December is 1 of the busiest months of the year. Read our guide to Malaga events in December with the usual round-up of cultural activities plus lots of Christmas events. Note that dates for some events are as yet unconfirmed – we’re updating the post as we get the information.
Note too that all events are subject to possible capacity restrictions because of Covid – double-check before you book.
Public holidays in Malaga
Quick heads-up: December has 3 public holidays:
Monday 6 December is a public holiday in Spain. Banks and businesses will close all day in Malaga, but expect to find shops, cafés, bars and restaurants open as usual. The same applies to museums and monuments.
Wednesday 8 December is a public holiday in Malaga. Banks and business will be closed all day in Malaga, but shops, cafés, bars and restaurants will be open as usual. All museums and monuments open as usual except the Museum of Malaga, open until 3pm only.
Saturday 25 December (Christmas Day) is a public holiday in Spain. Just about everything closes all day in Malaga including restaurants, museums, monuments etc. However, some of the restaurants on the seafront promenade will be open as will many of those on Muelle Uno.
Sunday Christmas shopping – shops in Malaga will open on Sunday 12 December and Sunday 19 December.
For more information on public holidays in Malaga, read our dedicated post here.
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Christmas Events in Malaga
These need no introduction and those in Malaga are famed throughout Spain. The lights on Calle Larios are the highlight – the entire street is covered in tens of thousands of lights, this year themed around a festive forest with stars, angels and leaves. There are 22 arches stretching right along the street. The rest of the city centre is bedecked in different lights – the rows of lights hanging from the giant ficus trees and the sparkling almond trees on the Alameda Principal are particularly pretty.
Don’t miss the giant Christmas trees on Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza de la Marina, Plaza de Enrique García Herrera and Plaza del Obispo. plus the chandeliers in Calle San Juan and the birds in Plaza de la Merced.
Light and sound show
The show when the lights on Calle Larios flash and ‘dance’ in time to the music is taking place this year. However, there are no fixed times for the show, which can take place at any time between 7 and 10pm every evening. So, it’s pot-luck if you see it, but don’t worry if you don’t because the lights are very pretty even when they’re not ‘dancing’.
Did you know… almost 2 million LED bulbs twinkle in Malaga at Christmas.
Christmas lights in the Botanical Gardens
The lovely Concepción Botanical Gardens twinkle with millions of little lights from 6.30 to 11pm until 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.
Christmas lights on Malaga Cathedral
Malaga Cathedral provides the façade for some cool video mapping. You can see scenes from the Nativity Story on the south tower of the Cathedral and the show will project images of what the unfinished tower would look like. The display will take place sometime between 7 and 10pm (no fixed time to avoid large crowds).
Christmas lights and magic at Designer Outlet Malaga
See the Christmas lights magically come alive at this high-end shopping centre every Thursday and Sunday in December at 6.30pm and 8pm. Full details here.
Christmas music and dance in Malaga
Patio concerts – the Carmen Thyssen Museum has a series of festive concerts on during December. You can see the full programme here (in Spanish only). Entry is free but the lovely patio is small so get there early to be sure of a place.
Christmas carols – local choirs will be performing traditional Christmas carols between 6 and 8pm on Calle San Juan/Calle Nueva and Plaza de las Flores on 15,16, 17 and 23 December and on Calle Granada, Calle Molina Lario and Plaza del Obispo on 21 and 22 December.
Calle Alcazabilla – concerts (traditional Spanish carols, flamenco, jazz, gospel and children’s choirs) will take place every evening at 7pm and 8pm every day between 13 December and 23 December.
Flamenco style Christmas – the Cervantes Theatre has 2 traditional zambomba (Christmas music flamenco style) concerts. On Wednesday 22 December, Alejandro Estrada and company take to the stage at 8pm. Tickets cost €24 and are available here. And on Thursday 23 December, it’s the turn of Antonio de Verónica and Saray Cortés with dancers and singers at 8pm and tickets cost €24.
Christmas classical music concert – the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra plays Sibelius (Finland) on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 December at 8pm at the Cervantes Theatre with violinist Clara Jumi-Kang Tickets cost from €12 and are available online here.
Christmas carol concert – at St George´s Church in the English Cemetery (opposite the bullring in the Malagueta) on Wednesday 15 December at 7pm with mince pies and mulled wine afterwards plus the Christmas raffle draw.
Traditional Christmas music – For over 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) on 28 December. From noon onwards in the Recinto Ferial in Puerto de la Torre, a district to the north of Malaga. You can hear the groups play on 11 December in the Glorieta del Festero (Paseo del Parque) at noon.
Nutcracker – the Russian National Ballet perform the Christmas classic at the Cervantes Theatre on Thursday 30 December at 8pm. Tickets cost from €25 and are available online here.
Nearly 60 nativity scenes are on display around Malaga until 6 January. Ask at the tourist office for a map. Some of the biggest and most famous are:
- Cathedral – open daily 10am-2pm & 5-8.30pm
- Cofradía de Estudiantes – open Monday to Saturday 10.30am-2pm & 5.30-8pm (on Calle Alcazabilla)
- Carmen Thyssen Museum – during museum opening hours (10am to 7pm), closed Mondays.
- Diputación – one of the largest and open daily 10am to 9pm (on Calle Pacífico, western seafront).
- Archivo Municipal – larger figures set in scenery based on the Alcazaba. Open Mon-Fri 10am-1pm & 5.8pm, weekends 10am-1pm (Alameda Principal 23).
Note that nativity scenes close in the afternoons of 24 and 31 December and are closed on 25 December and 1 January.
Christmas markets in Malaga
With Christmas on the horizon, Malaga markets are a great place to start your Christmas shopping. The following take place during December in Malaga:
Sabor a Malaga – 4-day market showcasing typical produce from Malaga province (cheese, olive oil, cold cuts, pastries, chocolate, liqueurs, honey…) on Paseo del Parque from 4 to 8 December between 10am and 9pm. The Eduardo Ocón Auditorium will host showcooking, food trucks and live music (3pm daily) and the Paseo del Parque, the stalls.
Merced Market – lots of stalls selling handmade items on Plaza de la Merced. Open Saturday 4, Sunday 5, Wednesday 8 and Saturday 18 December between 11am and 7pm.
Soho Market – more stalls selling arts and crafts on Calle Tomas Heredia in the Soho district on Monday 6, Saturday 11 and Sunday 26 December from 11am to 7pm.
Muelle Uno Christmas market lots of ideas for gifts – food, arts and crafts and accessories. On the square near the Pompidou Centre entrance daily 10am to 6pm until 10 January.
Muelle Uno arts and crafts market takes place every Sunday during December on the port side. Stalls open 11am to 6pm.
Paseo del Parque – lots of stalls selling Christmas gifts, fireworks and food from noon to 8pm during the Christmas period.
Antonio Banderas and his troupe of dancers and singers perform the Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical in Teatro Soho. Banderas takes the leading role in another classic Broadway show, adapted into Spanish. Performances are Wednesday to Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday at 5 and 9.30pm and Sunday at 6pm. Tickets cost from €25 and are available online here.
Milestones in International Graphic Design
A new exhibition at the MVC Cultural Centre (Calle Ollerías 34) takes in over 120 years of graphic design and shows over 100 examples of logos, posters and designs, created worldwide since 1890. Open Monday to Friday 11am to 2pm and 5 to 9pm. Free entry.
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You can still sign up for a 42k run or half marathon (21k) around the city on Sunday 12 December. The race starts at 8.30am in the Paseo del Parque and finishes sometime later – the elite runners expect to get round in less than 3 hours 😅 And for those of us not taking part, lets give the amazing runners a big cheer as they go past!
What’s on in Malaga in December – Art exhibitions
As always, events in Malaga in December include lots of great art (whatever your favourite genre):
Carmen Thyssen Museum
The museum has just celebrated its tenth anniversary and continues to showcase Spanish art from the 18th and 19th centuries seen in the permanent collection.
Sorolla in Javea is the latest temporary exhibition at the museum and showcases over 20 works by one of Spain’s best-loved artists. All share the common theme of Javea, on the Costa Blanca, a favourite spot with Sorolla whose paintings of the sea, cliffs, children and beaches are world-famous.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 8pm. €10 (including main collection).
The Carmen Thyssen Museum has a lovely café serving coffee, light snacks and lunch. There’s a daily lunchtime menu, which is excellent value for €11.90.
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New exhibitions for December to be confirmed.
Michelangelo Pistoletto – One plus one equals three. A retrospective with more than 30 works by the Italian artist whose creations include photos, installations, sculptures and paintings. Until 5 December.
While you’re at CAC, don’t miss the permanent and Neighbours exhibitions. They’re both packed with interesting and thought-provoking art work and installations.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 6pm. Free entry.
Tuesday to Sunday 10am-8pm. Free entry.
The most-visited museum in southern Spain has its permanent collection, Conversations with Picasso 2020-2023. The exhibition explores 8 decades of artistic creativity from the 20th century’s greatest artist and it includes 19 ceramics and 3 paintings created by Picasso between 1931 and 1962. You can also see 22 works from his La Californie sketchbook, which he drew in Cannes in 1956.
In addition, there’s the temporary exhibition, Photos of the City Picasso Loved, showcasing photos of Paris taken by Brassai in the 30s and 40s. Picasso and Brassai had a long and close personal and professional relationship while they lived in the City of Light and this exhibition pays homage to that. As well as photos, on display are also Brassai’s book cover designs and sculptures.
Open daily 11am to 6pm. Tickets €9, free Sundays after 5pm. Note that the Picasso Museum café is currently closed 😞
This art museum in Malaga has a permanent exhibition and 2 temporary ones.
This year’s exhibition takes War and Peace as its central theme with 183 works by Russian masters and French and German artists with ties with Russia. Expect to see references to epic battles, the October Revolution and World War I. The works include, as always, paintings and sculptures and provide unique insight into Russian life and culture. Read our guide to this exhibition.
Avant-garde in Russian Art – one of the most important artistic movements in early 20th-century Europe and this exhibition celebrates its expression in Russian artists. They include Kandinsky and Chagall as well as numerous others. Expect to see works in the style of abstraction, constructivism, futurism and neo-primitivism.
Mayakovsky, Poet and Artist – a prominent artist in the Futurist movement, Mayakovsky is known for his revolutionary ‘calling’.
Bi-centenary of Dostoevsky – a small exhibition honours one of the greatest Russian authors in the year of the bi-centenary of his birth. On show are portraits as well as illustrations from his books and recreations of the rooms where he wrote.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 9.30am to 8pm. Permanent exhibition €6, temporary exhibitions €4, €8 combined ticket. Free on Sundays after 5pm.
The multi-coloured cube includes A Century of Spanish Art from Miró to Barceló exhibition. As usual, you can expect to see an eclectic collection of paintings, videos, installations and sculptures. Read about the latest art.exhibition in Malaga here.
Sophie Calle, one of France’s best contemporary photographers and video artists, arrives on 19 November with a temporary exhibition that takes in her 40-year career behind and in front of the lens. From 19 November to 17 April 2022.
Open Wednesday to Monday 9.30am to 8pm. €7 for the permanent exhibition, €9 for both. Free Sundays after 5pm.
Top tip – art museums in Malaga have free entry on Sunday afternoons.
La Termica Cultural Centre
La Termica Cultural Centre welcomes American photographer Dennis Manarchy and Metal, an exhibition of photos of silver-sprayed models. As well as shining brightly, the models are wearing whacky objects from Radio Guy’s (aka Steve Erenberg) collection.
See it until 15 January 2022. Open Tuesday to Friday 3 to 8.30pm and weekends, 11am to 2pm and 5 to 8.30pm. Free entry.
Get to La Térmica by walking west along the seafront (the cultural centre is behind the modern glass Diputación building) or on the No 7 bus from the Alameda Principal (south side).
Heads-up for what’s on in Malaga in January
Events in the first month of 2022 include the Three Kings Parade and Malaga Theatre Festival. Stay up to date with what’s on with our free fortnightly newsletter. You’ll be the first to know!