Santa lives in Alicante

Christmas is a very special time in the Alicante region of Spain. Festive lights sparkle in the town centres,

Santa sets up his grotto in the beach city of Alicante while the Three Kings bring the festivities to a grand finale arriving by boat, on horseback or astride camels.

The cosmopolitan make-up of most Alicante towns, particularly the beach resorts, means Christmas can stretch for a whole month.  

It starts on St Nicholas day on December 6, continues through Christmas Day and ends with the arrival of the Epiphany on January 6.

Santa lives in Alicante

Christmas trees in Alicante

 

The Dutch, Germans, Polish and Ukrainians celebrate the feast day of St Nicholas on December 6.

The saintly figure dressed in red and sporting a splendid white beard brings gifts for children who have been good and a lump of coal for the naughty ones.

Santa Claus derives from St Nicholas or Sinterklaas as he is known in Holland.

While Santa lives in the North Pole with his reindeer and busy elves, Sinterklaas spends most of his time in Spain.

After visiting the children on his feast day, Sinterklaas rushes to Alicante where he boards a special boat bound for Holland.

He brings them gifts of oranges, which led to speculation that he preferred the sunnier weather in Alicante to the frozen north.

St Nicholas is Alicante’s patron saint so his feast day is the perfect excuse to kick-start Christmas with a parade of Moors and Christians plus a special appearance of the special bearded one himself.

See Santa and ride on a magic train in Alicante

Alicante does Santa proud at Christmas with a special grotto, fabulous Christmas trees, fairy lights, festive markets, a museum dedicated to Christmas cribs and a lovely crib in the main square or plaza.

A magical place to take the children is to Santa Claus’s house where you can see the elves in their workshops making special Christmas toys.

During your visit, you can visit Santa to tell him you have been good. You can leave your Christmas wish list at his special post office.

You can see the elves at work and play, marvel at their tricks and potions before jumping on board the magic train. You can also buy gifts and sweets or visit Mama Claus’s restaurant for a burger, snack or cookie.

Santa Claus’s house is in the new Plaza Seneca (which is where the old bus station stood).

Entry to the house and to see Santa with his elves is free. To ride on the attractions costs €2.50 and to have your photo taken with Santa is €3. It is open until January 6.

Christmas spirit in Alicante beach city

A few minutes’ walk from here is Avenida Federico Soto, where a Christmas arts and crafts market is being held.

Christmas crib in the Belen museum, Alicante

Across this main road is the Plana de la Montañeta where a beautiful Christmas crib (called a Belen in Spanish) has been set up.

These beautiful figurines depicting Nativity scenes such as the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Kings bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are a wonderful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

In many Christmas cribs in Spain, you may spot an unusual figure – sometimes even a politician – squatting down with his trousers around his ankle. Known as el caganer, the squatting figure is commonplace in Catalan cities but his popularity has spread to neighbouring provinces.

El caganer is thought to be fertilising the earth to bring good luck for the following year. By using figures depicting politicians or famous people, it is also seen as a way of bringing them down to earth.

Enjoy ice-skating in Alicante city centre

Ice-skating in Alicante for Christmas

Another nativity scene is set up in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento by the town hall. For the festive season, an ice-skating rink is set up in this beautiful old square to add to the festive merriment. Cost is €5 for 45 minutes and the rink is open every day until January 7 from 10am to 2pm and 3pm to 10pm.

There is also an ice-skating demonstration by Javier Raya, who competed with Spain in the Sochi Winter Olympics last year, and professional skater Laura Garcia on the rink.

Denia prawns and turron from Jijona

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tend to be spent with family. Often the biggest meal is in the evening of Christmas Eve, either at home or in a restaurant.

Food takes centre stage with delicacies such as the Denia red prawn, suckling pig or roast lamb as well as the turron sweets from Jijona.

Rolls-Royce in the turron museum in Jijona, Alicante

The Denia prawn is favoured for its delicate flavour. Be warned, the price can shoot up at Christmas to as much as €200 a kilo or more. You could prepare a shellfish salad or platter using other varieties of prawns, including frozen ones, with one or two Denia prawns per person at the centre. This will help to keep down the cost.

Giggling girls sit on the massive majestic King in Alicante provinceNew Year involves plenty of noise and fireworks. In many towns, residents will head for the main square in the town, often by the town hall, to count down to New Year. Twelve grapes are eaten during the 12 chimes leading up to midnight. Cava is handy to wash down the grapes, although you can buy a tin of 12 seeded and skinless grapes in the supermarkets.

All of this, of course, is the build-up to the main event – for children any way – the arrival of The Three Kings.

On the evening of January 5, the Three Kings will arrive – by boat, float or on horseback. Children line the streets to wait for the Kings to throw sweets for them.

Many children will also excitedly wait in earnest for a present from the Three Kings themselves!

The parades are spectacular, often featuring camels and elephants too.  It’s truly magical to see the three wise men dressed in all their splendour leading the parade.

In Alicante city, the fun starts in the port at 5pm before the Kings head to the Plaza de Toros for 6pm. After the reception, the parade starts from the Plaza de Toros at 7pm and ends at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento by the town hall.

In many beach resorts, the Kings tend to arrive by boat before a colourful parade is held along the main streets.

 

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