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.
Public holidays in Malaga
Quick heads-up: December has 3 public holidays:
Friday 6 December is a public holiday in Spain. Banks, business and shops will close all day in Malaga, but expect to find cafés, bars and restaurants open as usual. The same applies to museums and monuments. Some will close early – for example, the Museum of Malaga closes at 3pm.
Monday 9 December is a public holiday in Malaga (the official holiday is the day before (8th), but as it’s a Sunday, the public holiday is moved to Monday). 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.
Wednesday 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 15 December and Sunday 22 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 and all the lights flash in time to music at 6.30, 8 and 9.30pm. Calle Alcazabilla also has a light and sound show – a video projected onto the walls of the Alcazaba tells a Christmas story at 6.30, 8 and 9.30pm every evening until 5 January. The giant ficus trees on the newly-pedestrianised Alameda Principal come decked in fairy lights this year for the first time since 2015 and lights project onto the trees nearest Calle Larios showing a video at 7.15pm, 9pm and 10.15pm.
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 long line of lights that shine along the Paseo del Parque.
Did you know… almost 2 million LED bulbs twinkle in Malaga at Christmas.
Christmas Music in Malaga
Traditional concert – Malaga’s Theatre School (ESAEM) gives its annual concert on Wednesday 4 December at 7.30pm in the Carmen Thyssen Museum. The choir and musicians are excellent and usually perform a mixture of traditional and modern music. Their rendition of Bohemian Rapsody last year was extraordinary! Get there early to be sure of a seat.
Plaza de la Constitución – concerts (traditional Spanish carols, flamenco and children’s choirs) will take place every evening at 6.45pm and 8.15pm every day between 17 December and 29 December. Expect a mixture of traditional Spanish Christmas carols, flamenco and pop.
Bach Christmas concert – the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra plays Bach’s Christmas Oratory at the Edgar Neville Auditorium in the Diputación (on the western seafront) on Friday 13 December (8.30pm) and Saturday 14 December (8pm). Tickets cost €15 and are available here.
Christmas classical music concert – the Instruments of Time and Truth Orchestra together with the Oxford Voices choir and 6 choirs from Malaga perform Messiahs by Handel on Friday 13 December (7.30pm) at the Cervantes Theatre. (Take your hanky!)
Christmas Ballets – Sleeping Beauty danced by the St Petersburg Classical Ballet Company at the Cervantes Theatre should get you in the mood for Christmas. Wednesday 11 December at 8pm. Tickets from €15 here. And just after Christmas, the same company performs Swan Lake on Thursday 26 December at 8pm. Tickets from €15 here.
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – at St George´s Church in the English Cemetery (opposite the bullring in the Malagueta) on Thursday 19 December at 7.30pm.
Christmas Flamenco – Carols adapted to the zambomba flamenco style together with dancers and singers at the Cervantes Theatre on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 December at 8pm. Tickets cost €20 and you can buy them here.
Cathedral Christmas concerts – Malaga Cathedral celebrates the following Christmas concerts:
- Spanish carol concert on Thursday 19 December at noon.
- Young Baroque Orchestra of Andalucia on Monday 23 December at 8pm plays Pachebel, Locatelli, Vivaldi, Handel and Bach.
- Organ recital on Tuesday 24 December (Christmas Eve) at 11.20pm. Perhaps the ultimate Christmas concert?
Top tip – join the queue outside the Cathedral entrance early to be sure of a place.
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). 28 December from noon onwards in the Recinto Ferial in Puerto de la Torre, a district to the north of Malaga.
Over 60 nativity scenes are on display around Malaga until 6 January. Ask at the tourist office for a map or take a look at this map (click on the stables for address and timetable). Some of the biggest and most famous are:
- Cathedral – open daily 10am-2pm & 5-8.30pm
- Cofradía de Estudiantes – open daily 10.30am-1.30pm & 5-8pm (on Calle Alcazabilla)
- Carmen Thyssen Museum – during museum opening hours, closed Mondays.
- Archivo Municipal – larger figures set in scenery based on the Alcazaba. Open Mon-Fri 10am-1pm & 5.8pm, weekends 10am-1pm (Alameda Principal 23)
- Diputación (on Calle Pacifico, next to La Térmica cultural centre – get here on the No 7 bus) – open daily 10am -9pm (until 5pm on 24 December and 31 January, closed 25 December and 1 January). This is one of the biggest nativity scenes in the province with 180 square metres of Biblical scenes, lighting and animated sections including two rivers. Plus some well-known Malaga landmarks including the Caminito del Rey! Music and narrative (in Spanish only) plays every hour on the hour.
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:
Christmas Fayre – the annual event takes place at St George’s Church in the English Cemetery (Avda de Pries, just east of the bullring) on Sunday 1 December from 12.30 to 2.30pm. Opportunity to buy gifts, second-hand books, cakes and bakes, and try your luck on that very English institution, the tombola!
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 10pm until 6 January.
Muelle Uno arts and crafts market takes place every Sunday during December on the port side. Stalls open 11am to 7pm.
Red Friday takes place at La Térmica Cultural Centre on Friday 8 December from 7pm to midnight. As well as 50 stalls selling vintage goods there’s live music and food trucks.
Christmas Food Market in the Paseo del Parque (just follow the delicious smell of food!) Thursday 5 December to Monday 9 December from 11am to 9pm. Sponsored by Sabor a Málaga, the Malaga produce promotion company, lots of stalls selling typical produce from the province including cold cuts, cheese, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, honey, wine, beer… Opportunities to try before you buy.
Paseo del Parque – lots of stalls selling Christmas gifts, fireworks and food from noon to midnight during the Christmas period.
Christmas Sporting Events in Malaga
The highlight of the running year takes place in December – the Malaga Marathon is on Sunday 15 December starting at 9am in Paseo del Parque and running 42k around the city before returning to the starting point. A great way to lose weight before the Christmas excesses but we’ll be watching rather than participating!
Shorter runs also take place including the San Silvestre run on Tuesday 31 December at 10pm. The 10km race starts and ends at the Rosaleda Football Stadium.You can sign up here.
Read about the 5 best places for running in Malaga.
Christmas in Malaga for children
Children will love the lights and nativity scenes, and:
- Muelle Uno – funfair rides and Santa’s grotto complete with reindeer. Santa’s open for requests between 2nd December and 5th January (he overlaps a bit with the 3 Kings there) from noon to 2.30pm and 5 to 8pm.
- Corte Inglés esplanade – as usual, the department store has set up its Christmas attractions. Enjoy the ice rink, toboggan ride, log walk and merry-go-round. Open daily during shop hours (10am to 10pm).
For more information on things to do with children in Malaga, click here.
What’s on in Malaga in December – botanical garden visits
The Jardín de la Concepción botanical gardens continue their evening visits in December. They take place on Saturday 7, 14, 21 and 28 December at 7.30pm. Tickets cost €7.50 per person and you can reserve yours by phoning 951 926 180.
Performances in Malaga in December
Christmas aside, there’s also a full programme of concerts and dance performances. Highlights include:
Danza Malaga Festival
The 2019 runs until 14 December. As usual, there’s an eclectic line-up with all genres of dance featuring companies from all over the world. Most performances take place at the Cervantes Theatre with the others at the Echegaray Theatre.
Showcasing modern dance are performances such as The Lamb with Italian and Spanish dancers, Bow by the K-arts Dance Company from Korea and Suddenly III by Osa Mujika from the Basque Country. Classic Spanish dance takes centre stage with Electra and flamenco makes an appearance too. There’s also a performance of the contemporary version of Carmen.
Full details of the Danza Malaga programme can be found here.
A Chorus Line
Antonio Banderas´ production of the famous musical has opened to great acclaim from the critics and plays at the newly restored Teatro Alameda (we love the new façade!) in Calle Córdoba until 19 January. Ticket prices start at €18 (although be prepared to pay a lot more for reasonable seats) and are available online here (in Spanish only). Or you can buy them from the Teatro Alameda ticket office, open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 4 to 9pm.
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 Carmen Thyssen Museum continues to offer exceptional art in Malaga. This autumn’s temporary exhibition welcomes Arabian Fantasy featuring paintings by Spanish artists between 1860 and 1900. The central theme is North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) and the 70 works depict the people, customs and landscapes found by the artists in the second half of the 19th century. Be sure to check out the great themed gifts in the museum shop.
Until 1 February Tues-Sun 10am-8pm. €10 combo ticket for permanent and temporary exhibition. Reduced rate of €6 if you visit between 2.30 and 4pm. Free entry on Sundays from 5pm onwards.
Both the Picasso Museum (see below) and Carmen Thyssen Museum have lovely cafés serving coffee, light snacks and lunch.
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CAC Malaga has 2 exhibitions in December.
Eleuthera by Sean Scully – the 40 works on display by the Irish artist include large-format paintings, photos and drawings of Scully’s son on the beach in the Caribbean. Geometric shapes and bright colours take centre stage on a set of unusual paintings. Read more about this exhibition here.
Dracula x Dracula – remember the iconic Dracula ice lolly? Some 70 works – paintings, photos, drawings and sculptures – take the Dracula lolly as their central theme. Until 2 February.
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.
Tuesday to Sunday 10am-8pm. Free entry.
The most visited museum in southern Spain (and one of the top museums in Malaga) hosts one of the big art exhibitions in Malaga this autumn featuring American artist Calder and Picasso. The pieces in the collection compare the 2 contemporary artists’ take on empty space.
Until 2 Feb. Daily 10am-7pm (6pm from Nov-Feb). €5.50 (€10 combined permanent and temporary exhibition).
You can still catch this year’s main exhibition on Women in Art in Russia. The interesting collection includes early icons, typical costumes, objects from the Russian court and lots of portraits showing women in all facets of life. Recommended. You can also see:
In Search of Shambhala: 70 works by the master of Russian symbolism, Nikolai Roerich, are on show. Roerich was one of the most prominent artists in Russia during the first half of the 20th century as well as an archaeologist and promoter of culture and peace. He journeyed to the East for five years between 1923 and 1928 and Tibet and the Himalayas (see the photo below) make up one of the main topics for his paintings. You can also see his take on Russian legends and folklore in paintings that remind you of comic strips.
Anna Ajmátova: the Russian poet takes central stage in another of the temporary exhibitions and continues the Russian Museum’s theme of women this year. The collection showcases portraits of Ajmátova and the men in her life alongside her poetry and books.
Until 1 March 2020. Tues-Sun 9.30am-8pm. Entry to the temporary exhibitions costs €4, a combined ticket €8. Free entry on Sundays after 5pm.
The multi-coloured cube houses Modern Utopias taking you round European ideals in art with some of the continent’s greatest painters on display. Picasso, Kandinsky, Miró, Le Corbusier and Chagall all rub shoulders with fun installations including a revolving nose, sheep on wheels and sardine-tin bed, plus some great videos.
Remember those? This interactive space that is perfect for kids plays homage to the earliest cinema will teach you how to make a magic lantern. Until April 2020.
Open Wednesday to Monday 9.30am to 8pm. €7
La Termica Cultural Centre
Surrealist Lee Miller – a model for Vogue, a World War Two correspondent and Man Ray’s lover, assistant and muse, Lee Miller ranks among the world’s most famous photographers. You can see over 100 of her photos on display at La Termica until 26 February, Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 2pm and 5 to 9pm. Free entry. Get to La Termica on the No 7 bus from the Alameda Principal or walk along the western seafront.
The first UNICAJA exhibition at Bishop’s Palace showcases one of the most famous Spanish artists from the 19th century. Sorolla is best-known for his beach scenes on the sands in Valencia and for the giant panels he painted for the library at the New York Hispanic Society. The new ‘Inland Sorolla’ exhibition includes both these themes as well as over 100 paintings of inland Spain as the artist saw it on his travels. Expect to see a very different Sorolla and get an insight into Spanish rural life.
Bishop’s Palace: Monday to Friday 10am to 8pm, weekends 9am to 2pm. €3.
Top tip – art museums in Malaga have free entry on Sundays after.4pm.
Cinema in Malaga in December
Three film events of note take place in Malaga in December:
Silent horror movies
CAC Malaga (next to the river) has organised a trio of silent horror movies taking you back to classic film genres. All films are shown in their original version (with Spanish subtitles), although there (obviously) isn’t a lot of dialogue but plenty of dramatic music. 7pm in the CAC auditorium, free entry.
- Nosferatu (Germany, 1922) – Thursday 5 December
- The Phantom of the Opera (US, 1925) – Thursday 12 December
- The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Germany, 1920) – Thursday 19 December
Homage to Martin Scorsese
After the recent debut of Scorsese’s latest film, The Irishman, the Albeniz Cinema is running a short season of some of his most famous films. See them in English (with Spanish subtitles) for €4.50 at 8.30pm
- Raging Bull – Thursday 5 December
- The Colour of Money – Thursday 19 December
- Goodfellas – Thursday 26 December
- The Age of Innocence – Thursday 2 January 2020
The Albeniz Cinema is also showing art films and independent cinema at this year’s Beat festival from 6 to 12 December at 8pm. All films are in their original version (in brackets below) with Spanish subtitles. Tickets cost €5 and are available on the door.
- Friday 6 December – Papicha (Arabic), a French film directed by Mounia Meddour.
- Saturday 7 December – Ema (Spanish), directed by Pablo Larraín in Chile.
- Sunday 8 December – Children of the Sea (Japonese) by Ayumum Watanabe
- Monday 9 December – It must be heaven (English, French, Arabic) by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman
- Tuesday 10 December – Proxima (English, French), a French film by Alice Winocour
- Wednesday 11 December – J’accuse (French), directed by Roman Polanski
- Thursday 12 December – Dylda (Russian) by the Russian director Kantemir Balagor.
Heads-up for what’s on in Malaga in January
The Cervantes Theatre celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020 so keep an eye open for special events.
Malaga Theatre Festival takes place from 8 January to 9 February with 40 performances on the stage at different venues in town, mostly at the Cervantes Theatre and Echegaray Theatre. They include Bells & Spells,a clown-cabaret show starring Victoria Thierrée-Chaplin and Young Frankenstein, a musical based on the Mel Brooks film.