What’s Christmas in Malaga like? What will be open? What can we see and do? When do the Christmas lights go on? It’s one of the biggest Malaga events and one we get lots of questions on. To answer them, we thought the best thing was to create a Christmas in Malaga FAQs blog post. If the answer to your question isn’t here, let us know and we’ll add it in!
Note that the information in this post refers to Christmas 2019. We will add details for 2020 as soon as we have it – bookmark this page and get an eye on the updates!
Malaga Christmas Lights
Malaga Christmas lights are one of the highlights of the festive period particularly those in Calle Larios (picture below) and are world famous for their spectacular light and sound show. But the big question is when are they turned on?
In 2020, the probable date for the Malaga Christmas lights switch-on will be Friday 27 November at 6.30pm. The event takes places with a huge street party in Calle Larios. Some 10,000 light beams will be handed out to spectators who can watch the first light and sound show, followed afterwards by a concert in Plaza de la Constitución. This is one of the biggest events in Malaga and crowds of people turn out. If you want to enjoy the lights with fewer people, visit during the week.
The video below gives you a great idea of the display on Calle Larios in 2019 (although not as good as seeing it for yourself!).
Son et lumiere shows take place on Calle Larios at 6.30pm, 8pm and 9.30pm. In 2019, 5 tunes formed part of the show: Christmas carol sung by the children at Sierra Blanca school in Malaga, All I want for Christmas by Mariah Carey, Jingle Bell Rock by Hilary Duff (2 earworms there…), En Navidad performed by David Bustamente, Rosana and the Operación Triunfo Academy, and Never Back Down in the version by Sofia Session Orchestra and Choir. Some feet-tapping stuff for this year!
The telling of a Christmas story takes place on Calle Alcazabilla, projected onto the Alcazaba walls with music and narration (in Spanish). Watch it at 6.30pm, 8pm and 9.30pm.
The Alameda Principal also takes centre stage at Christmas this year after having no lights since 2015 because of works on the metro. As well as fairy lights in the largest ficus trees and six brightly-lit almond trees, the Alameda also has a video projected on the trees nearest Calle Larios of a child telling a Christmas story. This video display lasts 6 minutes and takes place at 7.15pm, 9pm and 10.15pm.
Apart from Calle Larios, almost 2 million LED bulbs light up Malaga this Christmas – Calle Granada has some lovely arches and for the first time, Calle San Juan (parallel to Calle Nueva) and Calle Cárcer (the street that leads up to the Cervantes Theatre) have a display of Christmas lights. Look out for 5 giant trees:
- Plaza de la Marina – sparkling in white and green.
- Plaza de la Constitución – you can go “inside” the tree this year.
- Plaza del Obispo – this tree looks magical at night next to the illuminated Cathedral façade.
- Plaza de Enrique García Herrera – on the square to the west of Calle San Juan.
- And in Huelin Park, lighting up the lake.
And as usual, the Paseo de Parque has a long stretch of lights, best seen on foot.
The lights are switched on every evening over the Christmas period between 6.30pm and 2am. They’re turned off on 5 January 2020 after the Three Kings parade.
Opening times during Christmas in Malaga
Which days are public holidays in Malaga over Christmas 2019?
- Wednesday 25 December (Christmas Day)
- Wednesday 1 January (New Year’s Day)
- Monday 6 January (Epiphany/ Three Kings)
What will be closed on these days?
All shops, museums and attractions in Malaga. Most bars and restaurants tend to close on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but many open for Three Kings.
Shops usually close early (e.g. between 3 and 5pm) on Christmas Eve (24 December) and New Year’s Eve (31 December)
Will any restaurants be open on Christmas Day?
Some larger restaurants and those in hotels will be open, but check in advance and book to be sure of a table.
Public transport over Christmas in Malaga
What about public transport in Malaga over Christmas?
Trains, buses and the metro will be running, although some lines will have a reduced service. If you’re planning to travel outside Malaga, e.g. to visit Granada or Seville, book ahead.
Will I be able to get a taxi in Malaga at Christmas?
Yes, taxis will be running. There’s a surcharge for services on public holidays.
Things to do in Malaga at Christmas
What is there to do in Malaga at Christmas?
Christmas is one of the busiest times, packed with shoppers and tourists especially in the evenings when people come into town to see the lights and soak up some Christmas atmosphere. There are plenty of things to do in Malaga – Christmas markets, lights, concerts, art exhibitions… – and lots of these events are free.
For a full calendar of December events in Malaga, check out our ‘What’s on in Malaga December’ guide.
What would you recommend in Malaga at Christmas?
- Taking an evening stroll around the city centre to look at the lights and have a few tapas.
- Walk along the seafront at sunrise to catch the first rays as they come up over the sea.
- Get up high to see the city from above at night. We recommend one of the hotel rooftop terraces.
- Visit the Christmas markets.
- Head to Plaza de la Constitución for one of the free concerts.
- Enjoy some plates of fried fish for lunch on the beach.
- Take in some amazing art – there’s a great choice of exhibitions.
What can we buy at Christmas in Malaga?
Plenty! Check out our guide to the best Malaga souvenirs for Christmas.
What is there for children to do in Malaga at Christmas?
Children will love the lights and there are Christmas attractions set up on Muelle Uno (including Santa’s grotto with reindeer) and outside the Corte Inglés department store (toboggan ride, ice rink and log-walk). Don’t miss:
- The nativity scenes (there are over 60 around the city)
- The Three Kings parade on Saturday 5 January. The Kings spend the night in the Alcazaba Fortress by boat and then set off round the city streets. Action starts at 5pm.
Find out more about things to do with children in Malaga.
What about New Year’s Eve in Malaga?
Head to Plaza de la Constitución for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Malaga. Free concert, goodie bag with mask, streamers and 12 grapes (eat 1 for each chime of the midnight bells for lots of luck in 2020). Action starts from 10pm.
Christmas is one of the loveliest times of the year in Malaga, but the city has plenty to offer all year-round. Find out what there is to do and see at any time of year with information from Guide to Malaga.
Where to stay at Christmas
The vast majority of hotels in Malaga stay open over Christmas and New Year. If you’re planning to stay over the festive period, book well in advance to get the best deals and ensure you get something to stay! The busiest periods for hotels are between 6 and 8 December (both public holidays in Spain) and from 24 December to 1 January so expect to pay peak tariff at this time. If you want to experience Christmas in Malaga and get a cheaper hotel deal, visit towards the end of November or in mid-December. There’ll be just as much atmosphere!
Getting away from Malaga at Christmas
What if you’re staying in Malaga at Christmas but fancy getting away from the city for the day? Our Guide to Malaga recommends the day and half-day trips:
- Walk the Caminito del Rey – bring a bit of adventure to your Christmas holiday!
- Visit Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Ronda… all stunning historical places with their own special magic at Christmas. And if you don’t have your own transport, book an easy day trip with a reputable company.
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