Christmas with children in Spain? Fun is guaranteed!
Every year, on 5 January, Spain’s towns and villages welcome the traditional and joyful visit of three Kings from the East. They are Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, better known as the Magi, who traditionally bring children excitement and gifts on Epiphany. Come to Spain with your children to discover together the traditions and new ways of to celebrate, made to entertain all ages during the festive season.
If you’re thinking of making the most of the Christmas holiday with the family, your kids are in for a treat, because here the holiday season continues until 6 January, and children are the centre of attention. Here are a few ways to have fun with your family:
The letter to the Three Kings
For your children to enjoy the traditions in the most exciting way, there is something that can't be missed: the letter all the children in Spain write to the Three Kings. Encourage them to make a list of all the presents they would like to receive this year for being good. All they need to do is hand in their letter before 5 January to one of the Royal Pages, usually present in the main shopping centres and central town squares in Spain. A walk through the streets filled with coloured lights, Christmas trees, and shop windows full of toys will be guaranteed fun.
The most important moment is on the afternoon and evening of 5 January, when there are parades of the Three Kings throughout Spain. This exciting experience represents the journey of the Magi on their camels, following the star until they came to the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The biggest processions are spectacular, with floats carrying children’s characters as well as the Kings, all throwing sweets into the crowd and waving at the awestruck children. You’ll find a traditional parade at whichever destination you choose to visit. Which will you choose? The grand scale of Madrid, Barcelona, where the Kings arrive on a boat, or perhaps Alcoy (Alicante), the oldest parade in Spain?
Presents and a special cake
According to tradition, children must go to bed early on 5 January, first setting out their shoes for the Kings to leave presents in when they visit all the homes later that night. In some homes, it is a tradition for people to leave a glass of anise for them, to perk them up for their long journey. The next day is Reyes, a public holiday, and children wake up early to play with their new toys. Also, on 6 January, most restaurants and hotels in Spain offer special meals ending with a delicious traditional cake: roscón de Reyes. Another anecdote? All of these cakes (often filled with whipped cream, chocolate truffle, etc.) have a hidden surprise inside. Whoever finds it will have a lucky year.
Amusement parks dress up for the holidays
There is plenty more to do with the kids at Christmas, as well as the Three Kings’ parade. For example, Spain’s biggest amusement parks pull out all the stops, with lights and decorations, magic shows, and Christmas characters your children will love.
Here are some to choose from: Isla Mágica, in Seville (Andalusia) is themed around the discovery of America. In Madrid you'll find Parque Warner, which features characters like Tweety Pie in a Christmas setting. If your destination is Barcelona, don’t miss Port Aventura with its mascots Woody and Winnie, its ice-skating shows, and its talking tree. Another great choice - Terra Mítica, in Benidorm (Alicante), with rides themed around civilisations, such as ancient Egypt.
One last bit of advice: take your camera so you can capture all the memories of the best Christmas ever. Because on top of all this, Spain has living Nativity scenes, and even more traditions, like the Olentzero in the Basque Country (a coal-miner who brings children presents on 25 December)… Enjoy the contagious good cheer of this very special time of year.