Bright lights, colour, taste and sound – the festive season in Malaga ranks as one of the highlights of the cultural, gastronomic and retail year. For something a little bit different, why not celebrate Christmas in Malaga?
Good weather is almost guaranteed – the sun doesn’t burn but you can still sit outside in short sleeves and soak up the December rays. And although the temperatures drop at night, you won’t need your hat, gloves and scarf. But apart from enjoying a welcome dose of warm winter sunshine, here are 5 other reasons you should celebrate this Christmas in Malaga.
Christmas lights in Malaga
One thing Malaga does extremely well is Christmas lights. From the Alameda Principal to the Plaza de General Torrijos, the whole of the city centre turns into one bright Christmas festival of lights. Highlights include the Alameda Principal, Calle Larios – this year’s display of a festive forest is exceptional – and the four Christmas trees displayed in Plaza de la Marina, Plaza del Obispo, Plaza de Enrique García Herrera and Plaza de la Constitución. The video below gives you an idea of what to expect.
There’s also a light and sound show on the walls of the Alcazaba – watch it from Calle Alcazabilla every evening at 6.30pm, 8pm and 9.30pm. The newly-pedestrianised Alameda Principal also has a light show projected on the largest ficus tree near Calle Larios. The ‘Enchanted Tree’ show runs every evening at 7.15pm, 9pm and 10.15pm.
29 November to 5 January
Top tip – catch lighting up time (usually around 6.30pm) at Calle Larios and watch the street gradually come alive with Christmas lights. Light and sound shows happen at 6.30pm, 8pm and 9.30pm.
Christmas Music and Dance in Malaga
The festive season in Malaga comes with several musical highlights including:
Christmas choral concert – The Instruments of Time and Truth Orchestra and 200 non-professional singers (including the Oxford Voices Choir and six choirs from Malaga) perform Handel’s Messiah on Friday 13 December at 7.30pm at the Cervantes Theatre. Tickets from €12 and available online here. Take your hankies…
Cathedral Christmas concert – Malaga Cathedral celebrates its annual Christmas concert on 23 December at 8pm with a concert by the Young Baroque Orchestra of Andalusia playing Vivaldi, Pachebel, Locatelli, Handel and Bach. Entrance is free.
Top tip – join the queue outside the Cathedral entrance early to be sure of a place.
Traditional Christmas music – For 50 years, Malaga has been celebrating the annual verdiales competition. This traditional music and dance, an intrinsic part of Christmas in Malaga, originates from the villages in the mountains to the east of Malaga. Around 30 groups of musicians and dancers take place in 3 sections based on where the groups are from (Montes, Almogia and Comares). The video below gives you an idea of what to expect. 27 December from 10am to 11pm in the Recinto Ferial in Puerto de la Torre, a district to the north of Malaga.
Top tip – get to the verdiales competition on bus No 21 from the Alameda Principal. The journey takes around 35 minutes.
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Christmas Culture in Malaga
Christmas in Spain has two essential cultural elements:
Nativity scenes – known as belenes in Spanish, these are traditionally set up in churches and chapels, but you’ll often find them in museums, cultural centres and department stores. All are works of art with amazing detail in the figures and their surroundings. The Malaga tourist office publishes a leaflet and map detailing the Malaga nativity scene trail, usually made up of at least 60.
5 December to 5 January
Three Kings Parade – the absolute highlight of any Spanish child’s year, the Three Kings Parade in Malaga starts with the Kings’ arrival at the port and continues in a lavish show of colour and lights as the parade moves slowly through the city. The Kings and their helpers throw thousands of kilos of sweets as they complete their annual tour.
5 January from 5pm
Top tip – bag your place in the parade early to ensure a frontline view (and plenty of sweets!).
Christmas shopping in Malaga
Christmas is the busiest time of the year for shopping in Malaga, particularly in the days up to 6 January when Spaniards traditionally give presents. Soak up some of the hectic retail atmosphere in Calle Larios and adjacent Calle Nueva. Shop for unusual Christmas gifts in the small shops in the narrow lanes around the Thyssen Museum and Plaza de los Mártires. Check out the best Malaga souvenirs at Christmas.
Top tip – take a welcome break from shopping and enjoy some chocolate and churros (the ultimate winter comfort food?) at Casa Aranda on Calle Herrería del Rey (near Atarazanas Market) and Calle Santos (near the Thyssen Museum).
Christmas food in Malaga
Christmas is a great culinary time of the year in Malaga, particularly when it comes to sweets and cakes. Try some of the traditional local Christmas fare such as marzipan, mantecado biscuits, turrón nougat and roscos de vino (wine and aniseed biscuits). The best place for buying these is at local bakeries (try Lepanto or Aparicio) and in traditional grocery stores – we like La Mallorquina on Plaza Féliz Saenz.
Top tip – take home a classic Malaga souvenir of turrón nougat made by Casa Mira. Buy it at their store on Calle Larios or on Calle Andrés Pérez.