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Christmas & New Years in Nerja 2023
Although Nerja is predominately a seaside summer town the Christmas period is still a great time to visit, especially when you know what to expect. The traditional Christmas lights always look attractive, especially in the older and more picturesque areas and with Malaga only forty minutes away you always have the option to see a display on a far grander scale.
Take a look at the pictures from previous celebrations and see what you missed.
The timetable of events for the Christmas period in Nerja is usually released only a few weeks prior to the festivities actually beginning but to get an idea of what you can expect take a look at last years program below as well as the extra information on Christmas traditions in Spain.
Christmas Events 2019
- 21st December / 8:30pm - Christmas Concert
The municipal band will give its traditional Christmas concert in the Cultural Centre in Calle Granada.
- 23rd December / 5pm – Father Christmas parade
Leaves from the Verano azul park and continues along Calle Jaén, Diputación, Granada, Plaza Ermita, San Miguel, Plaza Catarero, Pintada, Puerta del Mar and finishes on the Balcón de Europa.
- 31st December / from 11pm – New Years on the Balcon de Europa
- 2nd January / 11am – Navipark playground opens (Plaza de España)
Plaza de España will be transformed for the day into a play-park including ice rink and bouncy castles with fun for the whole family.
- 3rd January / 4:30pm – Cartero Real
The official postmen of the Three kings arrive in Nerja to accept letters from the local children for Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior. Los Carteros Reales will be found in the Plaza de España along with their paiges from 4:30pm.
- 5th January / 4:30pm – Three Kings Procession
The route is as follows Parque Verano Azul, Calle Jaén, Calle Diputación, Calle Granada, Calle San Miguel, Plaza Cantarero, Calle Pintada and finally the Balcón de Europa.
Christmas dinner 2023
Each year a number of the town’s hotels hold a dinner on Christmas day for guests but also anybody who would like to attend. They generally include at least three courses, an open bar and entertainment with live music and dancing.
For 2019 the Hotel Rural Almazara on the Frigiliana road is holding its Christmas dinner from 7:30pm on the 25th. This includes a four course meal, wine, beer and Champagne, live music from the Miss Fortune and a free taxi service so you needn’t worry about driving home at the end of the night. If you’d like to enjoy a memorable Christmas evening at the hotel tickets cost €52 with a special price for children. For more information or to reserve your ticket call the hotel on (0034) 952 534 200.
If you’d prefer to enjoy your Christmas right in the centre of Nerja you could always choose the Hotel Balcon de Europa which also has a dinner on the evening of the 25th starting at 7.30pm. They offer a five course meal, wine, beer and Champagne included. Children get a 50% discount on the €85 ticket price and there’ll be live music to boogie the night away here too. If you’d like more information on the evening’s menu or to make your reservation you can get contact details from our Hotel Balcon de Europa page.
Christmas in Spain
As in most countries Christmas is very much a time for family in Spain and in Nerja. For Spanish people Christmas Eve, known in Spanish as 'La Nochebuena' or 'Vispera De Navidad', is more of an event than Christmas Day with tradition being for family and friends to come together for a large family feast, generally eaten quite late in the evening. Indeed, some of the more religious families may well eat after midnight mass. The menu can vary with lots of different traditional dishes but you can be sure that Turron, polvorones or mantecados will make an appearance somewhere. After the meal it's common for families to go out to the local bars and meet up with extended family and neighbours.
With Christmas Eve being of greater significance, Christmas day is a little different to what you may expect. The day is a public holiday but restaurants, cafés and bars will be open and often with Christmas menus to cater for functions and tourists.
Each year there is a nativity scene available for public viewing in the municipal hall in Calle del Almirante Ferrándiz although you'll frequently find similar such displays put together by families, neighbours and clubs all open for public viewing. Besides this you should also be sure to get to the celebrations for New Years Eve and the procession for the Three Kings which you can read more about below.
New Years – Nochevieja
If you're in Nerja on New Years Eve there's only one place to be, the Balcón de Europa, with a glass (plastic is best) of Cava in one hand and a little bag of grapes in the other. The Balcón is the centre of the celebrations in Nerja with a temporary stage erected and live music from 11pm. Its customary in Spain to eat a grape at each strike of the clock at midnight. If you can eat all twelve grapes in time you're supposed to have good luck in the new year. This little tradition comes from Alicante where in 1909 local farmers found themselves with an extremely large grape surplus and scrambled to come up with a way to sell them. There marketing must have been good because after more than one hundred years the tradition is still alive and kicking. Of course, if you want to be sure of good luck in the new year it's advisable to wear red underwear on the big night too. It's considered good luck in Spain and Italy and you'll have no trouble finding it in the build up to the event. If you're not too fussed about the luck and traditions you can always just turn up and watch the firework display which is set off at the very end of the Balcón de Europa which looks beautiful with the backdrop of the lights, trees and Andalucian architecture.
Three Kings - Los Reyes Magos
Coinciding with the feast of epiphany when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem this is the most important event for the children of Nerja as this is the day that they'll finally get their presents. In Spain the tradition of Los Reyes Magos is more popular than Santa Claus and is celebrated with a parade through the streets. In Nerja this parade begins each year at the Verano Azul park and finishes on the Balcón de Europa. As the floats with the Three Kings pass, sweets are thrown to the kids (and adults) in the crowd with the inevitable competition of who can collect the most! The parade sets out on the 5th January normally at 5pm. (See below for last years route)
As well as the parade and presents Los Reyes Magos also bring with them another tradition, the eating of the Roscon. This is a large, round cake with a hole in the middle filled with cream. There is usually something hidden inside, a toy, figure of one of the kings or a figure of Jesus. This is yet another chance to bag yourself some good luck for the coming year!
The procession is a really nice tradition to go and see if you're in Nerja at the time and lasts for a few hours so pick yourself a spot on the parades route and see how many sweets you can collect! Here's last years route :
Parque Verano Azul, Calle Jaén, Calle Diputación, Calle Granada, Calle San Miguel, Plaza Cantarero, Calle Pintada and finally the Balcón de Europa