Tag Archives: three kings

Christmas in Andalucia

There are many aspects of Christmas in Andalucia that are similar to those in other areas of Europe. The Christmas lights go on, the shops fill up with traditional goodies, and a lot of people eat and drink too much. But, of course, there is often a little Spanish twist to them.

christmas lights

The traditional date for the start of festivities in Andalucia is December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception, but as in many other places these days, in practice the season seems to start earlier every year. In Andalucia there is a big tradition of Christmas markets and fairs to supplement your Christmas shopping, with donkey and camel rides, stalls selling cheap (and sometimes not so cheap) gifts and decorations, and sweets and hot dogs to keep you going.

An even bigger Christmas tradition is the Belen (Bethlehem). Almost every house has at least a modest version of the Nativity Scene, but there are also many more elaborate public ones, especially in department stores and churches, and a market that specialises in the models for making them.

Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) and Christmas Day (Navidad) are family days, especially Christmas Eve, which is the night for a big family dinner, turkey and truffles being traditional, and even the bars are closed, although some will open again after midnight. If you’re a visitor having your own apartment rather than a hotel will be a big plus at this time, as you can cook your own Christmas dinner.


New Year’s is celebrated with fireworks, and by the eating of twelve grapes as midnight strikes. Eating them in time brings good luck, and nowadays you can buy the grapes already peeled and stoned to make sure.

The end of the Christmas season is Epiphany (January 6). In Andalucia the night of January 5 is when Los Reyes Magos – the Magic Kings travel round the world on their camels to bring children their presents. Earlier in the evening most cities and towns have a big procession in which the kings and their assistants throw sweets to the crowd. For children it’s the biggest event of the year. At Epiphany everyone eats roscónes, a large doughnut shaped cake. Inside there is a coin and a dry bean. Whoever finds the coin is “king” for the day; whoever finds the bean has to pay for next year’s roscón.

Seville | Christmas Markets 2013

Christmas Book Market in Plaza Nueva

Love it or loathe it, the Christmas shopping season is now upon us. In Seville that means not only the usual high street shops and stores, but also a good number of street markets, which add some individuality and colour to the proceedings, and are actually good fun to browse in search of those elusive bargains and special gifts.

For the bookworm in your life the annual Christmas antique and second-hand book fair (Feria del Libro Antigua y de Ocasión), on in the Plaza Nueva until December 9, is the place to go for an unusual or specialist book (though they’re mostly in Spanish, of course).

christmas market saludFrom December 14 the square will be home to the annual Christmas Artisan Market, where you can find all kinds of hand-crafted items, from clothes and art to jewellery and accessories, in wood, leather, ceramic, and even ironwork. This is the market to go to for quality or one-of-a-kind gifts.

belenesIf you’re looking for some new pieces for your model nativity scene, you’ll find them at the Fería de Belen (literally Bethlehem) in the street between the cathedral and the Archivos de India. Nativity scenes are big here, and there’s an implausible variety of mangers, stables, Marys, Josephs, sheep, wise men and Roman centurions on offer. Conveniently located for a look round in between your normal sightseeing obligations.

As well as these more specialist markets, there are Christmas Markets in several places around the city from December 5 to January 6 (Three Kings day). The Prado San Sebastian, the Alameda de Hercules, and the Plaza Encarnación and Plaza Mayor (under the Setas will all have a traditional array of market and fairground food stalls, together with ice rinks, camel rides a tent where you can visit the Kings, and other attractions. This year the city will light up for Christmas on November 29th, with a special vertical lights feature in Plaza Salvador that will imitate the famous one in Covent Garden, and once again the “3D mapping” will take place in Plaza San Francisco every evening from December 19 to January 5.