All occasions are good to party in Spain! As the French shoot the kings, the Spanish children are patiently waiting for Epiphany Day to receive their gifts. On the occasion of the Cavalcade of the Three Kings, on horseback or camel, the streets fill with people - and sweets - for a magical evening. If you want to attend this one of a kind party, follow our Star of the Shepherd…
Christmas in January
The “dia dels Reis”, Epiphany Day, is a special moment for children in Catalonia and all over Spain. The country remains very attached to commemorations and ancestral rites, especially when they are religious. Unlike French children, it is only on the night of January 5 to 6 that the little Spaniards receive their Christmas presents, brought by the Three Kings. This celebration, which marks the end of the Christmas cycle, begins with the arrival of Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspard on January 5 at the end of the afternoon, dressed in their superb costumes. The children, before going to bed, leave beside the window a pair of shoes (to put the gifts), a bucket of water (for the camels) and food for the Three Kings, very tired by their journey through Spain. But be careful, whoever is awake and sees the Three Kings will not receive anything!
The arrival of the Kings
According to the Spanish cities, the entry of the Three Kings is done either by sea, or on horseback or camel back: in all cases, it is the "cavalcade", or cabalgata in Spanish. According to tradition, the first parade of its kind took place in Alcoy (Alicante) in the region of Valencia, in 1866. But it was not until years later that the parade was repeated every year. In each city, the crowd attends a sumptuous parade. In Alcoy, on the evening of January 5, the Three Kings arrive on camels in a spectacular cavalcade, accompanied by a hundred people dressed in black who distribute toys and sweets to children. They even climb buildings using human ladders in order to reach the most distant children. In Madrid, each district organizes its own parade, the Three Kings and their procession parade through the streets throwing tons of sweets.
The Three Kings on the Ramblas
In Barcelona, the spectacle is worth the detour since the Kings arrive by sea in the early evening (around 19 p.m.). By the time Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspard reach dry land, 21 cannon shots are fired from Montjuic Castle. Once down, each king takes his place in a cardboard coach that leaves from Plaza Portal de la Pau and goes up the Ramblas towards the center of the city, Plaza Catalunya. Accompanied by disguised people, musicians, dancers, jugglers and acrobats, the Three Wise Men throw candy at the crowd, especially at the children, who have come in large numbers to see them. Between 19 p.m. and 21:30 p.m., it is therefore a must in Barcelona. Music, lights and a parade, all the ingredients are there to honor the entry of the Kings into the city! A show to see at least once in your life, for those who have kept their child's soul.
There are many tourist offices of Barcelona. Here is the contact details of one of them, where you can get information about the event in French: Palau Robert, Passeig de Gracia, 107. M.: Passeig de Gracia. Phone. : (00 34) 93-238-40-00.
Where to sleep ?
Hotel Oliva: Passeig de Gracia, 32, 4th floor. M.: Catalunya or Passeig de Gracia. Phone. : 93-488-01-62 or 93-488-17-89. Count from 6 to 200 pesetas (about 7 F) for a double room, without breakfast. A charming pension in a somewhat dated building (note the beautiful stairwell, the superb elevator). Very large rooms with sink or bath, furnished in a disparate but pleasant way. A rather nice little retro side. Prefer rooms to the rear, which are less noisy. Make reservations during the holidays.
Where to eat ?
Irati: Cardenal Casanas, 17. Tel: 93-302-30-84. Close to the Ramblas. M.: Liceu. Closed Sunday evening and Monday. A Basque tavern always crowded, frequented by a young clientele. The game consists of ordering the waiters for a cider or txacoli chato, then picking from the huge trays scattered around the counter. All these small slices of bread covered with grilled blood sausage, anchovies, small chicken fritters, cheese, tuna with tomato… are tasty. Once satisfied, you pay the bill by announcing yourself the number of pintxos consumed. Carefully keep the spikes stuck in the pintxos, the calculation will be easier.
To see on the web
In these festive times, to prepare bread for Epiphany and other Spanish traditions that scent dried fruits and olive oil.
To organize your holidays, find out about cultural events in Spain ...