January 6th is a national holiday in Spain (yes, another!) but this time it is perhaps one of the most popular, especially among the younger generations.
It officially draws an end to the festive calendar and sees the Three Kings (or Los Reyes Magos) come from the East bearing gifts to all of the good children (and adults!)
Across the country, towns and cities host their very own ‘cabalgata’ on the evening before, January 5th. This is a procession of the Three Kings through the streets on a series of decorative floats, throwing tens of thousands of sweets out to the children who collect them with the help of upturned umbrellas.
This majestic and very colourful display leaves from the Alcazaba before heading to the city hall. There, Melchior, Gaspar, and Baltasar appear on the balcony and have the letter read to them on behalf of all of the city’s children.
Then the route continues down the Paseo del Parque and the Alameda, before heading past the market, up Calle Carreteria/Alamos to Plaza de la Merced. From there, the route passes down Calle Alcazabilla and Calle Cister to the Cathedral where the offerings to the Baby Jesus are made and a concert is held.
Traditionally, the Magi are ‘played’ by local celebrities, whether members of the press, politicians or artists. As you can probably already tell from the photo, this isn’t always the most PC occasion, with Baltasar, generally speaking, ‘blacked up’.
The 2020 cabalgata gets under way at 5pm, barring adverse weather conditions.
Further information about the route and timings can be found here (in Spanish).