10 places to celebrate Christmas in Spain

Christmas lights / Flickr
Christmas lights / Flickr
4 December 2019, Marilia Poiares

Christmas is upon us and in Spain, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful holiday traditions in the world. Great light installations, music, live nativity scenes and even a few that are made out of chocolate, decorations, Santas everywhere and a lot of holiday spirit. Join us as we show you 10 of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Spain.

Vigo, Pontevedra

Christmas decorations in Vigo / Flickr
Christmas decorations in Vigo / Flickr

If you decide to go to Vigo during Christmas, make sure you bring your sunglasses. During the festive season, the city is decorated with 10 million lights that fill up 30 streets. It might seem massive for a holiday decoration, but, according to the city mayor, their goal is to have a light installation that can be seen from the Space Station.

Vigo’s lights are a sight to be seen and this year the city promises to do something even more over the top: 50 snow machines, strategically placed at the Christmas Market, will create a nearly perfect snowy environment, every hour, starting on the 24th of November.

Aside from this, there will also be a giant snowman, an ice ramp, an ice-skating rink and a Ferris wheel that are sure to be very popular attractions.

When it comes to Christmas, in Vigo, go big or go home!

Sierra Nevada, Granada

Enjoy the snow during the Christmas holiday / Wikimedia Commons
Enjoy the snow during the Christmas holiday / Wikimedia Commons

During the Christmas season, winter sports fans can enjoy the night track, El Río, in Sierra Nevada. Approximately 2,2 miles of snowy tracks, perfect for the most adventurous, that go around Mulhacén. And, if there is abundant snow, you can also try the Maribel track, parallel to El Río, but a lot higher in the mountain.

Aside from winter sports, you can also enjoy concerts, workshops for children, scavenger hunts in the snow, and even a Reyes Magos (Wise Men) Parade with fireworks. Can you imagine the Three Wise Kings and Santa coming down the mountain?

Málaga

The spectacular light installation in Málaga / Flickr
The spectacular light installation in Málaga / Flickr

Málaga has earned an international reputation thanks to the spectacular set of lights installed in Larios Street. A massive arch structure that encapsulates the main commercial street of the city is an incredible sight and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

This year, apart from Larios street, the structure will also include the Alameda Principal for an even more impressive result that will translate in an expense of 1,5 million euros in lighting alone.

If you are stopping by Málaga this Christmas, make sure to check out the city’s live concerts, Christmas markets and other celebrations by the sea.

Barcelona

Barcelona welcomes you to its Christmas celebration / Flickr
Barcelona welcomes you to its Christmas celebration / Flickr

Barcelona has its own Christmas character: “el caganer”, a curious figurine that proudly shows off its bottom to the world.

But this isn’t the only special feature in the city’s celebrations. Barcelona has its own very special way to light up the streets, with decorations that can even shine during the day since they are made from colourful crystals.

When it comes to Christmas markets and activities, you can take your pick from the tens of venues that exist across town. We also recommend you go and watch the main parade on the 6th of January, filled with floats, thousands of actors, dancers and giant balloons.

Estepa, Seville

The famous "mantecado" made in Estepa / Flickr
The famous "mantecado" made in Estepa / Flickr

Estepa is a town fully dedicated to Christmas, or at least to Christmas’ sweet treats. This is the source of mantecados, polvorones and marzipans, the traditional treats you can find across Spain during the festive season.

It is such a tourist attraction that the city is the first in Europe to switch on its lights, 52 days before Christmas’ Day.

If you are amongst the masses of people that visit the town, drop by the La Estepeña factory to see its Ciudad del Chocolate that, every year, replicates famous Madrid monuments out of chocolate. And you can also visit the Museo del Mantecado, if you want to learn more about the mantecado and its production.

Of course, it goes without saying that since you are at the source of all this deliciousness, you really must stuff your face so, go ahead!

Madrid

The Christmas tree at Puerta del Sol / Wikimedia Commons
The Christmas tree at Puerta del Sol / Wikimedia Commons

Madrid is a classic Christmas destination. The giant light tree at Puerta del Sol, the Christmas Market in the Plaza Mayor and the chocolate con churros at San Ginés are staples one simply cannot avoid during this season in the country’s capital.

The city fills up with tourists but the Christmas spirit will help you navigate the crowds to enjoy a ride in the Naviluz bus (that takes you across the city to see all the lights), the Cortilandia show at the El Corte Inglés department store, the Christmas Show at Price theatre and many other activities.

Don’t get discouraged by the cold or Madrid’s hustle and bustle and enjoy Christmas to the fullest, because you know what they say: when in Rome…

Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz

Live nativity scene / Pixabay
Live nativity scene / Pixabay

If you are a devoted person and a fan of Christmas’ imagery, Arcos de la Frontera is your destination. The city organises a live unparalleled reenactment of the nativity scene visited by more than 20 thousand people in just one afternoon.

Organized since 1983, the reenactment keeps getting better and better with age and now includes donkeys, sheep, horses, open fires and more than 500 actors perfectly characterised with costumes, accessories, tools and even wigs.

If you want to see it with your own eyes, it all takes place on the 14th of December, from 5:30pm until 11:30pm. Get in in your calendars!

Rute, Córdoba

The chocolate nativity scene in Rute, Córdoba / andalucia.org
The chocolate nativity scene in Rute, Córdoba / andalucia.org

This is another city dedicated to the sweeter side of Christmas. Here, the star of the show is an impressive chocolate nativity scene, created by Galleros Artesanos, that have been keeping up with this tradition for more than 20 years.

With over 600 square feet and made of more than 3,000lbs of chocolate, sugar and marzipan, we assure you, you have never seen anything like it.

To calm down the urge to bite into the chocolate figures, you can visit the Museo del Anís, dedicated to Rute’s traditional liqueur and enjoy a mantecado amongst the thousands of tourists that also visit the city.

Jijona, Alicante

The very popular (and delicious) "turrón" / Flickr
The very popular (and delicious) "turrón" / Flickr

In Spain, Christmas rhymes with Turrón. The sweet taste of almonds and honey has been coating the mouths of many for more than 500 years and, each year, you can enjoy it at the iconic Christmas Fair, dedicated to turrón, marzipan and other delicious Christmas’ foods.

This year, you can visit the fair from the 5th to the 8th of December and we advise you to go early because, during these days, this will be the hottest spot in town.

Another recommendation from the artisans themselves: go with an empty stomach because there will be plenty to fill it up with.

Córdoba

Visit the "patios de Córdoba" during Christmas / Wikipedia
Visit the "patios de Córdoba" during Christmas / Wikipedia

This year, 30 of the famous “Patios de Córdoba” open their doors to the public from the 18th of December until the 4th of January, between 6:00pm and 10:00pm.

During these days you can see the stunning flower decorations that cover these patios that are recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Aside from this, you can enjoy concerts, light shows, decorations and the Christmas Market (between the 8th of November and 22nd of December) at Plaza de las Tendillas.

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