7 Things You Simply Cannot Miss In Malaga this Christmas 2021
If you think of Malaga as mainly a sun and beach destination you might be surprised to discover what the city has to offer at Christmas. For almost six weeks from late November to early January, Malaga celebrates the festive season with a whole range of activities for all ages.
From lights and music to food and drink, Malaga at Christmas offers a great destination for a short break. And in the sunshine!
Read on to discover our top picks for the best things to do and see in the city over the Christmas holidays.
1. Christmas Lights in Málaga
Many cities do Christmas lights well, but Malaga takes them to another level.
Between the end of November and 6 January, the city sparkles with literally hundreds of thousands of christmas lights in Malaga.
The main squares of the city (Plaza de la Marina, Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza del Obispo) get a large Christmas tree as well as Plaza de Enrique García Herrera (behind the Central Market). This year, the enormous ficus trees of the Alameda Principal are adorned with hanging leafy strings of lights that twinkle in the sunlight of the day and light up as night falls. Paseo del Parque is lined with lights as are all of the side streets of the historical centre. Check out the dozens of beautiful chandeliers in Calle San Juan! As well, most streets in residential neighbourhoods around the city all have nice displays of Christmas lights in Malaga.
Be sure not to miss the 3-D video mapping on the south tower of the cathedral of Malaga. It’s simply amazing!
But the biggest and brightest are on Calle Larios, the centre stage in Malaga at Christmas with a spectacular display running the entire length of the street.
Each year has a different theme – in 2021, the inspiration for the Christmas lights in Malaga comes from a festive forest complete with giant trees, flowers, angels and autumn leaves.
The display includes a light and sound show when the lights flash and twinkle in time to four pieces of music. The show takes place every evening between 6.30 pm and 10 pm. Unlike past years, the times are unannounced in order to avoid crowds. Still, the centre will be packed with people no matter what, so always wear a face mask to protect yourself against COVID.
Our top tip: The light and sound shows on Calle Larios attract the crowds in droves on the weekends so try to plan your visit during the week.
Did you know? The Christmas Lights in Malaga are ranked as some of the best in Europe. You can see the Christmas lights from 29 November and 6 January between 6.30 pm and midnight.
2. Christmas lights at the Botanical Gardens
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre just a few kilometres north of the city! Something new for Christmas 2021 is the Christmas lights in Malaga’s botanical gardens. A 2.2 km trail through one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Europe is a magical way to spend an evening with family or friends. Open every day except Monday, the fairy-tale light show is from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. We recommend you book in advance on-line.
3. The Nativity Scenes
One of the best-loved Spanish traditions at Christmas are the nativity scenes, known as belenes.
These beautifully crafted scenes show the Bible story of Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding it in minute detail via tiny figurines and models, many of which move.
The belenes are real works of art, involving hours of painstaking handiwork. Dozens are set up in Malaga, and it’s well worth visiting one or two during your visit.
Best places to see them: The Cathedral has an impressive nativity scene (entry is via the door on Plaza del Obispo).
The Diputación on the western seafront hosts one of the largest complete with a light and sound show.
For details on how to get there, ask our staff to pinpoint the location on a map when you pick up your cycle hire in Malaga.
Did you know?
There is an official nativity scene route with a map showing the location of all the main ones in the city – ask for a copy at the tourist office.
4. The Sunshine
With over 300 days of guaranteed sunshine a year, Christmas in Malaga is always going to include quite a lot of them.
Daytime temperatures can reach the low 20s, making them perfect for enjoying lunch on the seafront promenade or even on the beach.
Best places to enjoy it: Ask us for recommendations on the best places to eat in Malaga. If you fancy cycling to somewhere a little off the beaten track, check out these top four restaurants.
Did you know? Fried fish (known as pescaíto frito) and grilled sardines (espetos) are typical food in Malaga all year round. Why not enjoy a dish or two at Christmas?
5. The typical Christmas sweetmeats
OK, fried fish isn’t average Malaga Christmas fare so what is? The Malagueños have a very sweet tooth at Christmas when tables are laden with pastries and sweetmeats. Favourites include:
Turrón – similar to nougat and made with almonds and sugar.
Mantecados – pastries made with lard and sugar in various flavours.
Mazapanes – marzipan figures made from almonds and eggs.
Roscos de vino – pastries in a doughnut shape with aniseed and wine flavouring.
Best places to buy them: Casa Mira on Calle Larios makes some of the best traditional turron in Malaga while Lepanto almost next door creates turrones in different flavours. For pastries try La Mallorquina on Plaza Felix Saenz or Atarazanas market.
Did you know? You can also buy turron ice cream. Discover where to try the best ice cream in Malaga , the perfect dessert for Christmas in the sunshine!
6. The Christmas markets
No Christmas would be complete without a market or two, and Malaga comes up trumps here too. The city is Europe’s top spot for Christmas markets according to European Best Destinations.
Different markets take place around the city in the run-up to Christmas, and unlike other European cities, those in Malaga stay open after Christmas itself and don’t close until late on 5 January.
Best places to see them: The largest market in Malaga at Christmas takes place on the Paseo del Parque.
Dozens of stalls sell traditional Christmas gifts and decorations, handicrafts, clothes and accessories. Muelle Uno has a big Christmas market too with mainly arts and craft items.
Did you know? It’s easy to cycle to the Christmas markets in Malaga, and you can rent a panier for all your purchases. Be sure to order one when you book your rental bike.
7. Three Kings Parade
The festive season in Spain doesn’t end until Epiphany on 6 January, known as the Three Kings or Día de Los Reyes.
This is the day when families and friends traditionally give their presents and children receive theirs delivered by the Three Kings on camels the night before.
In anticipation of this, Malaga celebrates the Three Kings Parade that takes place from 5 pm on 5 January.
The parade, consisting of lots of floats (including three with each King on them), makes its way through the city centre accompanied by street artists, dancers and marching bands.
Those on the floats throw thousands of sweets into the crowds as they go past, so make sure you take a bag to put them in (and mind the flying sweets!).
Best places to see it: This is one of the most popular events of the year, particularly with local families so getting a good spot to watch it can be difficult. The Paseo del Parque is usually a little quieter than the city centre, and there’s more room to spread out.
MALAGA BIKE TOURS & RENTALS HOLIDAY CLOSURE:
For the first time in our 13 years of business, we will close for the holidays. After being separated from our friends and families back in our respective home countries due to the COVID pandemic, we are all looking forward to some much-needed quality time with our near and dear ones.
We will be closed from December 24th 2021 – January 2nd 2022 inclusive.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
We wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.
Looking forward to seeing you in 2022!