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Celebrating Christmas and the New Year in Spain

Those of you with holiday homes in warmer locations will know what a treat it is to celebrate Christmas abroad. It’s a time to create new traditions and enjoy old ones and Christmas in Spain is a real treat. There are celebrations throughout the festive season and don’t miss the biggest and oldest lottery in the world, El Gordo or the fat one!

Malaga is a particularly lovely place to celebrate, with its welcome dose of winter sunshine. There are plenty of exciting things to do to make your first Spanish Christmas an unforgettable celebration.

Christmas lights

From the Plaza de General Torrijos to the Alameda Principal, the city centre of Malaga is a carnival of sparkling light. Decorated Christmas trees and a stunning sound and light show on the Calle Larios to your favourite festive tunes will get you in the Christmas spirit.

Over 2 million LED bulbs are used to create this spectacular, making it one of the biggest attractions in the area. The lights are lit until the end of the fabulous Three Kings Parade on 5 January when 4 million sweets are up for grabs! Starting in the port and processing through the town, this will be the highlight of any child’s year.

Traditional Christmas music

If you want to participate in some old Spanish traditions, head for the traditional verdiales competition. Over 30 groups of dancers and musicians from the mountain villages east of Malaga entertain the crowds with traditional folk music.

Malaga’s Nativity scenes

Nativity scenes or belenes appear all over Spain in the run-up to Christmas. Once only to be found in churches and chapels, you’ll now find beautifully decorated nativities in cultural centres, museums and even department stores.

The Malaga tourist office organises a Nativity trail every Christmas and you can get a map of the over 60 different scenes from the tourist office.

Christmas shopping

You can’t enjoy Christmas anywhere without presents and the super shopping streets around Calle Nueva and Calla Larios offer plenty of opportunities to find that unique gift.

Spaniards exchange gifts on the 6 January, so that’s when the shops are at their most hectic. But if you stick to British tradition and exchange gifts on Christmas Day, you can browse in relative peace and quiet. The narrow lanes around the Thyssen museum are a great place to enjoy the atmosphere of old Malaga’s bustling lanes and there are plenty of curios and mementos to be found.

A new spin on Christmas dinner

The Spanish enjoy a real feast on Christmas Eve and anything goes. From turkey with truffles to lobster, suckling pig, cheeses and hams, the only rule is to eat well. Don’t forget to eat 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve, one on each stroke of the chimes to ensure good luck for the New Year.

If you’re lucky enough to be celebrating in Malaga you’re in for a real treat. The bakeries are heaving with traditional cakes and sweets and other traditional Christmas fare. Turron nougat, marzipan and roscos de vino – traditional wine and aniseed biscuits – are all well worth a try to end your Christmas dinner in style.

Feliz Navidad to you all!

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