Line your boots up at the door and get out onto the street. If you’re looking to experience Spain at it’s most authentic, the 5th of January is the first big date you should have your calendar for 2017. The Cabalgata de Reyes.
In the Christian calendar, the 6th of January marks the Epiphany. The day when 3 kings from Europe, Arabia, and Africa, arrived at Bethlehem to pay homage to the baby Jesus. In Spain this is known as the far more descriptive “Día de Los Reyes Magos” (Three Kings Day). But its nickname, Spain’s Second Christmas, might give you a better idea as to what goes on here. Similar to our friend up North, these three regal visitors go from house to house on the eve of the celebrations giving presents to all the children who have been good that year.
That being said, you can forget the sleigh. These are Kings we are talking about here, and they like to make an entrance.
That’s why as the sun sets on the 5th of January, Spain sees some of it’s biggest parades of the year. As its cities welcome in 3 true blue-blooded Santa Clauses.
The Cabalgata de Reyes (Cabalgata meaning “procession on horseback”) is one of the brightest and most colourful celebrations of the year. Perfect for those littlest of Spain Explorers. Giant mechanised elephants, giant hot air balloon jellyfish, and 3 story high fairies, are just some of the dazzling sights we have seen in previous years.
And best of all, the Kings and their cronies throw out sweets as they make their way through the crowd. Enough to convince you? It sure is for us!
This years parade will feature more than 1,500 participants, from musicians, to actors, to acrobats, and of course the odd crown wearing aristocrat. The Cabalgata de Reyes will leave Nuevos Ministerios at 18:30 before heading down Paseo de la Castellana until it reaches Plaza de Cibeles. Where the final showdown will take place at around 20:45.
Wrap up warm and get there early for a good spot in the crowds. And bring an upside-down umbrella to maximise your candy-catching-capacity. But make sure you’re not blocking anyone’s view!
Can’t make the Cabalgata de Reyes? Find another parade near you!
This year it’s not just about what’s going in Cibeles.
Get ready for not 1 but 19 parades across the Spanish Capital. 15 city districts will be setting up their own Cabalgata de Reyes. These are Barajas, Carabanchel, Chamartín, Ciudad Lineal, Fuencarral-El Pardo, Hortaleza, Latina, Moratalaz, Puente de Vallecas, San Blas-Canillejas, Usera, Vicálvaro, Villa de Vallecas, and Villaverde.
Also, Fuencarral-El Pardo and Villaverde, owing to their size, will be holding 2 parades each. These will be in Montecarmelo-Barrio del Pilar y Las Tablas, and Villaverde Alto y Villaverde Bajo, respectively.
Also Puente de Vallecas will be opening a free iceskating rink to add to the celebrations. But if you fancy popping your skates somewhere closer to home, check out our favourite rinks around the city!
Need any more insider’s tips on what to do for Three Kings Day? Check out our guide on what to do, see and eat on the 5th and 6th of January.