Málaga Christmas is famous for its unique atmosphere and stunning lights. Have you even wondered why Spanish people love the Christmas Lights so much? We think it might have something to do with the lack of snow, palm trees and rather not-so-wintery weather 😎
Crowds of tourists from Spain and other parts of the world visit Málaga every year to enjoy the stunning Christmas Lights, Christmas Markets and shop for presents. This post will tell you everything you need to know about Málaga Christmas!
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Here is a quick overview:
Málaga is famous throughout the whole Spain for its Christmas decorations. But what is the best spot to see them? Calle Larios of course! Famous for its stunning illumination, Calle Larios is the heart of Málaga Christmas (although you can also find beautiful decorations all over the city). Every year crowds of people wait excitedly for the first illumination of the Christmas Season. This year’s theme is “The Christmas Forest” (Bosque de Navidad). Colorful leaves, gleaming decorations and towering arches cover the whole length of the Larios street.
The illumination usually starts the last Friday of November (in 2019 the lights are on from November 29th. But don’t worry if you haven’t seen them yet!
Every day there are illumination shows accompanied by Christmas songs we all know and love starting at 6.30 pm, 8.00 pm and 9.30 pm. But hurry and get there before January the 5th, because the illumination stops before the Night of the Three Kings on January 6th. The lights are lit everyday between 6.30 pm and 2 am.
If you love Christmas Trees you won’t be disappointed as well! There is going to be a couple of them in Málaga: on Plaza de Constitution, Plaza de la Marina, Plaza del Obispo, one in Huelin Park and one in Plaza de Enrique Gracia.
Along with the Christmas Lights the Christmas Markets come. There are several spots in Málaga where you can really feel the festive atmosphere, try delicious treats, traditional products, buy some presents and take a pleasant stroll.
The biggest Málaga Christmas Market is probably The Craft Fair in the Parque de Málaga. It starts at the beginning of December and lasts until January 6th. It’s located at Passeo del Parque, on both sides of the street. There you can find typical Christmas decorations, accessories, handcraft and artisan products so surely you’ll find some great gift ideas there!
There are also some stalls with traditional food located at Plaza de la Marina so check them out too!
Another smaller but equally charming Christmas Market is located in Muelle Uno, at the entrance to the Port. Apart from the typical Christmassy products in this market you can also find some independent fashion brands, accessories and souvenirs.
If you’re looking for a little less traditional presents you have many shopping galleries to choose from. To check out our favourites read this post.
For any foreigner it might be interesting to learn how people celebrate Christmas in Málaga so let’s get a little more into the Spanish Christmas Spirit.
One of the traditions is taking part in a Christmas Lottery “El Gordo” (the fat one). The tickets are sold by people on the streets from the beginning of November and the day when the lucky numbers are announced, the 22nd of December, is considered an official opening of the Christmas season.
The celebrations begin on 24th of December, the Christmas Eve, in Spanish called Nochebuena (the good night). The tradition calls for a big family dinner in the evening. The main course differs throughout Spain, sometimes it’s a stuffed turkey or chicken but in the South of Spain and Málaga seafood is very common. Jamón Serrano is also a must-have on every Christmas Table.
Other traditional Christmas food includes borrachuelos (Málaga wine flavored pastry), turrón (nougat) and mantecados (shortbread cookies), roscos de vino (round cookies with Málaga Wine). Don’t forget to try them while visiting the Christmas Markets in Málaga!
After the dinner most people go to a Midnight Mass “La Misa Del Gallo” (The Mass of the Rooster) and after that participate in a procession through the streets, playing instruments and singing, because, as the traditional saying goes, it is not a night meant for sleeping.
Every region in Spain can boast some unique traditions and celebrations during the Christmas period.
December 28th is ‘Día de los santos inocentes’ or ‘Day of the Innocent Saints’ and is very like April Fools Day. Simultaneously, on 28th of December a special event takes place in Málaga: Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales – the Grand Festival of Verdiales. Vierdiales is a variation of Flamenco originating in Málaga province. The competition takes place in Puerto de la Torre, 15 mins from Málaga on the A7075 road to Almogía. The groups who perform it are known as “pandas”, they sing, play instruments such as guitars, violins, castanets, and dance in couples. The traditional costumes include characteristic hats decorated with flowers, small mirrors, bells and long, colorful ribbons.
To get to the festival look for the bus 21 from Alameda Principal (the drive is around 35 minutes).
January 5th – The Three Kings Parade (Cabalgata de Reyes) is another big celebration in Málaga. The parade starts at 5pm at Ayuntamiento and continues through the main streets of the city with The Kings, Gaspar, Melchior and Baltasar leading the parade and throwing small gifts and sweets to the children. The celebration ends with performances and animations for everyone.
January 6th, the actual day of celebration of the Three Kings Day, is the moment for exchanging gifts. However it’s not the Santa Claus but the Kings who receive letters from children asking for presents. Instead of placing a sock on a Mantelpiece Spanish children leave their shoes by the door the night before, hoping to find some toys inside the next morning. The Day of Epiphany is also the day when people eat Roscón de Reyes, a traditional sweet bread ring decorated with almonds and fruits, sometimes stuffed with whipped cream. Whoever finds the small figurine hidden inside has the honor of buying next year’s Roscón.
Another thing characteristic for Andalusia are Nativity Scenes portraying the birth of Jesus called beléns. In Málaga you can find them all over the city. Every year they are prepared by many different groups and organizations; usually you can see up to 60 of them! Take a tour around the city and don’t miss the ones at the Cathedral and the City Hall. Check this map to plan your route!
The tradition of Nativity Scenes is so deeply rooted in the hearts of Spanish people that they usually have their own beléns at home. The Málaga Christmas Markets are actually full of figurines so go ahead and try to recreate a Nativity Scene yourself!
Celebrating Málaga Christmas is certainly a unique experience so if you’re lucky enough to be here at this time of the year make sure to make the best of it!