If you want to participate, you can register through the official website or directly at the site on the day of the run. For unlicensed runners, the cost of participating is 22€ if you register before September 28, or slightly more if you register on the day. An optional donation to the Red Cross is always welcome too.

San Miguel in lovely Llíria

Head inland in late September to witness the traditional celebrations of San Miguel in charming Llíria, one of the prettiest towns near Valencia. Held throughout the final two weeks of the month, these annual festivities date back to 1326, when King James II founded the town’s monastery.

This festival is packed with cultural spectacles, food stalls and music, making it the perfect excuse to get away for the day and experience one of the most family-friendly festivals in Valencia. The whole town is transformed temporarily, with funfair attractions, stages, and the pathway to the monastery lined with stalls overflowing with candles to bless the saint and sweets such as turrón and sugared almonds.

Enjoy the classical music festival, as well as pop concerts, street dancing, theatre performances, and firework displays in the Plaza Mayor. A selection of gourmet food fairs, such as the Feria Agroalimentaria or the Comercial A Mos Redò, are simply the icing on the cake. 

Seeking the perfect place to savour paella or looking to recreate the dish for yourself? Head to Valencia Style to find out more. 

DON’T MISS: The Modernista Festival in Alcoy, held from September 18 to 24, lends this gorgeous mountain town further aesthetic allure. 

DATE FOR THE DIARY: The Valencian Festival of Pyrotechnics is coming on October 9, be prepared with a plan for the pets and a prime viewpoint.

DID YOU KNOW:  Valencia has been named Green Capital for 2024 by the European Commission, thanks to an unwavering commitment to sustainability. 

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