Christmas in Alicante, 2023: Traditions, Food, Decorations
In Spain, the cherished holiday season of Christmas, known as Navidad, spans from December 24 to January 6, a spirited time where Spaniards come together joyfully with family and friends. This period reflects a blend of pagan and Christian customs, beginning with the celebration of Jesus’ birth on December 25, followed by the exuberant Nochevieja or New Year’s Eve on December 31, bidding farewell to the year and welcoming the new one. The festivities culminate with el Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, the Three Kings’ Day, on January 6, signifying the conclusion of the Christmas holiday season.
The allure of the Spanish Christmas, lasting two weeks until January 6, beckons visitors to experience the enchanting festive atmosphere, making it an ideal destination from mid-December to New Year’s. The richness of traditions and events during these festivities has made Spain a cultural hub, drawing travelers seeking authentic holiday experiences. Here are six beloved Spanish Christmas attractions. Spain’s Christmas celebration is adorned with distinctive local customs and traditions that may seem extraordinary to outsiders but hold deep significance.
Let’s explore some Spanish fascinating and unique traditions:
- “El Gordo” Christmas Lottery
Kicking off the festive spirit on December 22 is "El Gordo," the grand prize in the National Christmas Lottery. This widely popular event captivates participants, who eagerly follow the morning draw. Children, in a captivating spectacle, melodiously sing the winning numbers, spreading joyous celebrations into the streets.
- La Nochevieja: New Year's Eve
As the Christmas festivities wind down, the excitement peaks for La Nochevieja, New Year's Eve, a time when Spanish revelers eagerly anticipate the arrival of the new year. Beyond a mere countdown, it's a night of vibrant traditions and joyful gatherings with loved ones.
A delightful and unique Spanish custom during this celebration involves consuming 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight. With each chime representing the impending 12 months, the tradition signifies luck and prosperity for the coming year. This joyous ritual is embraced across the country, whether on television broadcasts or in lively public squares like Madrid's renowned Puerta del Sol, where locals and tourists unite to welcome the new year amidst an electrifying atmosphere.
While some prefer the comfort of their homes, many families seize the chance to witness dazzling fireworks displays. For a more immersive experience, some opt for a memorable New Year's Eve cruise, relishing the festive spirit against the backdrop of a stunning cityscape.
La Nochevieja isn't just a countdown; it's a spirited celebration where cherished customs blend seamlessly with the thrill of new beginnings.
- The Twelve Grapes Tradition
Spaniards embrace the New Year by consuming 12 grapes—one for each chime of the clock—symbolizing luck and fresh perspectives. This tradition, observed across the country, fosters a communal spirit whether in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol or in smaller towns, where people come together to welcome the New Year in Spanish style.
- Radiant Christmas Lights
The festive spirit illuminates Spain with colorful lights adorning major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Vigo, and Malaga, inviting visitors to enchanting Christmas strolls. From November's end, streets come alive with Nativity scenes, Christmas fairs, and delectable street food like roasted chestnuts, creating a mesmerizing ambiance.
- Savoring Spanish Christmas Cuisine
Amidst Spain's renowned seafood offerings, Christmas specialties grace tables on December 24, featuring Serrano ham, fish, and king prawns. Indulge in Christmas desserts like almond sweet turrón, while the Roscón de Reyes, a cake with hidden surprises, marks the start of the menu on January 6, Three Kings’ Day.
- Portal de Belén in Alicante
Alicante celebrates Christmas with picturesque Nativity Scenes displayed at iconic locations like the Alicante City Hall and Plaza De la Montañeta. These scenes, ranging from modest depictions to elaborate town settings, honor the essence of Christmas in the city.
- The Magic Night of the Three Wise Men in Alicante
In Alicante, the anticipation builds on January 5 as the city prepares for the arrival of the Three Wise Men, who bring gifts for children. Amidst pompous processions and grand parades, children eagerly retire to bed, anticipating the arrival of these mystical figures who distribute gifts.
Experience Christmas Magic in Alicante: Your Ultimate Holiday Plan
Step 1: Marvel at the Colossal Nativity Scene
Start your festive journey by witnessing Alicante's monumental Nativity scene, towering 20 meters high in front of city hall of Alicante. This Guinness Book of Records-worthy display, featuring Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, Baby Jesus, and newly added figures of the Three Wise Men, is an awe-inspiring portrayal of Jesus' birth. Emulating the ephemeral artistry of the Bonfires of San Juan, this larger-than-life scene captivates visitors. Don't miss this spectacle between December 5th and January 6th.
Step 2: Explore Alicante's Christmas Cribs and Markets
Immerse yourself in the city's enchanting Christmas traditions. Start at the Palacio Municipal, where a charming Christmas tree and bustling flea market brimming with holiday delights await. Glide across the traditional Christmas ice-rink in Plaza de Torros and explore the Museo de Belenes on Calle San Agustin, showcasing a diverse array of nativity figures year-round. Head to Plaza de la Montaneta for an open-air Christmas crib featuring four distinct scenes. Nearby markets along Avenidas Soto and Doctor Gadea offer traditional shopping experiences amid the festive bustle.
Step 3: Indulge in Christmas Sweets in Jijona
Venture to Jijona, known for its exceptional nougats and sweets. Experience the Xixona Christmas Fair, a magical spectacle engulfing the town center with the delightful aroma of sugared almonds. Delight in high-quality nougats and sweets, witness local crafts, participate in workshops, and enjoy festive activities. Explore this sweet haven from December 3rd to the 8th for an authentic taste of Christmas.
Step 4: Stroll through Illuminated Alicante
Embark on an evening adventure through the illuminated streets of Alicante. Starting November 18th, the city dazzles with 2.6 million LED bulbs adorning every corner. Witness the city's vibrant Christmas lighting, best experienced at Plaza de los Luceros, Gerona, or Rafael Altamira streets. Don't miss the stunning 18-meter Christmas tree in Paseo de avenida de Constitucion and the and some more Christmas decoration in Canalejas Square, where captivating sound and light shows unfold daily at 7, 8, and 9 p.m.
Step 5: Capture the Festive Spirit
Immerse yourself in the city's cheerful atmosphere, bustling shopping districts, and delightful restaurants. Engage in the numerous holiday-themed events, immerse in local traditions, and relish the joyous spirit of Christmas in Alicante.
Follow these steps for an unforgettable Christmas experience, embracing the magic and vibrancy of Alicante during this festive season. Experience the awe-inspiring and quirky Christmas and New Year traditions unique to Spain. Whether adopting these customs or relishing the festivities here, immersing in Spain's vibrant holiday spirit is an experience worth savoring. For guidance in planning your holidays in Alicante or throughout Spain, feel free to reach out to us.