If you have liked my story on Spanish traditions during Christmas, you will like this one even more. It is about the Three Kings parade. But first, let's put you into perspective. In Spain, we do not exchange gifts on Christmas Eve but on January 6th, just like the Three Kings did to baby Jesus. We leave a shoe by the chimney and, come the morning, we will have left all kinds of surprises there. But if this is magical for kids, wait until you hear what happens the day before, when they actually get to see these kings in action. Yes, on January 5th, kids (and adults) go to the street in every town of Spain, no matter how small, to see the Three Kings and their whole convoy of pages, horses, camels, carriages, etc. It is a festival of music, light and magic. They hand away sweets and gifts to the crowd and begin the real competition to get the most out of them. This is a list of the best parades in Spain. So if you are ever here on this day, do not miss it. You are in for a whole new experience: a unique Spanish tradition, the Three Kings parade.
This is the oldest parade in Spain. It started in 1866, and in the beginning, it was created to be a charity parade in order to support poor and sick children. However, nowadays, it is much more than that! Already on January 4th, the royal ambassador announces the imminent arrival of their Majesties to the town of Alicante. Children will come to him to deposit the letters addressed to the Three Kings, and he will keep them on baskets carried by donkeys so the Three Kings know exactly what to bring to each child.
The next day, the monarchs are already in town, camping outside Alcoy, where the children can visit them. Then, on January 5th, it is the big day, and over a thousand locals march through Alcoy dressed as pages, shepherds and so on. Three bands accompany the convoy playing Christmassy music. When they arrive in the city centre, some pages escalate the ladders they brought for the occasion to reach the balconies and personally bring gifts to the children inhabiting these houses.
When the Three Kings get to Plaza España, they get down from their camels and horses and adore baby Jesus before continuing the tour. It is very exciting and moving, especially when you see the children’s faces!
Plaza España, AlcoyAlcoy, Alicante, España
Of course, the capital of Spain had to be in one of the first positions. Everywhere in Madrid, there will be a parade, but the most beautiful one happens at the heart of the city centre. Every year, the parade has a theme, finishing with a great fireworks spectacle. Also, you can book seats for free to watch the show. Naturally, children with needs have priority!
Gran Vía, MadridGran Vía, Madrid, Spain
The Three Kings arrive every year in Barcelona by boat. This is very typical in cities by the sea, like San Sebastián or Gijón. In Barcelona, there is a page, Grigori, who oversees how children behave. The bad ones will get charcoal, according to our customs.
Catedral de BarcelonaPla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
The parade leaves from Fábrica de Tabacos, the beautiful building of the Sevillan University, and for over five hours goes through the main streets, crossing the river towards Triana, with a lot of carriages full of colours and fantasy.
Puente de Isabel II, SevillaPuente de Isabel II, 41010 Sevilla, Spain
Málaga takes Christmas very seriously. This day, too. Bands march, with the parade filling the air with music and joy, from the city hall to the cathedral. There, the Three Kings will offer their presents to baby Jesus. The ceremony includes a concert, so it is very touching.
Catedral de MalagaCalle Molina Lario, 9, 29015 Málaga, Spain
Another great parade happens at Granada, one of the oldest in Spain (1912). In general, all cities and towns make a great effort to organise a great show for their children. I have great memories since I was very little, going with my family to fight to get candies from their majesties. Even old ladies open their umbrellas to catch more sweets!
Because of these celebrations, our Christmas lasts longer than anywhere else: children do not go back to school at least until January the 8th. So you can imagine how great it is to be a kid in our country at this time and be able to enjoy our unique Spanish tradition: the Three Kings parade!
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Sara Rodriguez Romo
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