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 events referred to in this post are dependent on covid-19 health and safety regulations. Bookmark this page and keep an eye on the updates!
Malaga Christmas Lights
Malaga Christmas lights are up and ready!
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 2021, the date for the Malaga Christmas lights switch-on will be Friday 26 November at 7pm. The light and sound show has been confirmed and will take place at some point between 7 and 10pm every evening. It’ll be a different time every evening and not announced in advance to avoid large crowds gathering. Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra has recorded the 5 festive tunes that include (of course!) Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas. But don’t worry if you miss the music, the lights are very pretty and there’ll be a great Christmas atmosphere!
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!).
The Alameda Principal also takes centre stage again this year with 500 leaf-themed hanging lights in the ficus trees (lovely in the day too) and six brightly-lit almond trees.
Apart from Calle Larios, almost 2 million LED bulbs light up Malaga this Christmas – Calle San Juan (parallel to Calle Nueva) has got extra festive this year with 24 giant Christmas chandeliers and an ‘Enchanted Garden’. Look out for 5 giant trees:
- Plaza de la Marina.
- Plaza de la Constitución – you can go “inside” the tree.
- 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.
This cool technique projects 3D imagery onto buildings accompanied by light and sound and this year, it’s Malaga Cathedral’s turn to provide the façade. You can see scenes from the Nativity Story, a snowstorm and a gingerbread house on the south tower of the Cathedral. The display will take place four times every evening sometime between 6.30 and 10pm from 28 November to 6 January. Times are displayed on the tower every evening.
The lights are switched on every evening over the Christmas period between 6.30pm and midnight. They’re turned off on 6 January 2021 at midnight, the day after the Three Kings parade.
Opening times during Christmas in Malaga
Which days are public holidays in Malaga over Christmas 2021?
- Saturday 25 December (Christmas Day)
- Saturday 1 January (New Year’s Day)
- Thursday 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, check travel restrictions first and if provincial borders are open, 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
Christmas is usually 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. This year is of course different, but there are still 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.
Christmas lights in the Botanical Gardens
The lovely Concepción Botanical Gardens will twinkle with millions of little lights this Christmas from 6.30 to 11pm, 27 November to 9 January. The light trail runs for 2.2km around the gardens where you’ll also find Christmas bells and a “laser garden”. Tickets cost from €12 per person and there are discounts for families, senior citizens and students. All the information and link to ticket booking here.
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)
Find out more about things to do with children in Malaga.
What about New Year’s Eve in Malaga?
No New Year events have been confirmed yet although we expect them to be very low-key. Bookmark this page for future reference.
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 2021 – we could all do with some of that!). 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
Among the hotels in Malaga open for Christmas and New Year, we recommend you stay at any of the following (listed in alphabetical order):
AC Malaga Palacio – book a room on one of the upper floors for fabulous views. Book now.
Del Pintor – cosy and funky design. Book now.
Gran Hotel Miramar – 5* GL on the Malagueta seafront. And this Christmas, not an expensive treat. Book now.
Ilunion – large and modern plus handy for the train station. Book now.
La Chancla – on the beach in Pedregalejo plus freshly roasted coffee for breakfast. Book now.
Molina Lario – modern and spacious, near the Cathedral. Matriz restaurant is open on Christmas Day (25 December) and New Year’s Eve 31 December). Book now.
NH Malaga – recently refurbished and right on the river. Book now.
Parador Gibralfaro – with some of the best views in town. Restaurant open on Christmas Day (25 December) and New Year’s Eve 31 December). Book now.
Soho Boutique Colón – good-value hotel in a recently refurbished late 19th century building in the Soho district. Book now.
Soho Boutique La Equitativa – new for 2021 and with possibly the best Christmas light views in town. Book now.
Vincci Malaga – a modern hotel on the western seafront so handy for sunny seafront walks on Christmas Day. Book now.
Vincci Selección Posada del Patio – one of the grandest hotels in the city with 5* elegance and some stunning ruins in the basement. Book now.
The busiest periods (usually) 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.
Stay up to date with what’s happening at Christmas in Malaga – sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter. All you need to know about what’s on and what’s new in the city in your inbox every other Friday.